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New Support for the Cosmological Argument

Redshift
 
One of the most interesting and widely discussed arguments for the existence of God is the kalam cosmological argument, which attempts to prove that it is impossible for the universe to have an infinite past. If the argument proves the universe had a beginning, then it follows that some cause that transcends the universe must have brought it into existence. The defender of the kalam argument may also advance other arguments attempting to show that the cause of the universe is God.

Although the argument fell into relatively obscurity after it was promoted in the Middle Ages, it received new life through William Lane Craig’s 1979 book The Kalam Cosmological Argument. Craig has become the argument’s leading proponent, and thanks to his famous debates with atheists that end up on YouTube, the kalam argument has become well-known and is vigorously dissected by critics.

Understanding the Argument

 
One reason I think that the kalam is so hotly debated is that it is deceptively simple. This is the entire argument:

Premise 1 (P1): Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
Premise 2 (P2): The universe began to exist.
Conclusion(C): Therefore, the universe has a cause.

You can find hundreds of websites or videos dedicated to the kalam argument, but hardly any that describe, much less refute, other arguments for God such as those from St. Thomas Aquinas (even fewer can be found that actually understand what Aquinas is arguing). Part of this may be due to critics' impatience toward the need to tease a syllogism out of the Summa Theologica. He may instead opt for the nice and neat kalam argument, which seems an easy target for a few swings.

I can’t comprehensively defend the kalam argument in a blog post, but I’d like to put forward a new piece of evidence for the kalam argument I have not seen argued in previous literature—specifically, a piece of evidence for the first premise (P1).

Craig provides two main reasons to think that “whatever begins to exist has a cause.” The first is intuition, or the conclusion we come to upon thoughtful reflection about the idea that something can’t come into existence from nothing. The second is induction, or the conclusion we draw from universal observation that things which begin to exist always have causes. Critics counter that our intuitions can be mistaken (such as the intuition that the sun revolves around the earth) and therefore we have no reason to think something can't come from nothing. Furthermore, some aspects of quantum physics may undermine the inductive data we have for P1. While I don’t think these objections are sound, I think there is another reason we should accept P1. The reason is that the intuitions behind P1 are also behind the “evidence” atheists admit would change their minds about God’s existence.

New Support for the Kalam Argument

 
When atheists say theists have failed to show God exists, they must have a standard of what would show God exists in order to know that theists haven’t succeeded in that task. Almost all of these standards share the same evidential pattern: the requirement that something come from nothing without a natural cause. Here are some examples:

  • An amputated limb is healed with prayer.
  • A message announcing that God exists appears in the sky in every known language.
  • A towering giant says he is God and through an act of will rearranges the solar system.

Each of these have been proposed in the Strange Notions comment boxes. Of course, if it turned out that the limb appeared as a result of a random quantum fluctuation of particles, or that the planets were moved by massive spaceships using gravity devices, then these would not count as proofs for God, because these events would be natural, not supernatural. Rather, it seems that an event can only be considered an act of God (and not an act of technologically advanced aliens) if it involves something coming from nothing without a natural cause.

We wouldn’t think to worship a scientist who said, “I shall bring 5,000 loaves of bread into existence merely by thinking,” and then “thinks” to build a machine that reassembles the molecules in the surrounding environment in order to form the bread. However, we might worship a rabbi who said, “I shall bring 5,000 loaves of bread into existence by thinking,” and then thinks and so makes bread appear (along with some fish for protein so that everyone has a balanced diet).

The requirement that evidence for God involve something coming from nothing without a natural cause also applies to “knowledge” coming from nothing without a cause. Many atheists say that if the Bible predicted man would walk on the moon in the twentieth century, then they would believe God exists. Well, if it turned out that time-travelers went back and manipulated the manuscripts, that would nullify this alleged evidence for God. However, if the authors of the Bible said they knew it because “God revealed it to them,” then a divine explanation may not be far off.

The Bottom Line

 
Why should atheists believe P1 of the kalam argument, or why should they believe that “whatever begins to exist has a cause for its existence?” They should believe P1 because they already believe that something cannot come from nothing without a supernatural cause. They already believe that limbs appearing out of thin air, accurate prophecies that just appear in the mind of a prophet, and demonstrations of power of nature that only involve the will can be the result only of God (at least if they are open to the idea that evidence can show God exists).

This shows that when our intuition suggests something can’t come from nothing without a natural cause, it's reliable because atheists use this intuition in order to devise evidence that would convince them God exists. If an arm or an accurate prophecy, coming into existence from nothing without a natural cause, is proof of God, then why isn’t an entire universe coming into nothing without a natural cause proof of God?

Granted, proving that the universe began to exist from nothing without a natural cause is a much larger task (though if the universe came to be from nothing, then by definition there could be no natural cause because then it would have come from a natural thing that exists, notnothing).

My only goal in this post is to show that if P2 could be established and since atheists already implicitly accept P1, then they should accept the conclusion of the argument and seek out the transcendent cause of the universe.
 
 
(This post was inspired by one of my previous articles at Strange Notions. To learn more about the arguments for and against the existence of God, stay tuned for my new book Answering Atheism: How to Make the Case for the God with Logic and Charity to be published by Catholic Answers Press this fall.)
 
 
Originally appeared at Catholic Answers. Used with author's permission.
(Image Credit: Redshift)

Trent Horn

Written by

Trent Horn holds a Master’s degree in Theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville and is currently an apologist and speaker for Catholic Answers. He specializes in training pro-lifers to intelligently and compassionately engage pro-choice advocates in genuine dialogue. He recently released his first book, titled Answering Atheism: How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity. Follow Trent at his blog, TrentHorn.com.

Note: Our goal is to cultivate serious and respectful dialogue. While it's OK to disagree—even encouraged!—any snarky, offensive, or off-topic comments will be deleted. Before commenting please read the Commenting Rules and Tips. If you're having trouble commenting, read the Commenting Instructions.

  • Rationalist1

    In science one rarely starts off with a full blown experimental evidence for a proposition, it's more a hint or an indication that comes first. Indeed on scientist (I forget whom) commented that the most interesting phrase in science is not "I found it" (Eureka) but "That's strange".

    In that sense, don't give me a full proof of God, start by giving me a hint. A hint might be prayer being answered at a rate different from random chance, a uniformity of religious beliefs across vultures and time, or truly inexplicable events occurring here and now. Once we get that, we can start to talk.

    As for intuition and causality. Science employs scientific method partly because our intuitions are so often wrong. Don't trust intuition, always verify it.

    And as for causality the basis of quantum mechanics and the basis of how the semiconductor chips that are in the computer you are typing on now is based upon random chance. No one, not even Einstein who tried for decades to disprove it, has come up with a theory or evidence that puts a cause behind the random quantum mechanical events. You can choose not to accept this and instead take it on faith that everything has a cause based upon the metaphysics of a 14th century philosopher. But if you do, please reply on an illuminated veluum manuscript, not on a computer. :->

    • epeeist

      Indeed on scientist (I forget whom) commented that the most interesting
      phrase in science is not "I found it" (Eureka) but "That's strange".

      Isaac Asimov.

      As for intuition and causality. Science employs scientific method
      partly because our intuitions are so often wrong. Don't trust
      intuition, always verify it.

      Intuition may give us a hypothesis, only testing turns it into a theory.

      • Rationalist1

        Thank you. I should have known that. I was a big Isaac Asimov fan in my youth.

        • clod

          Also....I reckon vultures believe the same shit, cross culturally speaking ;-)

    • thursday

      Forgive me, I am not a scientist so help me out here. I am trying to understand your point about the basis of quantum mechanics and the semiconductor chips being random chance. You also said that there is no evidence of cause being behind random mechanical events. Okay so here is my question while the events in these systems may be random those random events take place within a "created" system. In other words where does the system come from doesn't it still imply a cause?

      • Rationalist1

        Semiconductor chips in the computer you are using are based upon quantum mechanics (classical physics would not allow their behaviour) and the basis of quantum mechanics is random occurrences. My comment was against the proposition P1 that all events have a cause. I offered up quantum mechanics as describing events that do not have a cause, hence proposition P1 is faulty. I'm not discussing the entire system, only the intuitive notion that all events have causes.

        • thursday

          It seems to me that the first premise is not that all events have a cause but that all things in existence have a cause. The "thing" in existence in your example is a system, not the events that take place within it. What am I missing?

          • Michael Murray

            The decay of a single particle doesn't have a cause.

            You can run your argument another way by noting that all it can really say is that all events in the universe have a cause. The universe is not in the hniverse so now you are stuck.

          • VelikaBuna

            How can it not have a cause? You can say the cause is unknown, but to say there is not one is just illogical.

          • Rationalist1

            In the case of quantum mechanics, it's not just that the cause in unknown, ,many things in science have unknown causes, it's that the frequency of occurrence is totally random, precluding a cause.

          • VelikaBuna

            Oh my...and you believe this? Who told you this?

          • Michael Murray

            Do you know any physics?

          • VelikaBuna

            Appeal to authority where none is needed. All things must have cause.

          • epeeist

            Appeal to authority where none is needed. All things must have cause.

            Unwarranted assertion where justification is needed.

          • VelikaBuna

            There is not one thing that can logically change without a cause, whether the cause is known or unknown.

          • epeeist

            There is not one thing that can logically change without a cause, whether the cause is known or unknown.

            So when I remark on your unwarranted assertion then your response is...

            Another unwarranted assertion.

          • VelikaBuna

            I say prove it.

          • epeeist

            I say prove it.

            But he who avers must prove. And given that you said:

            All things must have cause.

            then the burden of proof is yours.

          • VelikaBuna

            No you prove that they do not have to have a cause.

          • epeeist

            No you prove that they do not have to have a cause.

            I'll do that when you prove there isn't a pleiosaur in Loch Ness.

          • VelikaBuna

            Prove it.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Why?

          • thursday

            Maybe its the terms "random" and "cause" that are confusing me. When you see the little balls with numbers come up from the lottery machine they are random. They are random numbers, randomly chosen but they were caused by the machine.

          • Rationalist1

            Teachnically the bouncing balls are random, but in theory they are not. If one were to know the initial position and velocity of the balls and the rotation of the drum one could predict the outcome. In practice they are random however. In quantum mechanics the occurrence of an event like radioactive decay and the production of a gamma ray is in practice and theory random and uncaused.

          • VelikaBuna

            Pure nonsense.

          • "Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it." — Niels Bohr

            It may strike you as "pure nonsense," but it has held up under the most intense scrutiny one can imagine.

          • thursday

            Still not getting it. So the gamma ray comes from the decay. It is a byproduct of the decay. How is this an example of an thing that has no cause. Because it occurs randomly does not mean that it comes from nothing or that it has no cause.

          • Rationalist1

            The creation of the gamma ray occurred because of radioactive decay that has no cause. What caused the radioactive decay. to the best of scientific knowledge, nothing did. The creation of the gamma ray was an caused event. Maybe the creation of the universe was an uncaused event as well.

          • Anthony

            In wikipedia they give an example of radioactive decay being similar to an avalanche, and the article cites radioactive decay may occur due to a quantum vacuum fluctuation. Now thats just a theory as to why radioactive decay may happen, but to say nothing caused something (i.e radioactive decay) to happen is akin to saying God did it.

          • Rationalist1

            Taking two identical atoms, one could decay 5 seconds later, on 5 years later. There is no cause, only a statistical probability it would occur in any time interval. Many scientists fought this notion as counter-intuitive saying there must be a factor that caused the decay but none has ever been found or no departure from randomness was every found.

          • epeeist

            Maybe its the terms "random" and "cause" that are confusing me. When you
            see the little balls with numbers come up from the lottery machine they
            are random.

            Let's take a slightly different example. When light is reflected off a road it is mostly horizontally polarised. This is why polarising sunglasses reduce glare.

            If you take a polariser and align it with the reflection off the road it will allow this light through. Turn it through 90 degrees and it will block it.

            Turn it 45 degrees to the polarised light and half the photons will get through and half will not. What, if anything, causes the difference?

          • thursday

            Maybe it isn't the terms cause and random that are unclear maybe it is the difference between a "thing" and an "event". The dog in your attempt to explain gamma rays and radioactive decay did not pop into existence, it had to be created by a process that was already set in motion by other existing things.

          • Rationalist1

            But the gamma ray did not exist before the radioactive decay and there was apparently no cause for the radioactive decay, it occurred randomly. Perhaps like the creation of the universe.

          • epeeist

            The dog in your attempt to explain gamma rays and radioactive decay did not pop into existence, it had to be created by a process that was already set in motion by other existing things.

            And I described the difference between my macro-size analogy and its quantum sized analogy.

            The problem is that you are trying to apply common sense, which sort of works at the human level, i.e. objects at our size and mass travelling at around about the speeds we move to situations at a completely different scale.

            You might want to apply common sense to quantum teleportation or particles being in two places at the same time.

            Physics at this scale is counter-intuitive, I did tell you that. It is also counter-intuitive at high speeds, as the twins paradox illustrates.

          • stevegbrown

            "frequency of occurrence is totally random, precluding a cause"

            Hello there, what you're describing is the Heisenburg Uncertainty principle, which doesn't deny a cause but states that we can't predict the path of a particle with absolute certainty. For example, when projecting photons through a 50% silvered pane of glass, you cannot predict which photon is going THROUGH the glass and which one will bounce off the glass.
            In the case of radioactive decay which occurs in order that an isotope will stabilize, sub-particles plus energy are thrown off.
            This doesn't mean that there is not a cause, it means we can't predict precisely when.
            I think it means that also notions of causality need to be fully explored. I've seen much criticism of AT notions of causality. St Thomas' notions of cause are much richer than the classic newtonian effciant cause notions of billiard balls bouncing. Thanks for posting.

          • epeeist

            You can say the cause is unknown, but to say there is not one is just illogical.

            Would that be deductive, formal logic or quantum logic?

          • VelikaBuna

            Don't play that game. Grow up.

          • thursday

            What?

          • Isaac Clarke

            All events in the universe have a cause.
            The universe is not an event in the universe.
            So you can't claim the universe itself has a cause.

            Or try.

            Everything within my suitcase belongs to my wife.
            The suitcase is not the things inside.
            So you can't claim that the suitcase itself belongs to my wife.

            Probably lots of faults with that, but it's simple enough, I think, to be useful.

          • thursday

            Okay got it, but I thought this discussion was about where the universe came from not how things work in the universe. Isn't this a proper distinction? Events within the system may occur with predictability or may occur seemingly randomly. The universe is a thing not an event. Its seems the argument doesn't work.

          • Isaac Clarke

            Now there I'll have to point you back to the posters who understand it far better than I. I was only trying to help on one small point, it's very rare that I can even help that much. I've no training in either physics or philosophy. One thing I've learned is that physics is often counter intuitive, so often common sense is of no real use.

          • Most complex systems that we don't fully understand appears random. I don't think it can be proven to be such.

          • Michael Murray

            Not really. The brain is a complex system we don't understand and it doesn't appear random.

            Neither is quantum mechanics random. But the fact is that a lot of very smart physicists have thought very hard about it and the best they can conclude that about it is that what I said is true. Individual particles decay for no apparent cause.

          • [---
            Not really. The brain is a complex system we don't understand and it doesn't appear random.
            ---]
            I was not thinking the brain, but even so, the thoughts which find their genesis in our brains are not known to be deterministic.

            [---
            Individual particles decay for no apparent cause.
            ---]
            No "apparent" cause. I agree, we can't observe the cause. When good measurements of all possible interactions at the atomic and sub atomic level are accessible to scientists, then I could believe in not just no apparent cause, but no cause.

          • Michael Murray

            You should read up on the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Those kinds of measurements are not even in principle available to scientists.

            A lot of very smart people (not me) have thought about this. I really suggest reading a bit on it.

          • Thanks, I have before. Not being able to measure interactions impartially, is no help to the claim of "no cause".

          • Rationalist1

            A gamma ray given off by radioactive decay is created randomly. It exists but it has no cause.

          • thursday

            Again I'm not a scientist so please explain why the radioactive decay is not the cause of the gamma ray. Just because gamma rays I assume given your use of it as an example are not always given off from radioactive decay doesn't mean it is not caused by the decay. Or maybe we just do not know the exact cause. Is a gamma ray a thing or is it a reaction like a sneeze or something like a reflection in a mirror or the play of light when sun hits a crystal. It seems to me that while gamma rays may be random they come from something already in existence.

          • epeeist

            Again I'm not a scientist so please explain why the radioactive decay is not the cause of the gamma ray. Just because gamma rays I assume given your use of it as an example are not always given off from radioactive
            decay doesn't mean it is not caused by the decay.

            This gets counter-intuitive quite quickly, but feel free to ask for clarification.

            Let's start with a classical example. You have a dog which normally lives in your garden, but it could equally well be at home in your neighbour's garden. It is just that there is a 10 foot wall between the two gardens so there is no way that he can get from one garden to the other.

            Now, you have an atom which there are two possible configurations, one with the gamma inside the nucleus (in) and one with it outside (out). There is a barrier which, by analogy, should prevent movement from in to out.

            However, we don't an exact analogy. The position of the gamma ray is not a fixed point, it is to a certain extent smeared out. It may, with high probability, be inside the nucleus but there is also a probability that it is outside of the nucleus on the other side of the barrier.

            Hence the decay of the atom is probabilistic, the rate of decay being dependent on the height of the barrier between the two configurations.

    • Michael McTaggart-Cook

      "No one, not even Einstein who tried for decades to disprove it, has come up with a theory or evidence that puts a cause behind the random quantum mechanical events. You can choose not to accept this and instead take it on faith that everything has a cause based upon the metaphysics of a 14th century philosopher."
      With regards to quantum mechanics and causality, I'd like to point out that I think you may have missed the point the author was attempting to make. Yes, it is true that thus far there is no evidence for any cause or set of causes of quantum mechanical events, and I don't think that this has any bearing on what the author was pointing out. He was making the point that, often times, a major criterion atheists have for demonstrating God's existence is showing a true case of something coming from nothing. This, the atheist is likely to say, would be truly supernatural, and would demonstrate a divine being with supernatural powers. So, if we ultimately show that the universe does not have some prior cause, or an infinite regress of prior causes, then we have shown the universe to be something that has come from nothing. If the universe has come from nothing, it does not have a natural origin. If the universe does not have a natural origin, then it necessarily has a supernatural origin. This would satisfy the atheist's request for the demonstration of a true case of something coming from nothing, and thus indicating a supernatural force.

      So, yes you're right - there is no yet known cause of quantum mechanical events. Perhaps (though I have no clue, I have little training in physics) we may some day find one, but if not, and it really turns out that the universe simply popped into existence, then that will not disprove the existence of God. It will actually demonstrate a non-natural (and to my mind, thus supernatural) force.
      This is hardly 14th century philosophy.

  • primenumbers

    Unfortunately for Horn, what he requires is not a limb re-growing, but a universe coming into existence from nothing. The universe is not a limb re-growing or sky writing.

    Other arguments from intuition include a boat made from iron will sink, a heavier-than-air vehicle will never fly, etc. Our intuition is often wrong, and it certainly doesn't cross the analogy barrier with any degree of reliability, and we know of nothing inside our universe that's even roughly analogous to the universe itself.

    • epeeist

      Unfortunately for Horn, what he requires is not a limb re-growing, but a
      universe coming into existence from nothing. The universe is not a limb
      re-growing or sky writing.

      Yup, when you make an argument from analogy it really does help if there are more similarities than differences between the things that are being compared.

  • I think the problem is this. The Kalam argument is valid and may be sound, but doesn't argue for God.

    Premise 1 (P1): Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
    Premise 2 (P2): The universe began to exist.
    Conclusion(C): Therefore, the universe has a cause.

    The universe probably did have a cause. Is the cause gravity (Stephen Hawking)? Is it a pre-universe with a reversed time-arrow (Sean Carroll)? Is it nothing (Lawrence Krauss)? Is it some quantum tunnelling event (Alexander Vilenkin)? Is it the universe itself (Spinoza)?

    • Rationalist1

      Those are all valid possibilities. And even if it is a God, that God is so far removed from the theistic God that answers prayers, judges thoughts and actions and tells us who we can sleep with that it much closer to atheism than theism.

      • An interesting physicist's perspective on this sort of God:

        http://closertotruth.com/video-profile/Arguments-for-Agnosticism-Leonard-Susskind-/1495

      • Isaac Clarke

        R1, you got there 1 min before me!

        BTW don't forget the assertion even most catholics don't believe. That their God can be summoned at will by clerics for literal consumption by the faithful.

        • VelikaBuna

          Most Catholics have been atheisteised, so they mix atheist paganism with Catholicism, thinking they would be acceptable to the ruling priesthood of atheism. Catholcics are shamed into silence by all these proudfull claims void of any substance or truth.

          • "Atheisteised" is my new favorite word.

          • BenS

            Mine's 'Catholcics'.

          • VelikaBuna

            I know, it is illegal to invent new words.

          • clod

            kindling: a young person that has never read a word on paper from a real book, with pages that actually turn, and a cover, and can keep the sun out your eyes while sitting in a deck chair on the beach and other stuff.

          • VelikaBuna

            Reading can be a waste of time and to some atheists it does a permanent damage.

          • Susan

            It's interesting, isn't it Clod, that Velika Buna has so far failed to make an argument for anything, let alone support that argument.

            It seems he is here for the strict purpose of flinging his poo at "atheists".

            It makes for some terribly impolite and embarrassingly unintelligent comments.

          • Sample1

            I'm wondering if the person is actually from the village to which their namesake refers. If so, perhaps atheist is synonymous with Soviet Communist Party Member in his/her psyche.

            I've considered visiting Montenegro for a couple of years, but Croatia looks just as intriguing. Funny how the internets provide stumbling upon material to investigate.

            Mike

          • Susan

            Hi Mike,

            That is possible. It doesn't justify the approach but it might explain it a little.

          • Sample1

            It doesn't justify the approach

            True. And the comment about permanent damage with reading only brought to mind this:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4q6eaLn2mY

            Mike

          • Susan

            Thank you Mike.

            I'll never get tired of that. :-)

          • Isaac Clarke

            I find your use of " all these proudfull claims void of any substance or truth" in relation to atheists rather ironic, as I presume you are a theist. But then again I don't claim to know the mind of the creator of the universe, so maybe I'm missing something.

          • VelikaBuna

            You are not missing something, you are missing the whole thing.

      • thursday

        How do you get to this statement, "And even if it is a God, that god is so far removed from the theistic God that answers prayer..." What is the scientific evidence that leads to that statement. That seems to be an intuition based on your own preferences.

        • Watch the video I linked to Rationalist1 above. It gives a physicist's perspective on why. It may help; let me know.

          • thursday

            Will do.

      • epeeist

        Those are all valid possibilities.

        And given Quine's thesis on under-determination the above is only a small subset of what is possible.

    • Isaac Clarke

      You got there 3 mins ahead of me. The Kalam argument proposes some sort of cause, but not some sort of god. Catholics would then have to show evidence that the cause is the God they worship with all it's asserted attributes.

    • VelikaBuna

      Maybe the cause is primordial donkey kong (VelikaBuna)?
      How can you write something like that after all the logical arguments which absolutely prohibit any of the above mentioned so called atheist version of causes? Boggles the mind.

      • I may simply be ignorant of these logical arguments. I'm not a philosopher by training. Please enlighten me. I'm here to learn.

        Of the answers I gave, which one do you want to start with?

        • VelikaBuna

          That would be the waste of time on my part. No argument changes people like you.

          • BenS

            So, engaging him with several posts with no content WASN'T a waste of time... but answering his questions and setting him straight with the correct knowledge IS a waste of time?

            I question your priorities.

          • VelikaBuna

            Your questioning anything is irrelevant to me.

          • Sadly, it is my loss. I'm not sure you can know what sort of person I'm like, but I assure you, I will revise my beliefs on the basis of new evidence and good argument.

            There is a great deal for me to learn from both the atheists and Christians here, including you, if you'd be willing to share your knowledge. Maybe I'll learn something.

          • VelikaBuna

            I know people like you. Not possible to argue with, not because they are right, but simply because they are set in their beliefs.

          • josh

            Is this a stress test for my irony meter?

          • clod

            Then stop wasting your time and leave the site. This is a place that atheists were invited to for dialogue. No atheist will go away because you don't like what is said.

          • VelikaBuna

            Why don't you go away?

          • clod

            It would be uncharitable.

          • robtish

            From this site's commenting guidelines:

            "The rhetorical assault known as ad hominem, Latin for "to the person," is one of the most common fallacies online. Instead of engaging actual arguments, the culprit criticizes, insults, belittles, judges, or mocks the person making the argument. He blasts the opponent's character, intelligence, education, background, motivations, or sometimes all of the above. Attacking persons is fallacious and uncharitable and will not be permitted here. If you are wondering why your comment was flagged or deleted, consider whether it was ad hominem. (Comments that are vulgar, mocking, or insubstantial will be deleted, too.)"

          • Latitude89

            Not sure why there isn't more vocal opposition to VelikaBuna's comments from the mods or other Catholic posters on this site. The negativity is totally uncalled for. The purpose of this site is for discourse.

          • ZenDruid

            Hover your cursor over the upper right of any comment, hit the down symbol, and the 'flag as inappropriate' button appears.

    • Michael Murray

      Or replace P1 with Whatever in the universe begins to exist has a cause then P2 fails. Or observe that many things in the universe have no cause at the quantum level. It's all just a load of such bollocks its hard to know where to start.

    • primenumbers

      P1 is merely an opaque attempt to exempt God from the "laws of causality" the theist relies on in their argument. P1 is setting up two sets - those things that "begin to exist" and those things that "don't begin to exist". (it's a separate argument whether things that "don't begin to exist" exist or not).

      The theist defines their God (separately) as always existing (and therefore exists, but doesn't ever begin to exist) thus P1's two sets are set up by the theist to contain God (and only God) on one hand, and the universe and it's contents on the other. Their desired conclusion is therefore inherent in P1 before the argument even begins. Of course, until God is shown to exist, it cannot have actual properties like "eternal" or "uncaused" or "doesn't begin to exist".

      The "whatever" in P1 is overly broad. Are we talking about things, sets of things, beings, metaphysical things (whatever they may be), immaterial things, arguments, concepts, ideas? "whatever" is so broad as to make the argument from analogy untenable.

      The "exists" in P1 refers to a material existence in space and time. The universe is (not least) space and time, so to say the universe exists inside itself (which is what P2's "exists" would imply) is plainly nonsense.

      • You can also argue that the premises are flawed, or at least quite vague.

        I think everything has an explanation, so the universe does too. That's as far as the Kalam argument goes for me.

        So if the Kalam is too vague or its premises are wrong, then the argument should be discarded. Even if Kalam is sound and valid, it doesn't argue for God. No matter what, it's not an argument for God.

        • primenumbers

          It's a popular beginning of an argument for God though, even if it as presented says nothing about God, they bring in their "extra knowledge" (not really knowledge, but an assumed definition) and wham - they have their proof. But even then they ignore every other possible cause other than their God.

          I don't think that everything can have an explanation in the sense of how theists like to see explanations. They propose their God as an explanation for the universe (but ignore to actually evidence the actual explanation of why their God chose to produce a universe). And although this (along with every other explanation we know of) is external to the thing being explained, just like the the causality escape in the KCA, God gets to have his own internal explanation. Possessing all knowledge, including all knowledge of all explanations, this rather means God knows his own explanation, and as that's a piece of knowledge in itself, he knows that too, and so on and so on, his explanation being an infinite chain of explanations to explain the initial explanation of God. Whereas I see explanations as arbitrary on context. The explanation of why the tree dropped on my head is no because someone planted it there many years ago, but that the neighbour's kid was swinging on it. Explanations have a meaning in a context. To think of an all encompassing explanation is to think of an all encompassing context - yet a context is necessarily a small subject.

          • "But even then they ignore every other possible cause other than their God."

            Prime, you continue to posit this, though without evidence. I've repeatedly shown how Catholics do *not* ignore other possible causes nor assume that the kalam argument proves the fullness of God, as Catholics conceive of him. Yet you continue to propagate this claim.

            If I may ask a question, assuming that the argument is logically valid--and if you don't think it is then let's discuss *that* instead--what transcendent, eternal, immaterial, powerful, intelligent cause of the universe would atheism allow if not God? I would think the atheist would be troubled by *any* transcendent cause of the universe, regardless of whether Catholics identified that cause with God.

          • primenumbers

            We've discussed the lack of validity of the argument before. I mention issues above with how "exists" changes meaning through the argument and then further again if you wish to apply it to God.

          • The "need for God" arises from the understanding that God does not "exist" as a "thing among things" (which is the whole point of positing God's existence as Creator of all "things").
            So part of the problem here is the meaning of the term "things". The "reality" of God is not based on HIs "thing-ness" so to speak. Rather, "thing-ness" itself is based on the reality of God. It is "thing-ness" that requires explanation, since we understand that "thing-ness" itself must have a beginning...
            Put another way, the universe is an "artifact", while God is an "artist."

          • BenS

            Read the man's post again. Especially the penultimate sentence.

          • Yes, that's in agreement with what I've said. The sentence is:

            "Granted, proving that the universe began to exist from nothing without a natural cause is a much larger task (though if the universe came to be from nothing, then by definition there could be no natural cause because then it would have come from a natural thing that exists, not nothing)."
            The universe comes from nothing precisely because God Who created it is not a "natural thing that exists"--He's not a "thing" at all.

          • BenS

            Not the OP, you clown. primenumbers' post. :p

          • How'd you know I was a clown--the rubber nose a giveaway? :-) (now reading prime#'s post--btw, penultimate is a great word and should be used as often as possible)

          • Rationalist1

            Don't forget antepenultimate. From the Flanders and Swan song

            "Then there flashed though her mind what her mother had said
            With her antepenultimate breath:
            "Oh my child, should you look at the wine which is red
            Be prepared for a fate worse than death!"

            http://www.creekcats.com/pnprice/Madeira.html

          • primenumbers

            And whatevers that are not things don't exist.

          • How does one go about proving that *only* material things exist? I think that's backwards. Rather the fact that material things *do* exist seems, in light of the OP proof above, to necessitate the existence of a "cause" for the things that do exist that itself exists *apart* from things caused...

          • primenumbers

            Who said material things? I'm just talking things and whatevers here because you object to God being a thing that can be part of the set everything.

          • So let's clarify--do you accept that the material universe is not all there is? That non-material "whatevers" exist? I thought you just said that "whatevers that are not things don't exist."

          • primenumbers

            We lack evidence for anything supernatural. We don't necessarily assume that there is no supernatural.

            You deny your God is a "thing", but seem to accept that it can be a "whatever". I'm not talking about natural things or supernatural things, just things in general. There are many things a thing can be - they can be abstract concepts that exist because they are physical patterns in the brain, and there are physical things that range from sub-atomic particles all the way up to chairs, people, planets and suns. I'm sure we can allow for sake of argument that things can be super-natural too. A thing is just something that we can talk about in sufficient detail (for this discussion) that we can actually have a discussion about it. One of the things we'd like to discuss is whether certain things exist, or are entirely conceptual. Again, this thing can be a supernatural thing that exists supernaturally for the sake of this discussion. So a thing is just something (anything we can describe enough to discuss) that we can apply "exists" or "not exists" to. So "everything" in this context would mean every thing that we can sufficiently define to discuss it that can be said to exist or not exist either naturally or super naturally.

          • We could keep it simple by distinguishing between "whatever begins to exist" and "whatever exists without beginning." God would necessarily be in the second category only.
            The proof under discussion refers exclusively to the first category and not the second.

          • primenumbers

            Are you able to place anything other than God in your category of things that "whatever exists without beginning."?

            KCA certainly explicitly only refers to "whatever exists with beginning", but implicitly also refers to that statement's negation "whatever exists without beginning.".

          • If we ponder the meaning of "beginning" and "begins", we can see clearly that this refers to having an origin at a certain point in time. Other than God Himself, I cannot conceive of any-"whatever" that does not have an origin in time.

          • primenumbers

            So for you we could just say:

            P0: whatever doesn't begin to exist doesn't have a cause.

            or

            P0: God doesn't begin to exist and doesn't have a cause.

            But I'd then take the obvious corollary of P1c: that whatever doesn't begin to exist doesn't exist. If P1 is intuitively valid as the article claims, I think P1c is also intuitively valid. You somewhat agree by only being able to conceive of your God being in a category of things that except P1c.

            So:

            P1C: whatever doesn't begin to exist doesn't exist,
            P2: God doesn't begin to exist,
            C: God doesn't exist.

          • P1C is incorrect. Why not address the KCA proof in the original post? That proof is the one that helps clarify the reasonability of positing that things that begin to exist have a cause.
            If things that begin to exist have a cause, then that cause cannot be among the things that begin to exist.
            In this view, then these are the obvious conclusions:
            At least *one* "some-whatever" that doesn't begin to exist *must* exist.
            It is this "some-whatever" that has caused the universe to begin to exist....

          • primenumbers

            "P1C is incorrect" - demonstrate that it's incorrect or it stands.

            "Why not address the KCA proof in the original post?" - I am. Because whatever argument you use against P1C, I'll use back against P1. I also happen to think P1C is stronger as it's less open to attack on causality.

          • Prime, your trick only works if you can prove that the corollary premise (P1C) is *necessarily* true if P1 is true. It's not, and I'd challenge you to prove it is.

          • primenumbers

            "whatever doesn't begin to exist doesn't exist" stands on it's own. As noted to Jim, whatever argument you use against it, I'll throw at your P1.

          • Susan

            Prime, your trick only works if you can prove that the corollary premise (P1C) is *necessarily* true if P1 is true. It's not, and I'd challenge you to prove it is.

            Oh good. Prime Numbers wasn't being too subtle. I didn't think so either, but judging from many of the responses here, I was starting to worry.

            So, you understand that the trick only works if he can prove that P1 is true.

            Which takes us back to your P1, "Everything that begins to exist has a cause."

            Can you prove that it's true?

            It is Disqus, so you might have responded to Q. Quine but I can't find a response.

            Can you prove that everything that begins to exist has a cause?

          • Max Driffill

            And even if you could demonstrate this were true, it is not the same thing as demonstrating that an intelligent being is necessary as that cause, or that some simpler always existing thing was not the cause.
            So even if one could demonstrate the need for a first cause, all the work still lies ahead for the believer. And none of this work can be done from the comfort of a study just thinking about it.

          • Michael Murray

            But even before that you have to show that the universe is the same kind of thing as the things in premise 1. It's not because all the things in premise have the property of being in the universe which the universe doesn't. So I will show category error and ask to see your premises. It's a winning hand.

          • Max Driffill

            Better than a full house, or straight flush.

          • Michael Murray

            Maybe there is a market for a logic game for kids like Pokemon. I play "category errormon" 50 points damage.

          • epeeist

            Not quite a game, but a useful program nevertheless

          • epeeist

            But even before that you have to show that the universe is the same kind of thing as the things in premise 1.

            It isn't even in the same library.

          • Michael Murray

            Nice I hadn't seen that version. I thought you were going to say it wasn't in the same class.

          • epeeist

            Prime, your trick only works if you can prove that the corollary premise (P1C) is *necessarily* true if P1 is true.

            But an argument from induction doesn't give you necessarily true either.

          • So let me get one thing straight: You are one who accepts that the universe itself definitely had a *beginning*?

          • primenumbers

            I neither accept nor deny that the universe had a beginning. Can you prove P1C is incorrect?

          • I don't have to prove P1C is incorrect--you don't actually accept that it is correct yourself.
            If it *is* correct, then, since the universe exists, it had to have a beginning. Otherwise it wouldn't exist.
            But you just said you neither accept nor deny that the universe had a beginning.
            Ergo, you don't actually accept your own assertion as true.
            So why should I?

          • primenumbers

            Well If you don't prove P1C incorrect, the valid argument follows inexorably to it's conclusion:

            P1C: whatever doesn't begin to exist doesn't exist,
            P2: God doesn't begin to exist,
            C: God doesn't exist.

            My assertion of P1C is valid. My knowledge of whether the universe had a beginning or not is lacking, and from what I understand from physics, they cannot pierce the barrier of discontinuities in the physics of the earliest moments of the universe to shed any light on the issue.

            But whether I think P1C is valid or not is not the issue. If it's valid, your God by logical conclusion does not exist. That much is obvious. The existence of the universe is not in doubt either way.

            P1C is a skewer - either's valid and God does not exist, or it's invalid and the arguments you use to show it's invalid are very applicable to the demolishment of P1 of KCA to your satisfaction (on the good for the goose is good for the gander principle). So either I win, or you loose the KCA. I know which one I'd take if I were you....

          • You've got it exactly backwards, I think. If P1C is valid, it means *only* a "whatever" with a "beginning" exists. If it's *invalid*, it means that a "whatever" *without* a beginning could exist.
            If it's valid, it excludes a beginningless God while simultaneously *demanding* a universe with a beginning.
            If it's invalid, it permits *both* a beginningless God *and* a beginningless universe...
            A third option is of course that the assertion itself is meaningless. Like saying "Only round squares exist. Now prove that's incorrect!" You can't prove it's incorrect exactly--you can only say it's incorrect.

          • primenumbers

            " If it's *invalid*, it means that a "whatever" *without* a beginning could exist. " - if it's invalid it just means nothing other than it's invalid. To assume the opposite, that must be proven.

            The statement "whatever doesn't begin to exist doesn't exist" is a premise. It's intuitively correct in the same way that P1 of KCA is assumed to be correct, but can easily be proven wrong with a single example.

          • Here's the premise again:

            Premise 1 (P1): Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
            Can you think of a single example to easily prove this premise wrong?

          • primenumbers

            Radioactive decay happens randomly without cause.

            Where's your example to prove "whatever doesn't begin to exist doesn't exist" wrong?

          • "Radioactive decay happens randomly without cause."

            >> Observationally falsified. Multiple experiments, independent teams:

            http://www.ptep-online.com/index_files/2012/PP-30-02.PDF

            http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2010/100830FischbachJenkinsDec.html

          • primenumbers

            Non sequitur.

          • I don't think your proposed example is valid.
            Is radioactive decay really a "whatever" that "begins to exist"?

            Is the scientific claim regarding such decay that it happens without cause or is the claim that science just hasn't figured out exactly what the cause is?

            I'd assert that the "whatever" that begins to exist is the actual stuff that becomes unstable in the process of radioactive decay. There is not exactly a "whatever" that moves from non-existence to first-time existence in the process of decay.

          • primenumbers

            The claim is that it's random and that it lacks efficient cause. There's a thread up the top if you want to dive in there. The issue being that someone who proposes P1must now demonstrate cause in this case. The onus of proof is back on them.

            "There is not exactly a "whatever" that moves from non-existence to first-time existence in the process of decay." a gamma ray would fit that description of moving into existence from no previous existence.

            So now your turn to show me something that exists, but doesn't begin to exist to defeat my "whatever doesn't begin to exist doesn't exist" statement.

          • primenumbers

            So now your turn to show me something that exists, but doesn't begin to exist to defeat my "whatever doesn't begin to exist doesn't exist" statement.

          • No problem--but, in the same way I don't agree with your example, you won't agree with mine:
            Just one example: You-Know-Who... :-)
            PS--just for clarity--God is a "whatever" that doesn't begin to exist that exists, rather than a "something" (per how the terms have been used in this thread...

          • primenumbers

            Thanks - that's what I expected. Of course on my example we can actually go to the science, engage in the scientific process and determine if it's reasonable or not. With the example of God as a defeater, the very nature of God puts it beyond evidence, and that's why we're using argument to try and reach an answer on existence.

            And it gets us back around to the KCA which is essentially an argument via analogy that we look around and try to examine a potential link between existence and causal chains. We know not if the universe has a cause, so P1 sets up an argument by analogy from human level things we're aware of through to the universe itself. No such arguments are only as strong as the analogy and it's fair to say the universe as a thing is nothing like the type of human-level existence and causation we're aware of. And because it's a weak analogy, even the "may" of an uncaused event at quantum levels is enough to cast more than enough doubt to ensure we cannot in all honesty grant P1.

            With my argument using P1C, we must also have a defeater that exists, but the only defeater you can think of is the very topic of our real discussion. We care not that KCA thinks the universe is caused or not because the argument is just a precursor to an argument to the existence of God, which is what we're really interested in here.

            Now if P1C is defeated by your God example, that means there exists things that don't have a beginning. We can no see no objection in principle to the universe itself existing without a beginning. If it's valid for you to say that God is a defeater, I'm well within my sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander rights to say the very same thing for the universe to defeat P1, but I also have the backing of our quantum level maybe to bolster my case.

          • Latitude89

            Stanley L. Jaki, a Benedictine priest and physicist, has written a lot about the philosophy of science, particularly about the philosophy of quantum physics that apply to these kinds of discussions; that is, to arguments that touch upon the nature of 'causality' itself. If you get a chance, try reading his essay "Chance or Reality: Interaction in Nature Versus Measurement in Physics" (the first chapter of his book Chance or Reality and Other Essays). I unfortunately haven't been able to find an online version of the text to post here, but it's worth a read if you're able to find the hard copy.

            Basically, he seeks to distinguish the fundamental “difference between quantum mechanics as science,” from “the drastic philosophy its scientific architects… erected around that science.” Quantum physics, and the uncertainty principle, essentially just demonstrate that there is a limit to our ability to perfectly measure physical interactions at an atomic level, or to predict the exact behavior of atomic particles. On the other hand, the philosophy that scientist-philosophers developed from these findings says something much more bold- namely, that the inability to perfectly measure the behavior of atomic particles negates the existence of causality, the distinction between ‘material and non-material, and even any ‘real’ distinction between ‘being’ and ‘non-being’ itself (e.g., Heisenberg: “Since all experiments are subjected to the laws of quantum mechanics and thereby to the equation [delta x * delta mv > h], the invalidity of the law of causality is definitely proved by quantum mechanics."; Bertrand Russell: “For aught we know an atom may consist entirely of radiations which come out of it. It is useless to argue that radiations cannot come out of nothing… Matter is a convenient formula for describing what happens where it isn’t.”; Eddington: “The answer of modern physics is that strictly speaking there is no such thing as a K39 atom but only an atom which has a high probability of being K39.”)

            According to Jaki, the error here is in making “statements of causality… a question of strict measurability.” In fact, "the lack of precision in measurements and predictions is not logically equivalent to absence of causality." "Every argument, that, since some change cannot be 'determined' in the sense of 'ascertained', is therefore not 'determined' in the absolutely different sense of 'caused', is a fallacy of equivocation."

            In the absence of causality, “reality’s place was taken by chance, not the chance that stands for ignorance, but which stands for a philosophical ghost residing in the shadowy realm between being and non-being.” Jaki points out that while these scientist-philosophers are quick to deny causality as the source of reality and instead found reality upon chance, these same individuals rarely raise the question “about the sense in which chance is real, that is, part of being, although the quality of being operational is blissfully and unquestioningly attributed to that very same chance.”

            So, then, when it is proposed that nothing strictly ‘causes’ the radioactive decay of an atom other than ‘chance’, doesn’t it logically beg the question- what exactly do we mean by chance? “Do they mean something ontological or something which is merely a mathematical device? If they mean the latter, they should ask themselves whether there is a mathematical theory of randomness which would not include at least one, subtly concealed non-random parameter in the ensemble. If they have something ontological in mind, they should ask themselves whether, within their perspective, chance can be anything but a negation of ontological causality. In that case they should ponder the problem of non-being as the cause of something, that is, being. For such is ultimately the problem of a physical interaction in which either the effect comes into being without a cause, or contains a surplus with respect to its cause.”

          • Sample1

            I think what you are asking is for a theory for irregularity but that's not what's needed, what's needed is a theory explaining irregular irregularity.

            I await the mathematicians.

            Mike

          • Of course not.

            There is no possibility of logically demonstrating the contrary.

            That's the nice thing about logic.

            It is also why the atheist worldview is foundationally illogical.

            As this thread magnificently affirms.

          • If it *is* correct, then, since the universe exists, it had to have a beginning.

            The premises are

            Premise 1 (P1): Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
            Premise 2 (P2): The universe began to exist.

            I think the phrasing, which is odd, is important to the argument. Presumably it's phrased that way so that people can't say say, "Well, God exists, so he had to have a beginning." And people can argue, "No, wait. God exists, but he never began to exist, so he is exempt from the argument." It's kind of cheating, it seems to me. You phrase your premises in such a way as to ward off the logical response. And of course you define God as a thing that either existed from all eternity, or exists outside of time, and consequently is the one thing excluded from the argument.

          • I don't see it as cheating--its aim is modest, though--it merely establishes a reasonable way to understand why the universe has a beginning. If kept to that modest conclusion, all seems well. But when one tries to plug "God" directly into the equation by bypassing the "has a beginning" issue, it becomes absurd on other bases, such as having God creating Himself....

          • If kept to that modest conclusion, all seems well. But when one tries to plug "God" directly into the equation by bypassing the "has a beginning" issue, it becomes absurd on other bases, such as having God
            creating Himself....

            But you claim the only purpose of the proof is to prove that the universe had a cause. Why not just say, "Everything that exists had a cause; the universe exists; therefore the universe had a cause"? Because, of course, the real purpose of the proof is to prove that God exists. So you've got God up your sleeve when you state the proof, and you have to state it in such a way that when you produce God as the answer, nobody can apply the proof to God.

            You have a proof of the existence of God that makes assumptions of what God will be like in order to prove he exists.

            You are setting up two kinds of "things" in your premise: Every thing (except one) that exists has a cause. One thing that exists didn't have a cause. You are tricking people to accept the premise by saying, "Everything that begins to exist . . . " Because, as I said, you have God up your sleeve, and when you pull him out, you say, "Aha! I said everything that begins to exist, and you didn't challenge me. God didn't begin to exist. I win!"

          • So let me get one thing straight: You are one who accepts that the universe itself definitely had a *beginning*?

            I think it is important to specify what you mean by universe. I think there are many of us who have no problem saying that our universe, or the local universe, had a beginning in the sense that there was a big bang that happened about 14.8 billion years ago. But if by universe you mean "everything there is," that's another matter.

          • Actually, it isn't.

            Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

            We know that the quantum foam itself had a beginning.

            Therefore neither eternal inflation, nor epkyrotic "cyclic" universes a la Steinhardt, not "emergent" universes a la Hawking, stand against KCA P2.

            KCA P2 stands, as a matter of metaphysics, and as a matter of science.

            Which is only to be expected, since:

            Faith, while above reason, is never in conflict with right reason.

          • Can you explain why Vilenkin himself, whom you have been heavily relying on, says he agrees with Hawking that the origin of the universe is the result of "quantum nucleation from nothing"?

          • Because "nothing" in the above sentence, turns out to be something, and Vilenkin admits as much:

            ""And yet, the state of 'nothing' cannot be identified with absolute nothingness. The tunneling is described by the laws of quantum mechanics, and thus 'nothing' should be subjected to these laws"

            The atheist world view is predicated upon the logical absurdity that Nothing is Something.

            It is falsified right there.

            The rest is clean-up operations.

          • josh

            Rick, you don't seem to understand the atheist worldview. Maybe you should ask one?

          • josh:

            You say I don;t understand the atheist world view.

            I admit this is possible, but only if "atheist" means something other than what it says.

            It says:

            "no God".

            Does it mean something else?

          • josh

            "no God" is essentially correct. I would also accept 'it is irrational to believe in God' or 'no belief in God'. None of these stems from an assumption that Nothing is Something.

          • But Nothing is Something is the result of the logical working out of the premise, josh.

            That's my point.

            The premise yields absurdity.

            The worldview is falsified.

          • josh

            Okay, so not predicated on. Now let's see your logical working out of this supposed consequence.

          • The working out is as follows:

            1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
            2. The universe begins to exist
            3. The universe has a cause
            4. That cause is supernatural
            5. These premises are consistent with God, and inconsistent with atheism.

            That ought to do for starters.

            The only way for atheism to attempt a refutation of the above involves the logically necessary theorem that Nothing is Something.

            Which is absurd.

            Unless you have a new twist?

            Maybe you do.

            Love to consider it if you do.

          • josh

            1., 2. and 4. and 5. are suspect or incorrect. (3. is a lemma based on suspect or incorrect 1. and 2.) Not sure where 'Something is Nothing' is supposed to come from.

          • "1., 2. and 4. and 5. are suspect or incorrect. (3. is a lemma based on suspect or incorrect 1. and 2.)"

            >> Thanks for these assertions.

            Can you demonstrate them?

            " Not sure where 'Something is Nothing' is supposed to come from."

            >> You will, should you undertake a demonstration of your assertions.

          • josh

            1. 2. 4. and 5. are your assertions. My demonstration that they are suspect is your inability to demonstrate them. To show which are incorrect I would need you to define your terms better.

          • Sorry. You alleged to be able to show that they were suspect or in error.

            If you can't, then they stand.

            There is nothing illogical about any of them.

            If there were, then you would be able to show this.

            You cannot, or at least have not given any evidence that you can.

            You allege them to have been incorrect, and then admit you need the terms defined, which falsifies your initial assertion.

            So I await any demonstration of your claims.

            Otherwise its been fun.

          • josh

            I allege them to be suspect AND/OR incorrect and I asked you to define your terms if you want me to point out which is which. Nothing falsifies my original assertions here. They are suspect because you don't have a solid argument for them. If you can dismiss my assertions I can dismiss yours. (Which, ironically, makes my assertion valid.)

            But since I'm a generous guy, I'll help you out.

            1.)Begins to exist is not well defined. All our observations point to the world as a continuously evolving whole where 'begins to exist' in time or space is as problematic as asserting where orange begins to exist on a continuous color spectrum. The possible exception would be quantum events involving fundamental fields, where discrete transitions might occur, but where no cause for the specific transition observed can be shown. Putting that aside, the notion of 'cause' is also not well defined and modern physics, which extrapolates from information along one patch of space time to another, shows no preferred direction. We can always take the view that any change is only relative to a change of perspective along one dimension of the whole, so the whole is unchanging and 'causes' are only relative to a choice of perspective.

            2.) We've been through this before but the uncertainty of physics near Big Bang scales means we can't say with surety whether there is a singularity or not. Even if there is, there is no solution for time coordinates before zero so it's not clear what the universe would be 'beginning' in. The universe exists and things 'begin' within it.

            4.)If the universe can be sensibly said to have a cause there is no reason to think it is supernatural. Supernatural explanations are primitive appeals to mind-like animisms and vague invisible forces. The entire progress of science has been away from these folk metaphysics. There could be some future view of physics by which our current paradigms are inadequate, in the way that Newton is inadequate for Einstein, but I highly doubt we will move back to superstition.

            5.)Strictly, an atheist doesn't believe in God. For myself I would include 'has no religion'. But if some future explanation of things is vastly different from our current ideas of 'natural', there is no reason to think it will be a religion or to invoke God. I don't worship explanations. No transcendent authority would derive from a better understanding of the universe.

          • 1.)Begins to exist is not well defined. All our observations point to the world as a continuously evolving whole where 'begins to exist' in time or space is as problematic as asserting where orange begins to exist on a continuous color spectrum.

            >> This is exactly as true as it is irrelevant. Reality involves both discrete and continuous phenomena. This has nothing to do with whether the phenomena begin to exist.

            An discrete phenomenon:

            Josh exists.

            There was a time when Josh did not exist.

            The coming into eistence of Josh might have been a discrete, or a continuous, phenomenon.

            It doesn't matter at all.

            Josh certainly begins to exist.

            This is because there was a time when he didn't.

            "The possible exception would be quantum events involving fundamental fields, where discrete transitions might occur, but where no cause for the specific transition observed can be shown."

            >> Many things cannot be predicted.

            So what?

            They occur, and they are observed.

            No fundamental field has ever been observed.

            "Putting that aside, the notion of 'cause' is also not well defined"

            >> It is perfectly defined. Cause= that which actualizes some potential.

            "and modern physics, which extrapolates from information along one patch of space time to another, shows no preferred direction."

            >> Completely false. There exists a preferred direction in space- space itself is anisotropic and the anisotropy is aligned with the Earth's equator.

            "We can always take the view that any change is only relative to a change of perspective along one dimension of the whole, so the whole is unchanging and 'causes' are only relative to a choice of perspective."

            >> Certainly one can take any view. The question is whether the view is true or false. This view is demonstrably false as a matter of science.

            "2.) We've been through this before but the uncertainty of physics near Big Bang scales means we can't say with surety whether there is a singularity or not."

            >> If the universe is expanding on average, then there is a singularity.

            The universe is expanding on average, ergo, there is a singularity.

            "Even if there is, there is no solution for time coordinates before zero so it's not clear what the universe would be 'beginning' in. The universe exists and things 'begin' within it."

            >> Irrelevant. Causes can be temporal, or ontological. If time comes into existence at t=0, then even physicists must admit that there are causes ontologically prior to t=0.

            "4.)If the universe can be sensibly said to have a cause there is no reason to think it is supernatural."

            >> To the contrary, it is certain that the cause is supernatural, since the word "universe" subsumes all natural things.

            " Supernatural explanations are primitive appeals to mind-like animisms and vague invisible forces."

            >> No. Supernatural simply means "above natural". It is quite obvious that the natural order begins at t=0, and it cannot have caused itself. Therefore a *super* natural cause is certain.

            "The entire progress of science has been away from these folk metaphysics."

            >> Science has gone crazy for want of good metaphysics:

            http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2011/12/why-has-science-gone-crazy.html

            "There could be some future view of physics by which our current paradigms are inadequate, in the way that Newton is inadequate for Einstein, but I highly doubt we will move back to superstition."

            >> This is true. Christ has come, and His civilization has brought forth the metaphysics whichn underlie the scientific method.

            New Atheism cannot survive such constraints, and will not.

            "5.)Strictly, an atheist doesn't believe in God. For myself I would include 'has no religion'. But if some future explanation of things is vastly different from our current ideas of 'natural', there is no reason to think it will be a religion or to invoke God. I don't worship explanations. No transcendent authority would derive from a better understanding of the universe."

            >> The transcendent Authority does not "derive from" anything.

            Your understanding of the universe derives its fatal self-contradictions, from the fact that you attempt to derive it without reference to Him.

          • josh

            "Reality involves both discrete and continuous phenomena. This has nothing to do with whether the phenomena begin to exist." Orange does not begin to exist, there is a continuous transformation from yellow to orange, similarly there is a continuous transformation from 'not me' to 'current me'. If you can't define a non-arbitrary point at which yellow ceases to exist and is replaced with orange then you don't have a good definition of 'begins to exist.'

            "They occur, and they are observed." But a cause is not, undermining your contention that everything which 'begins' is 'caused'.

            "Cause= that which actualizes some potential." You dismiss quantum fields as unobserved but now want to insert imaginary potentials? And how could you tell what 'actualizes' a potential?

            "Completely false. There exists a preferred direction in space- space itself is anisotropic and the anisotropy is aligned with the Earth's
            equator." This is you not understanding the difference between dynamics and the local conditions. The laws of physics show no preferred direction in time or space. That doesn't mean no anisotropies, do you think scientists are baffled by magnets with a preferred direction?

            "This view is demonstrably false as a matter of science." Umm, this view is the scientific view. I don't think you grasp the concept.

            "The universe is expanding on average, ergo, there is a singularity." No, the universe has (apparently) expanded for the past 13+ billion years, what it was doing before then we don't know. You have to know what it was doing before to compute the average.

            "Causes can be temporal, or ontological. If time comes into existence at t=0, then even physicists must admit that there are causes ontologically
            prior to t=0." The argument is about things that begin to exist having a cause, i.e. a temporal cause. You are now introducing an ad hoc 'ontological' cause, to which physicists, like myself say "What the hell is that, how do you define it and how do you test it". But aside from that, we were talking about the universe having a beginning. That it has a cause is a conclusion based on your premise that things with beginnings have causes, but I am pointing out that it doesn't have a defined beginning in the singularity scenario (it has a boundary, this is different).

            "To the contrary, it is certain that the cause is supernatural, since the word "universe" subsumes all natural things." I can as well define 'universe' to subsume all things period. You are simply begging the question and failing to define 'natural' now.

            "Supernatural simply means "above natural"." Again, a meaningless no-true-Scotsman waiting to happen. There may be some model with one end of time at t=0 embedded in a larger mathematical framework. No one would call this supernatural. Furthermore, the broader you make your definition of 'supernatural', the less arguable 5.) becomes.

            "Science has gone crazy for want of good metaphysics" It's weird how science continues to progress while ignoring the protestations of a few atavistic cranks who cover their eyes and insist it can't be doing so.

            "Christ has come, and His civilization has brought forth the metaphysics which underlie the scientific method." That's funny, you were just protesting the scientific method. Christ has come and gone and 'his civilization' has been fading into irrelevance for the past few centuries at least.

            "The transcendent Authority does not "derive from" anything." Maybe if You Reify a few More Words it will Give you an Argument And you won't Have to bother with Reading for Comprehension.

            "Your understanding of the universe derives its fatal
            self-contradictions, from the fact that you attempt to derive it without reference to Him." Says the believer in a trinitarian unity, simultaneously all God and all Man, who payed the highest price in death but lives eternally, infinitely powerful and benevolent but incapable of preventing child rape, unchanging but covenant changing, perfectly simple but infinitely knowledgeable, definitive of good but not arbitrary, omniscient all-creating but free-will giving, infinitely merciful but eternally punishing, paying-a-blood-debt to itself from itself, active in creation but undetectable, totally-not-made-up person-spirit-abstract-ground-of-being.

          • "Orange does not begin to exist,"
            >> If that were true, then there could be no transformation *from* yellow *to* orange, but:

            "there is a continuous transformation from yellow to orange,"

            >> The words "from" and "to" above falsify your premise. Orange obviously begins to exist, once the yellow has transformed *from* yellow *to* orange.

            "similarly there is a continuous transformation from 'not me' to 'current me'."

            >> False. There is a continuous transformation from *initial you* to *current you*.

            The transformation from *no you* to *existing you* is not continuous.

            It is the very essence of discontinuous.

            " If you can't define a non-arbitrary point at which yellow ceases to exist and is replaced with orange then you don't have a good definition of 'begins to exist.'

            >> To the contrary. The fact that the transformation is continuous does not in any falsify the *fact* that yellow transforms *from* yellow *to* orange, and that orange has certainly begun to exist, once we notice that it is no longer yellow, but orange, that we are looking at.

            "They occur, and they are observed." But a cause is not, undermining your contention that everything which 'begins' is 'caused'.

            >> To the contrary. Everything that involves a change involves a cause. Every change involves the actualization of a potential. Every actualization of a potential is the result of a cause.

            "Cause= that which actualizes some potential." You dismiss quantum fields as unobserved but now want to insert imaginary potentials? And how could you tell what 'actualizes' a potential?

            >> Quite easily. That which actualizes the potential Josh, is the fertilization of egg by sperm.

            "Completely false. There exists a preferred direction in space- space itself is anisotropic and the anisotropy is aligned with the Earth's
            equator." This is you not understanding the difference between dynamics and the local conditions. The laws of physics show no preferred direction in time or space.

            >> Any such alleged "laws" of physics are wrong, having been observationally falsified.

            "That doesn't mean no anisotropies, do you think scientists are baffled by magnets with a preferred direction?"

            >> Do you think scientists attribute the five sigma dipole in the radio sky to magnetism?

            "This view is demonstrably false as a matter of science." Umm, this view is the scientific view. I don't think you grasp the concept.

            >> To the contrary. You assert a "law" of physics that space must be isotropic and homogeneous. This is false.

            Space is not isotropic, is not homogeneous, and the law is going to have to be retired in the face of the observation.

            "The universe is expanding on average, ergo, there is a singularity." No, the universe has (apparently) expanded for the past 13+ billion years, what it was doing before then we don't know. You have to know what it was doing before to compute the average.

            >> To the contrary. Whether the universe has existed for 13.8 billion years, or 7,200 years, it has expanded on average, and this is a completely non-controversial point of unanimity among scientists.

            "Causes can be temporal, or ontological. If time comes into existence at t=0, then even physicists must admit that there are causes ontologically
            prior to t=0." The argument is about things that begin to exist having a cause, i.e. a temporal cause.

            >> As above. It is absurd to suggest that the universe begins at t=0, and hence is uncaused. The inflation theory requires the *pre-existence* of a quantum field from which inflation begins, and therefore to assert that t=0 cannot be caused merely because we have arbitrarily defined t=0 as an ontological singularity is nothing but nominalist balderdash.

            "You are now introducing an ad hoc 'ontological' cause, to which physicists, like myself say "What the hell is that, how do you define it and how do you test it".

            >> Quite to the contrary. Q Quine himself has carefully employed the term "Extrapolated Time" on these threads to address this question.

            Michio Kaku has used the term "meta time" in a discussion with me specifically to address the issue of ontologically prior entities giving rise to inflation, and hence to our Hubble Bubble, and hence to t=0.

            "But aside from that, we were talking about the universe having a beginning. That it has a cause is a conclusion based on your premise that things with beginnings have causes, but I am pointing out that it doesn't have a defined beginning in the singularity scenario (it has a boundary, this is different)."

            Nothing that you have introduced in any way addresses your problem, which is this:

            Josh began to exist.

            Josh cannot have existed before he began to exist.

            Therefore Josh began to exist as a result of a cause.

            Take "universe" for "Josh" above, and notice how consistent reason is, in comparison to bomfoggery.

          • josh

            Oy are you not getting this. That whooshing sound is about a dozen different points flying over your head. Frankly, it's exhausting trying to get these ideas across to someone who shows no interest in understanding them, but I hope some other reader will benefit. I'm just going to try one more time to illustrate one important point here.

            Imagine a bell curve (gaussian). The curve extends infinitely in both directions and is centered at x=zero. Where does the curve begin? It doesn't, it extends infinitely. Where is the hump? It is localized around zero. Where does the hump begin? As an approximation, we might say that the hump begins around x= +/- 2. Or x =+/-3 or whatever you like. But does the hump really begin at one of these points? No. The nature of the hump is to have no beginning because it is just a part of the continuous curve.

            If you choose to define the hump as that portion of the curve lying between two points, you can have a consistent definition but it is arbitrary. You aren't saying anything real about the 'metaphysical' hump. The hump, as a discrete thing that begins and ends, is a concept in your brain, not a real thing independent of it. For many purposes it may be a useful concept, but you can't take it to be a fundamental statement about the curve, and you can't extrapolate from your arbitrary definition to anything interesting about it. Your category 'hump' is a heuristic and it fails for a more complete understanding of the curve. You are forcing a false dichotomy by insisting that it exists at one point and doesn't exist at another. If you can understand this thought experiment you can grasp the point I was making about yellow-orange and the implications for your simple notion of causes.

          • "Oy are you not getting this."

            >> Either that, or else you are simply wrong.

            "That whooshing sound is about a dozen different points flying over your head."

            >> Either that, or your points proceed from a knowably false premise.

            " Frankly, it's exhausting trying to get these ideas across to someone who shows no interest in understanding them, but I hope some other reader will benefit. I'm just going to try one more time to illustrate one important point here."

            >> I fully agree- the point of dialogue here is not to convert either the determined atheist or the committed Catholic, butn instead to allow the interested third party to assess the relative merits of the arguments.

            "Imagine a bell curve (gaussian). The curve extends infinitely in both directions and is centered at x=zero. Where does the curve begin? It doesn't, it extends infinitely.

            >> Imagine taking the above case and writing the bell curve down on a sheet of paper.

            Imagine next employing the argument above as somehow demonstrating that the bell curve on the sheet of paper somehow doesn't begin to exist. Or that it has no cause for having come into existence.

            This is the film-flammery of the argument.

            Mathematical conceptions involve infinity.

            Infinity does not exist in physics, other than as a big bright red warning flag, signalling "hey! You have departed physics and entered into metaphysics! Stop the bait and switch!"

            "Where is the hump? It is localized around zero. Where does the hump begin? As an approximation, we might say that the hump begins around x= +/- 2. Or x =+/-3 or whatever you like. But does the hump really begin at one of these points? No. The nature of the hump is to have no beginning because it is just a part of the continuous curve."

            >> You refer to a "hump". You claim it does not begin at a given point. What you have shown is that reality is not reducible to an everywhere-dense number line.

            This has been known for a very long time.

          • josh

            "Imagine next employing the argument above as somehow demonstrating that
            the bell curve on the sheet of paper somehow doesn't begin to exist. Or
            that it has no cause for having come into existence."

            Yes, the x-axis in my thought experiment can represent time. It shows that if my caveats about beginnings being approximations in the curve are true, which they obviously are, then the same could be true of how we think about events in time. Do I begin to draw the curve when I think about it (and when does that begin exactly)?, when the pencil is a millimeter above the paper?, when the first atom of the pencil touches the first atom of the paper?, but what is the first atom when atoms are constantly boiling off and on to both surfaces? and an atom is only an approximation itself, I have a continuous electric field that exists between one 'atom' and the 'next', and at base everything is done in terms of continuous quantum fields at our current level of understanding. So my beginning to draw the curve is a discrete approximation, but you can't take the approximation outside its domain of applicability and pretend that the 'beginning' is a metaphysical fact.

            "What you have shown is that reality is not reducible to an everywhere-dense number line.
            This has been known for a very long time."

            'I don't like a consistent result, therefore it is not true.' Really, if you've just proved that time and space are discrete you shouldn't be bothering with this website you should be claiming your Nobel prize. But first note that if time and space are in fact discrete it is at unimaginably small scales, above which the continuous limit is a very good approximation and well above that is the approximation that 'Josh' or 'my drawing' is a discrete thing. This is like arguing that a wave on the ocean has a discrete beginning because it is really made of fundamental atoms. The wave in that picture is still not a fundamental thing, any beginning or end it has will be up to an arbitrary definition in terms of individual atoms. Furthermore, when we look at the discrete atoms, does one change into another? Not really, they are distinct things. One atom exists at one point in space and time and another elsewhere. Every atom (in this picture you propose) is exactly what it is, unchanging. Whoops! There go Aristotelian potentials.

          • "Whoops! There go Aristotelian potentials."

            >> Josh, as George Ellis said concerning the multiverse, "the problem with the argument is that it proves too much."

            In your desire to erase the Aristotetelian categories (which you must do in order to negate the KCA) you have shown that:

            1. No only does the universe have no beginning, neither does Josh, or his writing down a bell curve, nor anything else.

            2. Nothing actually exists except that " the continuous limit is a very good approximation and well above that is the approximation that 'Josh' or 'my drawing' is a discrete thing."-- for you, Josh, that which is real does not exist, and that which appears to exist is only a limit, an illusion.

            3. Except you will- *of course!*- immediately contradict your own metaphysics (since it were impossible for you not to do so- the atheist worldview is impossible to actually live, thank God):

            "Every atom (in this picture you propose) is exactly what it is, unchanging"

            But of course it isn't.

            You see, every atom with the property of emitting radiation is...well...emitting radiation, and hence changing from one kind of atom into another kind of atom.

            The good thing, Josh, is that your confusion, so profound as to render you unable to do physics, or anything else involving reason, is metaphysical in nature.

            Science is quite capable of bootstrapping its way to cell phones and electron microscopes by treating these phenomena *mathematically* as if they were probabilistic.

            God, of course, knows exactly when each and every particle decays, and we know this for sure.

            The fuzzy world of your metaphysics resolves into a predictable and lawful world at classical scales- and guess what?

            There aren't two worlds- a quantum and a classical world.

            There is one world, which our physicists are unable to describe consistently- in fact the attempt to do so yields answers so supremely wrong- the most stupendously wrong in the history of science!- that we ought to be charitable toward them as they work through the difficulty.

            Our duty to them is to resolutely refuse to allow them to go insane- or, failing that, resolutely refusing to join them in metaphysical insanity- in the meantime.

          • josh

            It's not my desire to eliminate Aristotle's metaphysics, I just find it insufficient for the job at hand.

            1. This is what I initially claimed, the terms you are using are approximations, so I have proved what I needed.

            2. I didn't at all show that that which is real doesn't exist, I showed that the categories into which you and I conveniently sort reality aren't fundamental. Your belief that these categories are fundamentally real and well defined is an illusion, my belief that they are useful approximations with limited domains of application is supported.

            3. The 'atoms in a wave' picture was an illustration, not a realistically complete model of physics. The atoms in the illustration don't radiate. But if you want to complicate the picture and miss the point, introducing radiation just reintroduces the dilemma. Either you are talking about continuous phenomena, or 'one type of atom' and 'another type of atom plus radiation' are different things and one doesn't change into another, they occupy different locations on our space-time coordinate.

            Now I haven't said anything that relies on probabilistic vs. deterministic takes on physics, which suggests that you aren't following along when you bring it up. But I agree, there aren't two worlds, there is a relativistic quantum world (at least), the classical world is only an approximation. The appearance of the latter stems from your lack of resolution, like thinking that two closely spaced dots are one. For some purposes, treating the two dots as one is fine, but it isn't for all because the one dot isn't real in an absolute sense. It could be that the 'two dot' description is also only approximate, but they aren't going to turn back into to the 'classical' one dot at higher resolution.

          • "But I agree, there aren't two worlds"

            >> Thus rendering the assertion that reality is random and causeless false.

            "there is a relativistic quantum world (at least), the classical world is only an approximation."

            >> To the contrary. We directly observe the order in the classical world, and are unable to mathematically account for this as the outcome of quantum randomity.

            The conflict between the two mathematical models is so gigantic as to constitute the single greatest contradiction in the history of science.

            This is not meant as a criticism of the scientists- contradictions/anomalies are the precious treasures of the scientific method.

            They always signify that we have encountered a shortcoming in our models, in our scientific understanding.

            I understand why you have chosen to cast your lot with the quantum theory as metaphysically primary- it is the natural choice of your atheist metaphysics, which is a "bottom up" metaphysics.

            It is also knowably false, for the precise reason that you cannot generate a consistent theory which generates the classical world "bottom up" from the alleged quantum "fundamental field".

            Additionally, your adoption of the "bottom up" approach requires you to divest yourself of the very concepts of scientific experimentation, which yielded the classical physics which has so dramatically increased our species' power to survive in the first place.

            I thank you and your co-thinkers.

            You have arrived at a dead end.

            But that dead end is profoundly important and will yield the next great advances in physics.....

            Once we turn around and go back to the fork in the road that led us to the dead end.

          • I found this quote from Vilenkin, whom you have relied on heavily as an authority:

            [I]f someone asks me whether or not the theorem I proved with Borde and Guth implies that the universe had a beginning, I would say that the short answer is “yes”. If you are willing to get into subtleties, then the answer is “No, but…” So, there are ways to get around having a beginning, but then you are forced to have something nearly as special as a beginning.

            Of course, he's one of those crazy scientists, so what does he know?

          • Vilenkin and I completely agree.

            I have previously offered to show a correspondent how to get around BGV.

            It is quite easy.

            I am surprised nobody on the atheist side has figured it out yet.

            But the cost in credibility is quite high :-)

          • epeeist

            If we ponder the meaning of "beginning" and "begins", we can see clearly that this refers to having an origin at a certain point in time. Other than God Himself, I cannot conceive of any-"whatever" that does not have
            an origin in time.

            But given that the majority of physicists would claim that space-time only came into existence with the universe then why shouldn't the same apply to the universe?

          • primenumbers

            The "whatever" of the argument is broad enough to apply to all. You define God in such a manner that any argument that has some kind of real thing in it's premise cannot be logically connected to your God - is that what you desire?

          • No, I'm rather pointing out that there is a logical necessity to keep the "God part" separate from the "everything" part. If God is part of everything *and* creates everything, then God is responsible for creating Himself, an impossibility.

          • primenumbers

            There's no logical necessity for doing as you suggest, other than to exempt God from logical argument. If "everything" cannot refer to God, then you've just destroyed the meaning of "everything". In the KCA it's "power" and "scope" come from it's use of "whatever". If whatever cannot refer to God, it's not valid for God to be elsewhere in the argument either. Either God is something we can discuss with other things, or it is not. If it's not, then we cannot use words like "exists" to say "God exists", and the theist is doomed by their own definition to admit that to say "God exists" is nonsense.

          • But in the KCA, it's not merely "whatever" but is "whatever begins to exist". By definition, God is not included in the category "whatever begins to exist" since God does not begin to exist...

          • Rationalist1

            Why do you posit that God does not begin to exist?

          • A thorough response would be found in Aquinas' proofs, but in simple terms, one describes "God" as eternal because, if God Himself had a beginning (the KCA proof kicks in at this point), then God would have a "cause" and therefore not be God--the "cause" for God would have to be God....

          • Rationalist1

            But I could equally say that the "Primordial Nothingness" that spawned the universe through a quantum fluctuation always existed.

            Or that this universe had a plethora of Gods as a cause. Perhaps it was a committee that created the universe. ( I said that as a joke but actually that could explain a lot.)

          • But the point at hand remains, relative to the OP and KCA proof, is that "creation from nothing" is a "God-proving" category employed by some atheists to explain the threshold of evidence required for belief in God. That if the the amputated limb is restore from nothing, that would indicate the existence of God. The KCA proof necessitates that something that does not "begin to exist" exists as the "cause" of everything that begins to exist--which counts as creation from nothing by a cause that exists apart from everything with a beginning.
            Once the reasonability of this view is agreed upon, *then* we are able to discuss other aspects of the "cause"--why the "cause" must be God (not gods) and why the "cause" must be "being" itself (not merely an uncreated "whatever")...

          • Rationalist1

            But the limb existed before hand in a foreshortened state. I agree that the restore an amputated limb through prayer would make me stop and pay attention but that's not the type of creation from nothing the KCA proof requires.

          • Either God is something we can discuss with other things, or it is not. If it's not, then we cannot use words like "exists" to say "God exists", and the theist is doomed by their own definition to admit that to say "God exists" is nonsense.

            Prime - I notice you hit on this subject a lot, also in terms of Kant and the ontological argument ("existence is not a predicate"). A key distinction: Duns Scotus held that God exists in the same sense that you or a tree exists - the "univocity of being". This line of thinking runs down through the Reformation, and to this day, apologists like WLC have this view of God: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-god-a-being-in-the-same-sense-that-we-are

            Aquinas disagreed, arguing (I think rightly) that our existence and God's existence is analogical, not univocal. When we use the word "exists" we are speaking with an analogical predication: God is not the highest being (Anslem) side-by-side with us to another degree, but the act of to be itself in which we participate. This is a metaphysics of communion, not competition, which accounts for the distinction without severing the similarity. This subtle theological distinction has huge effects on history and philosophy right up to the present day. Hahn and Fr. Barron discuss its impacts here:

            http://youtu.be/Tw6TCu6LwAE

          • josh

            "Aquinas disagreed, arguing (I think rightly) that our existence and
            God's existence is analogical, not univocal. When we use the word
            "exists" we are speaking with an analogical predication: God is not the
            highest being (Anslem) side-by-side with us to another degree, but the
            act of to be itself in which we participate. This is a metaphysics of
            communion, not competition, which accounts for the difference without
            severing the similarity. This subtle theological distinction has huge
            effects on history and philosophy right up to the present day."

            One of the emptier bits of verbiage I have ever come across. This is basically a concession that to say "God exists" is nonsense.

          • Hey Josh - You may be right about nonsense, in a sense. After seeing ultimate reality for himself shortly before his death, he likened his work to a pile of straw.

          • You concede too much here in my opinion, Matthew.

            I have always found the Dumb Ox to confirm his genius most of all in the episode you relate.

            I have always found the Church to confirm Her Wisdom most in refusing to agree with him.

          • primenumbers

            If you take the Aquinas view, then we cannot reasonably say God exists or doesn't exist. At that point our discussion can end, because if we can't even agree on what exists means, there's little point discussing God much further. We could have a discussion on what "exists" means, but I'd see that as a worrying blow to theism if the theist cannot reasonably say God exist. To say God is "the act of to be itself" is an example of what I'd call "argument by poetry", in that there are words strung together in a sentence, that we can sort-of understand, but upon any analysis it doesn't produce a coherent concept. That I can agree with WLC (strange feeling inside of me on this one) that Aquinas doesn't make sense, I cannot agree with him that "God alone is self-existent", as that is using existence as a property in a definition, which it cannot be else it leads to similar issues that I note above.

          • Hey, I got you to agree with William Lane Craig - no small feat!

            If you take the Aquinas view, then we cannot reasonably say God exists or doesn't exist.

            If by "reasonably say God exists" you mean to say, "say that God exists in the same way we say we exist," this is just tautological. Aquinas does argue that we can reasonably say that God exists - the "ways" are there in the philosophical work of the ancients - but given who and what God is we simply can't regard his "exists" in quite the same way we regard the "exists" of creatures. If we can agree that God is the immutable, infinite creative source of all mutable, finite things, it seems only reasonable that his existence should not be univocal or equivocal to ours (neither of which accounts for who God is, or how philosophers can write of him coherently apart from revelation), but primary and ours secondary - in a word, analogical. (More on analogy:
            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/analogy-medieval/)

            Remember, analogy is not equivocity - it does not mean completely different meanings, but inter-related yet distinct meanings. A helpful example Aquinas uses is fire: "Just as that which has fire, but is not itself fire, is on fire by participation; so that which has existence but is not existence, is a being by participation." The sun, too, emits heat as Arizona pavement emits heat, but we can't say that they emit heat in quite the same way; the sun is the primary source of heat, and the sidewalk gets what it emits - borrowed, limited, secondary heat - from that source.

            The way to God is there, and reasonable - the key is to seek. It's there through the via negativa, the beauty, order, and wonder of his creation, the call of conscience, the nature of love - things we do see, experience, and understand. The demand to subdue and fully comprehend YHWH ("He Causes to be") - a term that Jewish tradition deemed unutterable - or else insist that there is nothing to discuss, strikes me as the unreasonable thing.

          • primenumbers

            It's when you say for Aquinas: God is"but the act of to be itself" that lends us to not be able to reasonably say God exists. By placing existence itself as part of the God definition we're now unable to say "existence doesn't exist" (which is contradictory) or "existence exists" which doesn't actually say anything. This is not so much about whether "exists" is being used in the same way that it's used for us, but whether "exists" is being used in a reasonable way at all. Existence cannot be used as a property without encountering issues that lead to nonsense.

            "The way to God is there, and reasonable - the key is to seek." - well no. God is not reasonable as no reasonable description of God has ever been provided. If there is a God and we wish to know that there's a God, the only way would be through reliable epistemologies (not the unreliable epistemology of faith that has lead to the chaos of religious belief on this planet), and reliable epistemologies don't lead to knowledge of a God, but to the realization that there is no God.

            To ask someone to seek is quite frankly a real apologetic cop-out. Not only is it not reasonable to seek for something that doesn't have a coherent definition, that there's no reliable method of finding even if it does exist and no weight of evidence to suggest that it does, but it plays right into the hands of known human cognitive biases, which just add to the unreliability of any positive outcome.

          • It's when you say for Aquinas: God is"but the act of to be itself" that lends us to not be able to reasonably say God exists. By placing existence itself as part of the God definition we're now unable to say "existence doesn't exist" (which is contradictory) or "existence exists" which doesn't actually say anything.

            "Existence doesn't exist" is clearly contradictory, yes. But Aquinas admits that "God is not" can be mentally admitted (First Part, Question 2, Article 1) - which is obvious enough. And like a good Aristotelian he believes in the law of non-contradiction, meaning that "God is not" is not equivalent to "existence doesn't exist."

            "Existence exists" is clearly tautology. But again, this is not what Aquinas means by "God is."

            What's going on here? I think we need to ask, what do you mean by "existence," and when it can be reasonably said to be the case? Something tells me that this theological distinction is ancillary to a larger problem - namely, we're working from different metaphysical assumptions. If you imagine that there is a real distinction between what a thing is (essence) and that a thing is (existence), the Thomistic framework comes together - God's uncomposed essence, and analogical existence, discoverable through his composed, finite creation. But if "existence" and its reasonable articulation for you is materialism (or something like it) and its study, then the Thomistic "God's essence is existence" begins to look like pantheism (God is material existence), or else a statement of fact that can very well dispense with God's essence and stick to existence. The framework precludes God, who is immaterial. I suppose what we're really discussing, at root, is whether what is material is all we can know - an assumption that Aquinas and Aristotle certainly didn't share.

          • primenumbers

            "But Aquinas admits that "God is not" can be mentally admitted " - that's fair enough. But if we can legitimately say "God does not exist" I cannot accept a definition of God that is "but the act of to be itself".

            "we're working from different metaphysical assumptions" - sounds like it might be the case but....

            "at root, is whether what is material is all we can know " I don't see that as a fair characterization of metaphysical naturalism though. Let me try to explain - I see MN as a result of an evidence based epistemology, so that MN is only to be characterized as everything is material in that anything that is none-material that has evidence for it's existence gets subsumed into the natural world. I think what we have therefore is not so much competing metaphysical assumptions but different epistemologies, the metaphysical assumptions being a natural consequence of the use of those epistemologies.

          • Yes, epistemology is huge! I think (correct me if I'm wrong) I referred you to Taylor's "Overcoming Epistemology" a few weeks back, which you didn't care for. But let me paste a few passages that deal with exactly what we're talking about:

            On one side, the mechanization of the world picture undermined the previously dominant understanding of knowledge and thus paved the way for the modern view. The most important traditional view was Aristotle’s, according to which when we come to know something, the mind (nous) becomes one with the object of thought. Of course this is not to say that they become materially the same thing; rather, mind and object are informed by the same eidos...The basic bent of Aristotle’s model could much better be described as participational: being informed by the same eidos, the mind participates in the being of the known object, rather than simply depicting it.

            But this theory totally depends on the philosophy of Forms. Once we no longer explain the way things are in terms of the species that inform them, this conception of knowledge is untenable and rapidly becomes almost unintelligible. We have great difficulty in understanding it today. The representational view can then appear as the only available alternative...the representational view was also powered by the new ideals of science, and new conceptions of the excellence of thought, that arose at the same time.

            This connection was central to Descartes’ philosophy. It was one of his leading ideas that science, or real knowledge, does not simply consist of a congruence between ideas in the mind and the reality outside. If the object of my musings happens to coincide with real events in the world, this doesn’t give me knowledge of them. The congruence has to come about through a reliable method, generating well-founded confidence. Science requires certainty, and this can only be based on that undeniable clarity Descartes called évidence.

            Taylor examines the reflexive nature of Descartes' turn, and the practical, or anthropological, upshot of that reflexive mentality (disengagement, instrumental reason, atomism). But the story of the past few centuries is of epistemology turning on itself and crumbling:

            There is a continuity between Kant and Heidegger, Wittgenstein, or Merleau-Ponty. They all start from the intuition that this central phenomenon of experience, or the clearing, is not made intelligible on the epistemological construal, in either its empiricist or rationalist variants...

            The tremendous contribution of Heidegger, like that of Kant, consists in having focused the issue properly. Once this is done, we can’t deny the picture that emerges. Even in our theoretical stance to the world, we are agents. Even to find out about the world and formulate disinterested pictures, we have to come to grips with it, experiment, set ourselves to observe, control conditions. But in all this, which forms the indispensable basis of theory, we are engaged as agents coping with things. It is clear that we couldn’t form disinterested representations any other way.

            But once we take this point, then the entire epistemological position is undermined. Obviously foundationalism goes...

            But the argument here cuts deeper. Foundationalism is undermined because you can’t go on digging under our ordinary representations to uncover further, more basic representations. What you get underlying our representations of the world - the kinds of things we formulate, for instance, in declarative sentences - is not further representation but rather a certain grasp of the world that we have as agents in it. This shows the whole epistemological construal of knowledge to be mistaken.

            In short: "epistemology seems in a bad way these days."

            Now, I'm convinced that the link between the scientific method and the epistemological turn wasn't necessary, but merely the result of historical forces, especially of Descartes' works; and I think an analytic thinker like Thomas Nagel is key to seeing our way through the death of epistemology without feeling like we're turning back the clock. The fact that Nagel is accused of being "anti-science" (as Heidegger and continental philosophers routinely are) suggests that we've gone too far in linking a certain philosophical epistemology (and perhaps its moral/spiritual implications) with the scientific method, historically. But the connection has been bad for humanity because science has by and large been massively successful and helpful, but the epistemological turn has by and large been disastrous, and slowly self-destructive. As to what the next turn will look like, one can only imagine - but I suspect that Taylor has hit the nail on the head.

          • primenumbers

            Can you elucidate on the point: "But the connection has been bad for humanity because science has by and large been massively successful and helpful, but the epistemological turn has by and large been disastrous, and slowly self-destructive." - which epistemological turn, and why disastrous for humanity as a whole?

            BTW, I'm not so much thinking about what is knowledge, but the methods by which we attain knowledge, which I think is also covered by my use of "epistemology" in context.

          • The problem is that when you invoke the word epistemology, you're tying a methodology to a mentality, a process to a philosophy, a method of knowing to what constitutes knowing at all. This is important, but in invoking these considerations, we need to then look at what the rules are and where they come from. Again, this is why history is so important. (It boggles my mind when analytic philosophers turn their nose up at historical considerations. Would we ever expect to understand our own lives apart from our histories? Our key decisions, experiences, friendships, foes?)

            The epistemological turn is described in great detail by Taylor - a lot of the ground is covered in that first quote. We might describe it in short as the shift in focus in philosophy from Scholastic and Aristotelian metaphysics to epistemological rationalism, from Descartes, to Locke, to Kant.

            Why is the turn disastrous? Again, covered very well by Taylor. Practically, impacts include an emphasis on disengagement, dualistic thinking, and individual atomism which pervade everything from art, to ethics, to culture. Theoretically, this turn results in some of the biggest unresolved controversies in philosophy to this day (idealism vs. materialism, rationalism vs. empiricism, deontology vs. utilitarianism, etc.), and as Husserl, Heidegger, and others have seen, is finally turning on itself, failing to provide adequate ground for philosophy.

          • primenumbers

            Somehow I fail to see the disastrous problem.... On the other hand I do see the dangers of the promotion of faith and the ignorance of cognitive biases, not just in the realm of religion, but in medical areas like anti-vaxxers and homeopathic remedies, through to education with evolution deniers and YECs.

          • Right, but we've bounced away from the epistemological question, embedded in history. And again, this doesn't quite describe the Church's stance on faith, which always comes back to Fides et Ratio and a model of mutual illumination.

            But I really do recommend Taylor's essay if you're interested in the history of epistemology. (I've been meaning to read his best-known work "Sources of the Self.") "Metaphysical naturalism" wasn't simply plucked out of Platonic heaven one day - it has an organic history, and that history is inextricably linked with the epistemological turn. And to get back to the original point, key passages in the Summa about univocity/analogy and God's existence/essence are I.2 and I.13.5. You can have the last word, if you want it. Peace Prime!

          • primenumbers

            " And again, this doesn't quite describe the Church's stance on faith" - actually the stance is irrelevant. What is actually used by believers in practise is what is relevant, and in that aspect I think you'll find myself correct. What is described as the Church's stance on faith doesn't given enough reason to believe either, so believing on such a basis would be irrational and hence against the Church's stance.

          • "I suppose what we're really discussing, at root, is whether what is material is all we can know - an assumption that Aquinas and Aristotle certainly didn't share."

            >> "What is material is all we can know" is a demonstrably false assertion.

            Everything material begins to exist.

            Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

            Therefore, the cause of everything that is material cannot be material, since it cannot have begun to exist.

            This is completely certain as a matter of logic, and it is fully evidenced by scientific observation.

          • primenumbers

            We can follow through on "cause" too:

            Premise 1 (P1): Whatever begins to exist1 has a cause1.
            Premise 2 (P2): The universe began to exist2.
            Conclusion(C): Therefore, the universe has a cause2.
            ...miss a few steps....
            Theist's Conclusion: Therefore God exists3 (and caused3 the universe).

            Cause1 is a physical cause of the kind that occurs at a human level of observation, in time and space.

            Cause 2 doesn't occur in time and space and we know not anything else about it.

            Cause 3 is a proposed supernatural cause that occurs in neither space nor time answer to what cause 2 is, that we know nothing about, other than it's supposedly able to produce real physical things.

            Again just like above we have an argument from analogy to go from the human level causes1 we're aware of to a completely unknown type of cause2 for the universe (which is not even remotely analogous to it's contents that cause1 refers to).

            Although we cannot in actuality say anything about this cause2 because it's outside our knowledge, the theist assigns it to be type cause 3. Type Cause 3 is only defined in the negative in that it's not a cause of type 1.

          • "exists1 is a physical existence within time and space"

            This is simply not true (at least not for the classical proponents of this argument.) Existence is a metaphysical quality--an attribute of being--not dependent on space or time. I'd suggest Thomas Aquinas' short treatise, On Being and Essence (De Ente et Essentia) which explains in depth why this is true.

            primenumbers, if I may, I again extend an open invitation for your to author a full-length refutation of *any* of the cosmological arguments--just pick the *strongest* refutation to the *worst* cosmological argument (both assessments, of course, in your own opinion.) I'd be glad to post the article at Strange Notions and engage it more formally. Please send it to contact@strangenotions.com.

            To be clear, I've extended this invitation several times, and you've continued to ignore it. If you think there are obvious, irrefutable problems with the cosmological arguments then providing a full-length piece would be a simple and effective way to point them out. It would not only give you a fuller and much more powerful platform to make your case than in the comment boxes, but it would help more people correct their mistaken understanding of these arguments.

          • primenumbers

            Don't point me at a book - explain exactly why the "exists" in "P1: whatever begins to exist has a cause." is not referring to a physical existence in time and space. The whole point of the KCA is to argue by analogy by the existing (in time and space) things we know about - you, me, that chair I'm sitting on to (through intuition as the article points out) to tell us something about what we wish to know about - the universe. If the KCA is in P1 is not talking about existence in time and space, then it's not talking about anything with which we can even begin to come to an intuitive agreement about, never mind be a solid premise to build an argument on.

          • Rationalist1

            Not to pint you to a video, but Prime, have you seen this video refutation on the Kalaam Cosmological Argument *=( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dac4LkG2i8A ) from Counter Apologist?

          • Thanks, R1, excellent video!

          • primenumbers

            When we say "whatever begins to exist", that "exists" is temporal because of the word "begins" which makes no sense without time. Something that begins to exist exists in time.

            Are you going to defend your view of "exists" here in discussion or just punt to Aquinas?

          • One of Spinoza's complaints about the traditional theistic conception of God is that they end up equating God with ignorance. When we run into something we can't explain otherwise, we say "God".

          • VelikaBuna
          • robtish

            VeilikaBuna, do you realize that in responding Paul Rimmer by linking to the Shroud website, you've actually given him evidence for what he's saying?

          • I don't know how to explain this.

      • epeeist

        The "whatever" in P1 is overly broad.

        It isn't just overly broad, it claims to have universal quantification. Now since we only infer causality from experience and our experience is particular then the claim to universality is dubious.

        • primenumbers

          So P1 claims to tell us about all things via "whatever" being totally broad. It's a rather interesting knowledge claim.

          It states that if a member of "whatever" begins to exist it has a cause, yet it fails to tell us the rules of causality for things that don't begin to exist. It wants us to make the inference that whatever doesn't begin to exist has no cause, but it doesn't demonstrate that, or prove that, but gets us to take that on assumption with no evidence provided. In other words it's partial statement of some rule of causality that neglects to mention the causal outcomes for the other members of the "whatever" set.

          We can simply state that whatever doesn't begin to exist doesn't exist.

    • "The Kalam argument is valid and may be sound, but doesn't argue for God."

      But it demonstrates an eternal, immaterial, powerful, intelligent creator of the cosmos. That's a pretty big slice of God. What else would you call it?

      Now, Catholics agree with you that this particular argument doesn't prove *everything* about God. Trent didn't claim that in his article, nor has anyone else on this site. Therefore critiquing the argument for failing to prove all of God's attributes is to commit the straw man fallacy--it would be to critique (and dismiss) an argument for not proving what it never attempts to prove.

      "The universe probably did have a cause. Is the cause gravity (Stephen Hawking)? Is it a pre-universe with a reversed time-arrow (Sean Carroll)? Is it nothing (Lawrence Krauss)? Is it some quantum tunnelling event (Alexander Vilenkin)? Is it the universe itself (Spinoza)?"

      Responding quickly to each of your proposals, the gravity (Hawking) and quantum-tunneling (Vilenkin) hypotheses are problematic because they simply pass the buck--they beg the question, what caused gravity or quantum-tunneling? They presuppose something existing and then posit *that* thing as the cause of the universe. But the presupposed cause demands explanation.

      The "something-from-nothing" theory (Krauss) is illogical and has no scientific basis (and certainly no empirical evidence). There's no reason to think that something can naturally sprout from nothing. This is, in fact, the point of Trent's article. The atheist must *either* reject the "something-from-nothing" hypothesis *or* stop demanding supernatural evidence for God taking the form of something (i.e. an arm) emerging from nothing without natural explanation.

      Finally, the "self-caused" theory (Spinoza) is similarly bankrupt because nothing can cause it's own existence. To cause something, a cause first has to exist. Therefore if something *doesn't* exist (i.e. the universe), it can't then bring itself into being. This is a circular argument and thus fallacious.

      • But it demonstrates an eternal, immaterial, powerful, intelligent creator of the cosmos. That's a pretty big slice of God. What else would you call it?

        The argument as it is doesn't get that far, though. How would you extend the argument to capture "Eternal, Immaterial, Powerful, Intelligent", none of which were used in the Kalam argument as presented above?

        If you just get "intelligent", that will be good enough for me. Then I would accept the Kalam argument as an argument for God.

        The Kalam argument as presented here demonstrates a cause for the universe. Nothing more.

        Responding quickly to each of your proposals...

        I'd like to go in depth into each of these responses you've just raised here. I'm here to learn. But I think it will be more useful if we go in detail into each of these proposals you offer. I don't really understand Hawking's explanation, so how about we ignore that for now? Would you like to discuss Vilenkin, Krauss or Spinoza first? Thank you in advance for your time and willingness to critically examine these alternatives.

        • "The argument as it is doesn't get that far, though. How would you extend the argument to capture "Eternal, Immaterial, Powerful, Intelligent", none of which were used in the Kalam argument as presented above?

          If you just get "intelligent", that will be good enough for me. Then I would accept the Kalam argument as an argument for God."

          Paul, thanks for the irenic reply. The attributes I mentioned are logical deductions from the argument's conclusion. Since the argument shows a cause of the universe, and thus of all space and time, the cause would necessarily be immaterial (no matter) and eternal (outside of time.) It would also be powerful, for to create the entire cosmos from nothing would be the greatest act of power we can conceive. Finally, it would be supremely intelligent for it would be the source of all intelligent life and the incredible complexity within our universe.

          These deductions are nothing new, nor are they specifically religious. Even the ancient pagan philosophers like Aristotle were able to deduce these attributes strictly from the cosmological argument.

          • Ben

            I take Paul's reply seriously, and agree with it. While the results of your deductions may be possible, I hardly find them convincing, particularly the "intelligence" prong. Although our intuition (there it is again!) may lead us to feel like the cause of a universe with intelligent life must itself be intelligent, we already know that through evolution we can get complexity and intelligence starting from much simpler forms of life. So you can't judge the "intelligence" (or even sentience) of the "cause" based on the intelligence ultimately contained within the universe.

            When thinking on this and other supposed attributes of the cause, keep in mind that rather than bringing about the universe as we see it today, the purported first cause just had to bring about one of the other simpler states described above as a potential cause of the universe. Then for all we know that first cause could have disappeared or died and the universe took care of itself from that point on...

          • VelikaBuna

            Evolution is not a science. It is atheist delusion.

          • epeeist

            Evolution is not a science. It is atheist delusion.

            You really are fond of your unwarranted assertions aren't you.

            Isn't there a bridge that is feeling lonely without you?

          • VelikaBuna

            Prove it.

          • Isaac Clarke

            Isn't there a village which you are now depriving of it's idiot?

            I always liked that riposte.

          • It seems that the best reason to think the first cause of the universe is intelligent is the design argument.

            If the design argument is invalid or unsound, then it fails to establish an intelligent first cause of the universe, and the Kalam argument only establishes that the universe had a cause.

            If the design argument is valid and sound, then it establishes an intelligent first cause of the universe, and the Kalam argument is superfluous.

            Either way, the Kalam argument does very little for you.

          • primenumbers

            "Since the argument shows a cause of the universe, and thus of all space and time, the cause would necessarily be immaterial (no matter) and eternal (outside of time.)"

            On the other hand, the causes in P1 are temporal and spatial. We know nothing of atemporal and aspacial causes so to suggest that the cause of the universe must be atemporal and aspatial is based on our ignorance. Indeed, we have no idea of causality beyond our temporal and spatial causality we're aware of, so to speculate beyond that knowledge is to go beyond where evidence takes us.

            Similarly the causes of P1 are physical in nature. We have no evidence of supernatural causes or if they can create matter, or how they do it, or what rules of causality apply in this case. Again, we have ignorance.

            Similarly the causes of P1 are temporal in nature. We have no evidence of atemporal causes, how they'd work or if such a thing a an atemporal cause even makes sense. Again, we have ignorance.

            " It would also be powerful, for to create the entire cosmos from nothing would be the greatest act of power we can conceive." - infinitely powerful actually. To create something from nothing must be infinite in power. We are told that KCA is to address the problem of infinite regression, so it's only logical that what is able to stop an infinite regression be of infinite power. But we're told an actual infinite is impossible in the case of regression, so we can also assert it's impossible in terms of power, the infinite power needed to make something from nothing is therefore unobtainable and hence the argument fails.

      • epeeist

        "The Kalam argument is valid and may be sound, but doesn't argue for God."

        But it demonstrates an eternal, immaterial, powerful, intelligent
        creator of the cosmos. That's a pretty big slice of God. What else would you call it?

        It demonstrates nothing of the sort, apart from perhaps a lack of imagination on the part of the theist. It is just a god of the gaps argument.

        Responding quickly to each of your proposals, the gravity (Hawking) and quantum-tunneling (Vilenkin) hypotheses are problematic because they simply pass the buck--they beg the question, what caused gravity or quantum-tunneling?

        Ah, you think they examples of special pleading. Having something that has existed eternally without the need for a cause...

        • VelikaBuna

          Hahaha all that effort flushed down the toilet with the wave of a hand, and few incredulous remarks. Go for it again Brandon. Try again and have it flushed down the toilet.

        • thursday

          I would agree that the Kalam argument doesn't get you to God what it does get you to is the question what was the cause. The scientist it seems to me says anything, anything but God. The theist says God. You say the theist lacks imagination. Really? How is gravity more imaginative? I mean if you reject the reality of God then the God created by theist in all his complexity and depth shows a great deal of imagination don't you think. The Kalam argument it seems gets you to place where it is logical to infer a cause.

          • josh

            "You say the theist lacks imagination. Really? How is gravity more
            imaginative? I mean if you reject the reality of God then the God
            created by theist in all his complexity and depth shows a great deal of
            imagination don't you think."

            Yes really. Gravity took tremendous imagination, it's hard to imagine how extreme Newton's suggestion was at the time, that action could occur at a distance and that the celestial bodies obeyed the same predictable laws as everything on earth (earlier views had been weakened by Galileo and contemporaries). But God has been from the beginning and remains a truly parochial concept. God starts as an animating spirit which is unimaginitively like how humans imagine themselves. He acquires the entirely human concepts of majesty and authority and power (and gender), on the model of a human despot. He judges things and talks to deputies, he loves and hates. He forms things through an act of will, like a potter or carpenter. This is the least imaginative creation narrative a primitive human could come up with.

          • Latitude89

            Imagination? But doesn't imagination mean creativity, which involves both active will and creation, and which requires causality?

            By any means, it's certainly interesting that where you see an unimaginative creation, we see an infinitely imaginative Creator.

          • thursday

            What God are you talking about?

          • epeeist

            I would agree that the Kalam argument doesn't get you to God what it does get you to is the question what was the cause.

            Only if the argument is sound. And there are good reasons to doubt that it is.

            The scientist it seems to me says anything, anything but God.

            The scientist tends to follow the teaching of Adelard of Bath (even if she hasn't heard of him), namely that one should search for natural causes for natural events.

            Really? How is gravity more imaginative?

            Who said anything about gravity? Look back through this thread and you will see posters describing speculations by Krauss, Vilenkin and Carroll, all of them different. Read the wider literature and you will find other speculations by Guth, Penrose and Turok amongst others. Whereas the theists simply want to define it to be god that did it. That is why I said that the position lacked imagination.

  • Vicq_Ruiz

    since atheists already implicitly accept P1, then they should accept the
    conclusion of the argument and seek out the transcendent cause of the
    universe

    Trent,

    If the cause of the universe is a (force, entity, idea, feeling) that eternally remains outside the universe, then discussion of the nature of that cause is purely speculative, a challenging intellectual exercise but no more than that.

    If the cause of the universe is a (force, entity, idea, feeling) that occasionally interacts with the universe, then discussion of the nature of that cause is purely speculative except as it deals with the nature and circumstances of that interaction.

    So I can readily accept your P1, P2, and the conclusion. But I have no basis upon which to "seek out" this cause because I have no evidence of interaction to establish it as "seek-out-able".

  • VelikaBuna

    Seems like all the arguments here are repeated ad nauseam. It is more like the battle of wills, endless repetition of the same arguments, seems like some kind of attrition battle. The argument of quantity rather than substance. It is obvious that no hardened atheist will ever change his/her opinion because of any proposed argument or logic, as long as they are not compelled by force from God. So as long as one is allowed to claim anything and not feel the consequences of the error, one does not see the need for changing opinion. One can mock God, and nothing seemingly happens, therefore one concludes there is no God.

    • primenumbers

      We can mock God, mock God's believers, and we can test God, yet still nothing happens. It's almost as if God isn't actually there....

      • VelikaBuna

        Exactly. Or He does not react the way atheist foresee.

        • primenumbers

          No evidence of reaction at all actually...

      • I don't see how I could mock something I don't think exists. I could mock the idea that such does exist, but I try not to do that out of a desire to be polite; factual evidence does the rest.

    • "One can mock God, and nothing seemingly happens, therefore one concludes there is no God."

      Please help me: are you being sarcastic or is this a legitimate, critical argument against God's existence?

      • VelikaBuna

        I am describing atheist mindset. I believe no evidence or argument but only force can change ones opinion in most cases. When ones opinion is changed by brute force that person is lost, because then it is too late.

        • I'm not sure many of my atheist friends, including the commenters here, would lean on that argument. Let's not generalize the beliefs of large groups of people.

          • Andre Boillot

            "Let's not generalize the beliefs of large groups of people."

            That's reserved for the authors of the OPs.

    • I think it is actually considerably more difficult for atheists who believe in science and the scientific method to change the minds of theists who believe in divine revelation. For those who believe in God, and believe that God speaks to them, there is no argument in the world powerful enough to get them to change their minds.

      And yet, interestingly, It seems much more common for people who believe in God and adhere to some religion to drift away and lose their faith than it is for atheists to drift into belief or be convinced by logical argument.

      • Rationalist1

        This rather interesting graph demonstrates that for the UK.

        http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Religion-WFlow-2.jpg

        • VelikaBuna

          Yes, gloat about it. Atheists are about to give us heaven on earth second attempt. First was communist heaven, we all know that did not turn out as planned.

          • Isaac Clarke

            Despite your repeated assertions, atheism is neither a belief system or an ideology.

            (let me guess, your reply will just be..."prove it")

          • VelikaBuna

            It is either a fact or a belief. I do not see anything factual about it.

          • Isaac Clarke

            Errr what?

            You keep asserting atheism is a belief system. You also equated atheists with a "communist heaven.

            You've yet to demonstrate why it is a belief system, rather than simply the lack of belief in the deities asserted so far in history.

            Communism was an ideology that included atheism, but all atheists are not communists. Just as all faithful catholics are theists, buy only a small minority of theists are faithful catholics.

          • Ben

            Well, I'm not sure why you equate communism in particular with atheism. Communism was atheist but also had a lot of ill-founded beliefs about economic organisation.

            If we take atheism to mean 'evidence-based belief', which is a more reasonable equivalence than atheism = communisim, then atheism has eradicated smallpox and rinderpest and has almost eliminated polio and yaws and Dracunculiasis. The main barrier to eliminating polio is Islam.

            How many diseases has Catholicism eliminated?

            All I ask is that you judge atheism by its fruits.

          • WhiteRock

            "How many diseases has Catholicism eliminated?"

            While I know you're attempting to respond, in part, to VelikaBuna, this is a very poor question. The more comprehensive question would be "has Catholicism contributed to the elimination of any disease?" (because "atheism" hasn't directly caused elimination/combat of - but it has contributed in various ways) and the answer would be a very obvious "yes", unless one is ignorant, willfully or otherwise, to it's medical/scientific contributions.

          • Velika, some practice religion and communism. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_communism

            Communism and atheism are not necessarily correlated. I have met a fair number of atheists, and yet not one was a communist.

      • VelikaBuna

        Another fallacious argument. What has science (study of nature) have to do with atheist philosophy of incredulity? Science can be practiced by anyone, the results should be the same for all. Atheism and science don't need to be lumped in the same group.

        • Another fallacious argument.

          I wouldn't say it was an argument at all. It was a personal observation. Science itself (although not necessarily scientists, or those who use science to argue an atheist point of view) has a built-in skepticism and even a kind of modesty. Scientific theories are always in some sense provisional. It is religion that claims to know eternal, unchangeable, absolute, timeless truth. I don't know what religion you belong to, but certainly Catholicism claims infallible knowledge in certain areas. A faithful Catholic will take any intellectual tack to avoid being argued out of assenting to an infallible truth. There is no arguing with people who believe in God and believe they know what "God says." In fairness, not all religious people believe they personally are infallible or have absolute truth. But when someone says something like the following (which has been said to me), there is no changing their minds: "But I'm not telling you what I say. I'm telling you what God says!"

          • VelikaBuna

            Atheism and science do not go hand in hand was my statement. Atheism is a belief system which influences the explanation of the certain scientific data, in order to create a big picture, and this picture is complete construct of belief system and distortion of science.

            Atheism as a belief system is not constrained by the bounds of science but overreaches into metaphysical domain and constructs for itself a world without God.

          • Atheism is the lack of a belief system re the supernatural. It makes no metaphysical assertions, it simply does not accept them without justification.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            I don't think you understand atheism. And I'm really sure you don't understand how science works.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            > "A faithful Catholic will take any intellectual tack to avoid being argued out of assenting to an infallible truth."

            Not "any intellectual tack." Come on.

          • Rationalist1

            Technically there are (to my count) only two infallible teachings, both Marian related, the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. One can't argue against either of those excepts they are just assertions without evidence.

          • There are many other infallible dogmas of the Faith.

            Most of them are infallible under the ordinary magisterium, but there have been many definitions of the extraordinary magisterium in addition to the two mentioned.

          • Kevin Aldrich
          • severalspeciesof

            "Through sin our First Parents lost sanctifying grace and provoked the anger and the indignation of God."

            How does an all powerful, all knowing being suffer from indignation?

            Glen

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Why don't we attend to the topic of the article? I don't really feel like playing 238 questions.

          • severalspeciesof

            It's the nature of the beast, except it's 362 questions short... ;-)

          • Rationalist1

            I noticed they didn't include "extra ecclesiam nulla salus".

          • Technically there are (to my count) only two infallible teachings, both Marian related, the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.

            Those are the two papal pronouncements that are universally agreed (by people who believe in papal infallibility) to be infallible. Some argue that other papal teachings (e.g., Humanae Vitae) are infallible, but there is no airtight case. But doctrine defined at Church councils is considered to be infallible as well. So there are many Catholic teachings that are considered infallible.

          • Not "any intellectual tack." Come on.

            Apologies for putting it so clumsily. But a faithful Catholic, as I understand it, no matter how convincing he or she finds a refutation of an infallible truth, is obliged to dismiss the argument hat he or she finds convincing and continue to give assent to the infallible truth.

            Am I wrong?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            If a faithful Catholic ever heard a convincing refutation of an infallible truth that person would be in the middle of a crisis of faith.

            I've never heard such a refutation in my life.

          • Why do you think all of us ex-Catholics are ex-Catholics?

          • Loss of Faith, of course :-)

          • Sample1

            Are you invoking the fallacy of personal incredulity?

            Mike

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Nope. I have never heard on in the normal way.

          • If a faithful Catholic ever heard a convincing refutation of an infallible truth that person would be in the middle of a crisis of faith.

            But people leave the Church all the time. Some drift away without specifically denying any infallible truths, but others convert to other religions. Many Catholics have become Episcopalians. And there was, of course, Martin Luther, who became a Lutheran. And of course a great many Catholics don't know (and don't particularly care) which truths are infallible and which are not. And significant number of Catholics in surveys, even those who attend Church weekly, don't believe the most basic doctrines, such as the Real Presence.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Science can only be practised by methodological atheists. Period.

      • Kevin Aldrich

        People drift away from faith by not thinking about it and by the moral conduct of their lives (immorality or lukewarmness).

        • Rationalist1

          Exact opposite in my case.

        • People drift away from The Faith ("faith" is a bit of bomfoggery apart from its True object) because it is not proclaimed clearly, defended resolutely, and expressed in worship which is completely consistent with its integrity.

          There is an exception, of course:

          People drift away from The Faith when faced with persecution.

          But the latter case, paradoxically, is always the case which results in the greatest triumphs of The Faith.

          As Hillaire Belloc presciently understood, with respect to the present crisis of The Faith:

          "When persecution comes, then it will be morning."

          It is morning.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          People also drift away from faith when they come to recognize the innumerable internal inconsistencies and incoherencies of religion.

    • BenS

      It is obvious that no hardened atheist will ever change his/her opinion because of any proposed argument or logic,

      Evidence might work...

      • VelikaBuna

        You are funny and so wrong.

        • BenS

          Prove it.

          • VelikaBuna

            No you prove it. I know how to play this game.

            http://www.shroud.com/

          • Kevin Aldrich

            VB, I think it's not that constructive to post an entire website with multiple articles.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            And how does that constitute evidence? I could offer the Vedas, the Qu'ran, the Tao te Ching as evidence for utterly different deities. They can't all be correct, but they all offer the same kinds of evidence.

  • Critics counter that our intuitions can be mistaken (such as the intuition that the sun revolves around the earth)

    Intuition? Mistaken?

    It is a divinely revealed truth that the sun—indeed, the entire cosmos—revolves around the earth.

  • Vickie

    Except for they wouldn't. They would only come up with new arguments. The trouble with the logical argument system is that you only have to present an argument that is logically supportable. Facts are true but they are not necessarily the truth nor lead to the truth. Evidence is only as reliable as the information we have at the time or the information we are willing to accept. This is the flaw that we are up against.

    • clod

      Yes, a logical argument can be internally consistent and lead to a conclusion that is false. Also, where vested interest is involved, there can be a tendency to be in denial about evidence. This is true for everyone I think, including scientists, atheists as well as religious.

      • Vickie

        You are right. I should have used the word we or anyone. I only chose the word they because the article was written in the context of proving something to "them", the atheist. I did not mean to imply that "they" are the only ones.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      This goes both ways, no? The only antidote is to love the truth first of all and to seek it as best you can.

      • Rationalist1

        But not also to make up one's mind a-priori as to what the truth is. To me it's much more important to search opening for the truth than to state the truth and then try to justify it. I did the latter for years, but try not to now.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          I agree. I began my teen years an atheist who rejected Christianity and especially Catholicism on an a-priori basis and slowly made my way to the Catholic faith during my search.

          • Rationalist1

            It's very good you remain open about it.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Yes, but at some point you have to take as stand. The purpose of an open mind is to close it upon truth.

          • Rationalist1

            Often you make a stand, but not if the evidence doesn't justify it. For instance, life on other planets. One can, and should remain, neutral on the truth of that statement, but one can still discuss whether it more or less likely.

          • It is highly unlikely.

            Fermi's paradox applies.

            We know there are literally billions of perfectly suitable planets for life even in our own galaxy.

            Under Big Bang assumptions, some of these planets are billions of years older than Earth.

            Where is everybody?

            The good real estate should have been staked out aeons ago.

            The Copernican Principle is false.

            This means our entire world view is false, because our entire world view is erected upon the irreducible assumption of the Copernican Principle.

            Big change coming.....

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Space travel is time-consuming.

          • We could be at Alpha Centauri in 400 years.

            "A precursor space mission, carrying a 1 kg (2.2 lb) payload on a 10x10-meter sail would take 20 hours to accelerate. In three weeks, it would pass the orbit of Pluto and continue outward to the Oort cloud of comets surrounding the solar system. Reaching a star would take 400 years."

            http://io9.com/5952827/how-will-humans-get-to-alpha-centauri

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Like I said, time consuming.

          • Not really.

            Four hundred years to Alpha Centauri, in the context of a 14 billion year alleged age of the cosmos, is an eye blink.

            If we can do it now, then, under the Copernican Principle, civilizations have been able to do it for billions of years.

            So Fermi's paradox continues to bite, more deeply all the time:

            If we really *are* nothing special, then where is everybody?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think a deductive theistic argument can be made for life, even rational life, on other planets. Bach wrote a prelude and fugue in the key of C. But that wasn't enough. He went on to write 24 of them, one for every key. Then he did the same thing again.

            A diatom is an amazing and beautiful microscopic critter. I think there are something like 100,000 species of them. I see that as an example of God's incredible creativity exercised through secondary causes on this planet.

            So why not all kinds of life elsewhere in the U?

          • Rationalist1

            I agree with the possibility life elsewhere in the universe but would need direct evidence for it before assenting to it.

            I love Bach's Well Tempered Clavier and have a 14 year old that is working his way through them.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            That's a treasure.

          • Interesting fact about WTC:

            Bach's system of well-tempering is mathematically consistent with Kepler's derivation of the ratio of ellipticity in planetary orbits.

            "Harmonia Mundi" indeed......

          • BenS

            What religion were your parents?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Catholics, which confirms your theory.

          • BenS

            Hypothesis, so far, but thank you. :)

          • Sorry to demolish your hypothesis.

            My parents, and theirs, and theirs, and theirs, and theirs....back about 400 years, were not Catholics.

            They were Protestants, and mostly of the Calvinist persuasion, with the predictable fissiparation of the Protestant principle confirmed by their eventual branching off into Congregationalism.

  • Rationalist1

    For those who support the Cosmological argument, what evidence would be required to get you to change your mind about it's validity? Is it an argument that no amount of evidence could get you to abandon?

    • Kevin Aldrich

      There are many cosmological arguments. I would change my mind in regard to any one of them if I were show that either the premises or the chain of reasoning were false.

      • Rationalist1

        Can you give a specific example of how you might not accept this cosmological presented above?

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Sure. For example, P2 of the Kalam argument is hard to establish. If the evidence used to establish P2 of the Kalam is cosmological evidence, then we come up against the initial nanoseconds of the Big Bang which are obscure and the various alternative theories to the standard model which might seem to remove a beginning.

          • Rationalist1

            Fair enough, that's good. Time (and space) can break down at that point.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            And indeed time and space DO break down at less than planck length/time. That's part of the issue; the concept of the universe 'beginning' is logically incoherent, given current quantum theory: there is no point in time at which the universe did not exist. Generally people who talk about the universe 'coming into being' from nothingness are not grappling with the implications of the math.

          • To the contrary.

            Any universe which is expanding on average, cannot be mathematically described as past-eternal.

            It is necessary apparently to reiterate this over and over again, so........

            http://arxiv.org/abs/1204.4658

            Excerpt:

            "Both eternal inflation and cyclic universe scenarios have Hav > 0, which means that they must be past-geodesically incomplete. We have also examined a simple emergent universe model, and concluded that it cannot escape quantum collapse. Even considering more general emergent universe models, there do not seem to be any matter sources that admit solutions that are immune to collapse."

            P2 of KCA stands.

            As a matter of metaphysics, as a matter of science.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I can't understand the math in the very brief paper you cited but I can get the gist of it.

            I've very surprised at the SILENCE of the atheists in regard to it. Why aren't they jumping all over it showing how fallacious it is and how it doesn't apply to the Kalam argument?

            There are only two premises. So far I've heard no one dispute the first and this one supports the second. And I think the conclusion follows.

          • I learned something very interesting over the past couple of years.

            The very best scientists are infinitely more fair minded than the New Atheist attack brigade.

            Vilenkin is an example.

            He is an atheist, would doubtless *love* to be able to find a singularity-free solution.

            But he is also a scientist, and he reports that neither he, nor Hawking, nor Guth, nor anyone else, has been able to do so.

            Tegmark- an atheist- found the CMB Axis.

            He was told a thousand times that it had to be a mistake, and his worldview would certainly have been less-challenged had it turned out to be a mistake, but he is also a scientist.

            It wan't a mistake.

            I have a great deal of confidence that science will, ultimately, correct itself.

            We happen to live at one of those extraordinary moments when observational science is in the process of toppling a beautiful, truly beautiful and persuasive model.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Mea culpa. Disqus was hiding all the discussion from me!

          • Michael Murray

            Bear in mind the footnote on page 5

            "2Note that we use the term “beginning” as being synonimous to past incompleteness. "

            Nothing is being claimed about causes. The whole thing is provisional anyway until we get a theory of quantum gravity.

  • Rationalist1

    Almost totally unrelated. Perhaps this cartoon is apropos to this website.

    http://www.newyorker.com/humor/issuecartoons/2013/07/29/cartoons_20130722#slide=4

  • We have hashed this out, already, on earlier threads and I see that others have gone into the problem of moving from a "cause" (however that is defined) to creation by an intentional agent, and then to the attributes of said agent. I will, however, just start with the "cause" part.

    As others have noted, P1 contains assumptions that have not been demonstrated to be necessarily true. The point I would like to highlight is that, even setting aside the fallacy of composition, if there is anything that MAY begin to exist without cause, then you can't use the idea that everything that begins to exist necessarily has a cause. That is why the quantum events for which we can't find a cause are defeaters for P1. The burden of proof in the logical argument is upon the shoulders of the person extrapolating to the general case. We who doubt do not have to show that quantum events are without cause, the supporters of P1 have to show that they are caused, which no one has been able to do.

    Here is a good reply to WLC by Prof. Peter Millican when they debated this issue. And, as I have posted on other threads, here you can hear Dr. Alexander Vilenkin refute the misuse of his work by WLC et al.

    I think we have beaten this dead horse quite enough.

    • "[I]f there is anything that MAY begin to exist without cause, then you can't use the idea that everything that begins to exist necessarily has a cause. That is why the quantum events for which we can't find a cause are defeaters for P1."

      Qu, thanks for the comment. I completely agree with your first sentence so long as "may" is taken to mean "proven to be possible". However, please explain to me how the second sentence is not an "atheism-of-the-gaps" sort of argument. You're describing quantum events about which even the greatest theoretical physicists admit we know very little about. The fact that we haven't yet observed a cause for these quantum interactions does not mean they definitively don't exist, especially when such causes do exist in every other instance. You're making a similar argument to the one Paley made about design: we haven't yet determined the cause, so it must not exist! This puts you in a precarious situation when quantum causes are eventually discovered.

      Unexplained quantum interactions in no way prove the existence of uncaused beings, nor do they defeat the first premise of the kalam argument.

      "I think we have beaten this dead horse quite enough."

      I don't think the horse is dead. I think many atheist commenters here have beaten a straw man horse to death, but certainly not the real thing. If you'd like to expand upon your attempted refutation of the cosmological argument in this comment (or elsewhere), I'd be happy to host another guest post from you. Please send it to contact@strangenotions.com.

      • Rationalist1

        But it's more that we haven't determined a cause for quantum events. There's lots of things in science that we don't know the cause for. But science has studied quantum events now for most of century and the rate that they occur is totally random. Now there may be a cause, although many have postulated, search for and not found one, but if there is a cause it's a random cause, which really isn't a cause at all.

      • Okay Brandon, I will try again. I am not asserting that there are uncaused events. If I were, you would be correct and I would have to prove it. I am asserting that there may be uncaused events. That stands on its own unless you can show that it is not true. To use P1 you have to preclude that there may even be uncaused events to get to use "all events are caused" as a forcing argument (much less "everything that begins to exist has a cause"). We simply don't know if causality is even a coherent concept below the macro level.

        Is that any clearer?

        • thursday

          No!!! Could someone please explain to me why the observations of interactions between and among and within systems in existence that are random or currently not understood somehow disproves the first premise of the Kalam argument?

          • Rationalist1

            P1 says "Whatever begins to exist has a cause". A gamma ray from an atom began to exist and its cause was random. There was no efficient cause of the gamma ray.

          • thursday

            All that tells me is that science doesn't know why the gamma ray comes from an atom, but it comes from the atom not from "nothing" the cause is something contained in the nature and function of the atom interacting with other matter ( and forces produced by that matter) . Look clearly I'm not a scientist it just seems illogical to assert that because science does not understand the process by which a gamma ray is produced from an atom that it is uncaused. This just all seems to suggest a gap in scientific understanding not a fallacy in P1.

          • ... a gamma ray is produced from an atom that it is uncaused.

            No, that it may be uncaused.

          • thursday

            So given this when the scientist asserts that there "may" be uncaused events they are on the same footing in terms of proof as when the theist asserts that there may be a God.

          • So given this when the scientist asserts that there "may" be uncaused events they are on the same footing in terms of proof as when the theist asserts that there may be a God.

            Yes, you got that right! Both are in the unfalsifiable category. Of course, when you start attaching attributes to a deity or deities you may run afoul of known facts, and fall out of that category.

          • Rationalist1

            Except it's an unfair comparison. In Science technically all things are may. Evolution may be true, Atoms may exist and germs may cause some diseases. But those "mays" are as close to certainty as doesn't matter. Radioactive decay may be uncaused. It's not the certainty level of the previous three examples but it's getting close. At what point does what dismiss the 14th century metaphysical assertions as being equivalent to 21st century science? Afterall there may be a fossil of a rabbit in Precambrian rocks.

          • In Science technically all things are may.

            Not really. The statement, "The Earth may be flat" is not true. The statement, "The Moon may be made of green cheese" is not true. The statement, "The distance to the Sun may be less than a thousand Earth radii" is not true. I am sure you know I can keep this going ...

          • Rationalist1

            Bit those are facts that have made the transition from hypotheses to fact,just like Evolution, Atomic theory and the germ theory of disease have done. The randomness of quantum mechanics is very close to certainty as well. QED is accurate to 1 part in a trillion and it is dependent upon the random creation of virtual particles. It may be proven wrong but there's the same chance of that as Kate and William naming there new son Murray.

          • It may be proven wrong but there's the same chance of that as Kate and William naming there new son Murray.

            Well, now you would need reverse time travel for that. We are not in an argument within a field of science. If we were, we could dismiss objections based on low probability and/or Occam. When WLC is arguing Kalam, he pretends to science, but is really working on rhetoric. He would say that quantum events do have causes, we just have not found them, yet. That is one of those unfalsifiable statements you can't stop them from making. However, they are extrapolating cause down to the quantum level without factual justification. That, you have the power to logically stop, because they have quietly dropped "necessity" along the way, but want to pretend they still have it.

            I think it is important to be very careful about the logic involved. Even the perception of overreaching detracts from the trust of honest dialog. Yes, the scientific community has given up trying to fit the rules of our macro world onto what we see at the quantum level. We have come to see our ordinary causation to be a statistical emergence (like temperature) that has no direct referent when the scale is small enough. You are free to keep arguing for uncaused quantum events, but please consider taking the win you can most easily prove, even outside the scientific world.

          • epeeist

            We have come to see our ordinary causation to be a statistical emergence
            (like temperature) that has no direct referent when the scale is small
            enough.

            No, there is a difference here. Temperature is an epistemic problem, we simply do not have information about each and every atom in an ensemble. In principle we could gain such information.

            Probability in quantum processes is an ontological problem, if we make a measurement on one complementary variable we can have no knowledge of the other.

          • Well, Epeeist, you reference a deeper problem. Temperature was just a parenthetical example of a simple problem that is on the way there, but still significant. (Also, no one has, actually, been able to measure the kinetic energy of each atom, independently, in any (non cryogenic) sample big enough to see with the naked eye.)

          • "Bit those are facts that have made the transition from hypotheses to fact,just like Evolution"

            >> Completely false. No one has ever observed biodiversity arising from a single ancestor.

            We have observed the Earth to be a geoid (and knew it wasn't flat 2600 years before that, by direct experiment).

            We have directly observed the Moon to not be made of green cheese.

            We have never observed germ theory to be adequate to explain all pathologies.

            We have never observed the quantum events are "random" (in fact we have recently observed the contrary)- only that our description of them involves an *assumption* that they are random.

            Now all of these things are science; that is, people are constantly trying to experimentally falsify what we think we know, and any experimental falsification would result in an abandonment or revision of the theory.

            Evolution, on the other hand, is different.

            Evolution is not science, since evolution is determined *not* to subject its risky predictions to experimental test with the possibility of falsifying what we think we know.

            This- that evolution is not science- is absolutely one hundred per cent certain:

            http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2012/02/marys-bones-part-iii-is-evolution.html

          • thursday

            So there may be a God and there may be a God who seeks and enters into relationship with his creation and there may be a way to know this God. We can do a lot with "may".

          • Yes, those things may be true (for the right choices of definitions). Now, how would you go about showing that they are true?

          • thursday

            I assume that proponents of these "mays" would do the same thing as proponents of the "mays" of quantum physics. They would I assume gather information. They would observe and record. For example they might attempt to explain and make sense out of observed lives that have been radically changed by a professed encounter with such a God.

          • For example they might attempt to explain and make sense out of observed lives that have been radically changed by a professed encounter with such a God.

            And like quantum physicists, if they are honest, you would expect them to be on the lookout for the counter examples, such as the problems of evil and suffering.

          • thursday

            It seems to me, and I am familiar with the work of many learned theists, that they are not only honest and on the lookout for such counter examples but devote a great deal of their work to them.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Really? Can you give examples? I'm not familiar with any theists who devotes a great deal of their work to counter-examples against theism - not honestly.

          • thursday

            You are presupposing that evil and suffering are examples that necessarily negate theism. Probably the two most well known Catholic philosophers Aquinas and Augustine have a great deal to say on the problem of pain and suffering. The Catholic church does not seem to skirt this issue but rather immerses itself in the meaning of suffering and reality of evil. There are others like Lewis and Chesterton and many lesser known apologists who also deal with these "problems".

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            And where did I presuppose that?

          • thursday

            Maybe I misread your statement, "to counter- examples against theism". Does that presuppose that the problem of pain and suffering present examples that stand against theism?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Sure, they are counter-examples to a SPECIFIC theism, not theism in general. They are not counter-examples to a theism based on a malicious, incompetent god.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            But that's not what theists assert. Certainly that's not what Catholics assert. Catholics say, "there is a god" - completely neglecting the logical and semantic incoherence of that claim.

          • thursday

            The Catholics assertion that "there is a God" I think is an assertion from belief or faith. As I understand their position it is one based on reason but ultimately a matter of faith. This strikes me as very much the same as the scientists position only their belief or faith is placed in science and excludes God because science and its methods cannot account for him. God therefor must forever remain just a "may".

          • Rationalist1

            No. because there is evidence for these uncaused events. Radioactive decay has been measured repeatedly and it's totally random. Prove otherwise and you win a Nobel Prize. Essentially what would cause an atom to decay today. Nothing. It just has a statistical change of decaying.

          • R1, may be uncaused includes the case is uncaused.

          • Rationalist1

            Very true. My reply was meant for Thursday.

          • thursday

            It seems that there is a lot of evidence, even to the casual observer, that support P1. You seem to be able to supply only an observation of an event that comes from matter already in existence, it is an event that, so far, you are unable to predict but only know that sometimes it happens and you do not know why. This hardly seems to be a strong case for a lack of causation.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            The problem is similar to the problem of eliminating black swans.

            P1 is essentially asserting that all swans are white, and trying to use that assertion as a premise in a syllogism.

            All we have to do is find one black swan and it falls. It doesn't matter how many millions of white swans you can offer as examples.

          • thursday

            The problem is that we can disprove "all swans are white" by actually finding a black one. You cannot defeat the premise if all you can do is say well maybe there is a black one. From what I can gather here "uncaused" things that begin to exist have not been "found". Instead observations of events that come from matter already in existence have been made but are not yet understood nor are scientist able to predict when, why or how such an event results.

          • Michael Murray

            Events that we cannot prove are caused have been found. So the premise that all events are caused is not proved. End of story.

            Note that premise 2 is also false. There is a failure to demonstrate that the universe as a whole is the same type of event as those discussed in premise 1. They are all events included in the universe which the universe as a whole is not.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Exactly. Category error. All cats have four legs. The set of all cats does not have four legs.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            And what we have are a set of swans which appear to be black. Which renders the basic use of P1 unacceptable, if what you're trying to construct is a persuasive argument.

            After all:

            P1: Most things we know of that come into being have a cause.
            P2: The universe came into being.
            C1: Therefore the universe has a cause

            Doesn't sound quite so clean, does it?

          • Michael Murray

            Or even to find one swan which we cannot prove is white.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Correct.

          • Rationalist1

            "This hardly seems to be a strong case for a lack of causation." That may be so but it's the science behind how your computer works. Computer semiconductors work because of quantum mechanics, not because of deterministic classical mechanics.

          • Rationalist1

            And that the working assumption is science is that there is no cause that is responsible tor the decay to happen at that instant. The decay is random. Scientist like Einstein and Bohm have attempted to formulate hidden variable theories but all have been found lacking. All scientific evidence at this point points to a an event that occurs with a certain probability to occur in a specific tome interval.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Why isn't it's cause the atom or something interacting with the atom?

          • Michael Murray

            Why isn't it's cause the atom or something interacting with the atom?

            Because there is no measurable difference between an atom that doesn't emit a gamma ray in the next second and an atom that does.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            But it come from the atom, no? No atom, no gamma ray?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            That doesn't make the 'emittance' of the gamma ray causal. And causality is the problem here.

          • Michael Murray

            No atom no gamma ray. But equally well lots of atoms, the same as yours, and no gamma ray.

          • Rationalist1

            Because it's random. It has to do with the energy well formed in the nucleus and and the statistical probability of the decay happening in a specific time interval. In the same circumstance it could happen after 5 seconds or 5 years, all factors being the same.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            So it is self-caused?

          • So it is self-caused?

            There is no evidence that any cause is involved.

          • Rationalist1

            Not quite. From all evidence it appears to happen without any internal or external factors. It just has a statistical probability of happening in any given time period.

          • ... why the observations of interactions between and among and within systems in existence that are random or currently not understood somehow disproves the first premise of the Kalam argument?

            Because P1 makes an unwarranted assumption about "Whatever begins to exist." If you want to use that, you are first going to have to prove it. Remember, we don't have to disprove it, you have to prove it to use it. That means checking "Whatever" and that includes quantum particles that come to exist, but causality there has not been shown, so you can't use it in a general argument.

            Again, P1 is not disproved. But, the Kalam falls if P1 may be false. To get around that, you have to prove that P1 is true in all cases.

            Got proof?

          • thursday

            That is just ridiculous. First this is not a court room and second both the proponents and critics of Kalams argument are making assertions here. If A asserts that all things that begin. to exist have a cause and B asserts that that is not true then B now has the burden of proving that it is not always true. If B cannot do this then A's assertions stands. It may or may not be standing on shakier ground based on the inferences from the evidence presented by B. B's assertion that there are random (and therefor uncaused) things in existence must be proven to defeat the P1. If B cannot prove that these things that begin to exist are truly uncaused and not simply byproducts of processes they do not understand then they have not defeated P1 though they may have cast some doubt upon it.

          • If A asserts that all things that begin. to exist have a cause and B asserts that that is not true then B now has the burden of proving that it is not always true. If B cannot do this then A's assertions stands.

            Wait! If I present an argument with premises and a conclusion, and someone challenges my premises, the burden is on them to prove my premises false?

            Immaterial beings do not exist.
            God is an immaterial being.
            God does not exist.

            This is my proof of the non-existence of God, and the burden is on you to disprove one of my premises.

          • thursday

            "and someone challenges my premises,the burden is on them to prove my premises false?" No, but the challenger must supply convincing proof for their asssertions as well.

            While you do not know whether or not immaterial beings exist and cannot provide proof one way or the other the assertion that "all things that begin to exist have a cause" can be supported by tangeble proofs ie. examples of this being the case. Just because you assert that some things begin to exist "from" other matter but we do not know how or why does not prove a lack of causation.

          • No, but the challenger must supply convincing proof for their asssertions as well.

            The non acceptance of P1, for lack of proof, is not a positive assertion in itself. You believers are trying to establish the truth of your supernatural beliefs. We are not asserting anything about those (even that you are wrong), other than letting you know that you have not made your case, and how it is deficient.

          • To the contrary.

            The contrary position:

            "Not everything that begins to exist has a cause"

            Is the death knell for science as far as its ability to describe reality.

            As mentioned before, the atheist world view is profoundly anti-reason, anti-logic, and anti-science.

          • thursday

            That indeed seems to be the case.

          • thursday

            So you just put me in the camp of believers. You have no reason to think that is the case. I have not argued for or against either position. I am trying to understand each side of the argument. It seems to me that Kalams argument only states that things in existence have a cause and that leads to questions. The scientist says well maybe not everything that begins to exist has a cause but provides no proof, they offer instead the observation of an event that comes from matter already in existence that they do not understand and cannot predict. The believer cannot get to God from Kalams argument alone, they can only get to cause. Both the scientist and the believer can then argue about whether the cause is an eternal non caused God or force or matter or process or whatever. Here they all seem to be on equal footing.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            So you just put me in the camp of believers. You have no reason to think that is the case.

            Given that your comments to date have been supportive of the theists arguments, it was a reasonable assertion.

            I have not argued for or against either position. I am trying to understand each side of the argument.

            You seem to be under the impression that there are two competing arguments being made. This is false.

            It seems to me that Kalams argument only states that things in existence have a cause and that leads to questions.

            Be careful, this is NOT what Kaalam says.

            The scientist says well maybe not everything that begins to exist has a cause but provides no proof, they offer instead the observation of an event that comes from matter already in existence that they do not understand and cannot predict.

            The theist or Kaalamist is trying to derive a completely unarguable conclusion based on two premises. For the argument to be sound and true, both premises must be true, and the conclusion must follow. All the critic need do is point out that the premises, based on current science, are NOT necessarily true. Syllogism fails.

            The believer cannot get to God from Kalams argument alone, they can only get to cause.

            Old news.

            Both the scientist and the believer can then argue about whether the cause is an eternal non caused God or force or matter or process or whatever. Here they all seem to be on equal footing.

            No. The Kaalamist makes the assertion. The Kaalamist needs to show the argument is more than pretty logic.

          • thursday

            Two things. First there are two points of view being asserted here. One is that P1 stands and the other is that it falls. I have seen no evidence provided that causes P1 to fall. Most of my posts have been an attempt to understand the arguments being made by those asserting that Kalams proof fails because P1 is not true. It has not been shown that P1 is untrue. While this has not been shown the critic asserts that it "may" be untrue. Does that work with other assertions. If one says that evolution is true (and there is certainly evidence that supports it) does this assertion fail because the critic says " but it may be untrue because I heard another explanation called the creation story"

            Second, i am aware of what kalams says and does not say though the sentence that gave rise to that comment was poorly worded.I am also aware of what makes a sound argument. For the first premise to fail it must be shown to be not always true and that has not been done.

          • So you just put me in the camp of believers. You have no reason to think that is the case. I have not argued for or against either position.

            Okay, that is fine with me.

            The scientist says well maybe not everything that begins to exist has a cause but provides no proof, they offer instead the observation of an event that comes from matter already in existence that they do not understand and cannot predict.

            I assure you it is much more comprehensive than that. Particles appear and disappear where there is no matter. The physics "laws" we have come to think are absolute on our personal size scale, are seen to be violated in space and time intervals of sufficiently small scale. If you spend some time looking into the results of the quantum experiments over about the last fifty years, I think you would get a better feel for it.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            It seems most likely that our 'intuition' is a developed trait: observation establishes neural circuits that advance inductive arguments. What is intuitive is what we know; and what we know is FUNDAMENTALLY conditioned by the 'scale' of our perceptions. A quantum 'creature' would have a radically different intuition.

          • A quantum 'creature' would have a radically different intuition.

            Thanks, I will be sure to keep that in mind next time I go to create any. Perhaps that is what Sturgeon had in mind.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            That was very neat. Thanks. Is this Sturgeon of "Sturgeon's Law"?

          • Yep.

          • thursday

            I have read a great deal about quantum physics and find it absolutely fascinating. as I have stated my background is not in science so I do not feel adequately prepared to speak authoritatively about such things even though I have some exposure. I prefer to ask questions and see what they reveal. From my rudimentary understanding it seems that quantum mechanics presents as many challenges to scientific notions, maybe more, as it does to the theist,

          • From my rudimentary understanding it seems that quantum mechanics presents as many challenges to scientific notions, maybe more, as it does to the theist,

            That may be true. Fortunately for science, it has the dogma of no dogma, so learning something new from quantum is a good thing.

          • thursday

            I think the catholic,even with his dogma, would say that whatever is learned in quantum adds to the knowledge of God and is a good thing. I''m also not sure that science's dogma is no dogma but I will have to ponder that.

          • "all things that begin to exist have a cause" can be supported by tangeble proofs ie. examples of this being the case.

            A million (or a billion, or more) examples of things that exit that had a cause does not prove "all things that begin to exist have a cause."

          • That is true.

            "All things that begin to exist have a cause" is true on logical, not inductive, grounds.

            If something began to exist without a cause, then it would have to have existed both before, and after, it began to exist, since it is the cause of its own existence.

            This is a logical contradiction, and conclusive proof that nothing that begins to exist, begins to exist without a cause.

          • Michael Murray

            Just because you assert that some things begin to exist "from" other matter but we do not know how or why does not prove a lack of causation.

            Sure. But until we know that P1 fails.

          • thursday

            That simply is not logical and deserves no further reply.

          • Michael Murray

            Why is it not logical? P1 asserts that everything that begins to exist has a cause. I say "what about these things -- can anyone show they have a cause". You say "no they can't". Therefore P1 cannot be proven.

          • thursday

            You cannot say they have no cause just because you do not understand and therefore cannot explain the cause. The events come out of a process set in motion by things already in existence You may not be able to understand the process but it flows from matter already in existence. The gamma ray does not just pop into existence from nothing anymore than the chicken does. The gamma ray comes from the atom the chicken from the egg. We know the process for the chicken and the egg we do not know the process for the atom and the gamma ray. Also when you say "no they can't" you must add "but they "may"

          • Thursday, Michael is right for all the reasons I explained to you earlier today. Go back and read them again. P1 is not proven and cannot be validly used as a premise, so the central argument of the OP collapses. If you can prove P1, please show your work.

            Got proof?

          • Michael Murray

            The problem is that what we observe at the fundamental level of reality, i.e. quantum mechanics makes all of the above concepts extremely dubious. Process, set in motion, cause, already in existence, flow from matter, etc, etc. These are concepts built on intuition from the world we interacted with as we evolved to rational beings and began to think. Medium distances, energies and velocities. The world of elementary particles is different and that intuition does not apply.
            Atoms and gamma rays are fundamentally not chickens and eggs.

            The observational fact is that if you have an atom there is a probability that you will observe some time later an atom and a gamma ray and energy will be conserved so you can say the gamma ray came from the atom. But for an individual atom that might happen 5 seconds after you start observing or it might happen 5 centuries after you start observing. Nobody has found a way of explain the change from atom to atom + gamma ray in terms of a cause. Attempts to invent such "hidden-variable" theories run in to lots of problems.

          • The problem is that what we observe at the fundamental level of reality, i.e. quantum mechanics makes all of the above concepts extremely dubious.

            I think this hits the nail squarely on the head.

            It may seem like common sense to say "everything that begins to exist has a cause." (I still maintain that saying "begins to exist" is cheating—like holding an ace up your sleeve.) But those of us who have some knowledge of quantum mechanics know that on the quantum level, common sense no longer applies. It would be one thing if quantum theory had nothing to do with the "beginning" of the universe. If that were the case, it could be argued that quantum mechanics was very weird, but so what? But now it is believed that quantum mechanics has everything to do with the "beginning" of the universe. So the old arguments about causality really must take quantum mechanics into account.

          • thursday

            Do you find gamma rays in the absence of atoms? If not then it is clear that the gamma ray is produced by something in the atom. You don't know when that is going to happen, you don't know why that happens, you don't know if it is always going to happen. None of that defeats P1. None of that even casts doubt on P1. Gama ray has a cause you just dont know what it is. Do gama rays begin to exist? Yes. Do they have a cause? Yes. What is the cause? Some force or process, that you don't understand, at work in or around atoms. Your going to say prove it and I'm going to say there is no proof to the contrary and you are going to say there doesn't have to be and further if you can't find what causes the gamma ray to come from the atom there may be no cause. So if I can't find my glasses they may not exist? Or better if I can't figure out why smoke is coming from my engine then the smoke may be uncaused. This is all very silly and seems to not have any logic, or science for that matter, in it. I've followed all the arguments and clearly P1 stands.

          • Michael Murray

            You are trying to infer things about the world of elementary particles on the basis of common sense. It doesn't work like that. As you clearly don't know any quantum mechanics I can't say a lot else. I suggest you read a bit on the topic.

          • thursday

            Not common sense, logic. I have read a bit on the topic and apparently no one really "knows" much quantum mechanics" so it does not seem logical or scientific to use things observed, that no one can currently explain, as evidence to defeat a premise that is demonstratively true.

          • Michael Murray

            apparently no one really "knows" much quantum mechanics"

            No that is the complete misunderstanding. When physicists like Feynman say you can't understand quantum mechanics they mean it is non-intuitive. You can do the mathematics and the calculations and the theory is fine and astoundingly accurate. If you understand the mathematics and practice calculations enough some of the "weirdness" will go away and it will seem more intuitive.

            The issue is that our intuition is based on dealing with millions and billions of quantum particles at once and the quantum effects are washed out and matter behaves differently. In the same way relativistic effects like velocities not adding linearly are not apparent at the low velocities we experience in everyday life. It would be a damn side more convenient if our intuition did extend to all distances, velocities and energies but it doesn't. But the mathematics works fine.

            so it does not seem logical or scientific to use things observed, that no one can currently explain,

            We do understand them. You just don't believe the explanation. That's not physics problem.

            as evidence to defeat a premise that is demonstratively true.

            I'll say it again. The person asserting P1 has to be able to show it is true. Saying "all cows are black" if you have a bunch of black ones and a few you don't know the colour of is not a true statement.

            I'm at work so not likely to reply for awhile.

          • Susan

            Also when you say "no they can't" you must add "but they "may"

            But you cannot state that they must.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Not exactly. What fails is the assertion that P1 = true.

          • Michael Murray

            Yes good point. What fails is the assertion that P1 is true. Thanks. OK back to the day job ... !

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            No, but the challenger must supply convincing proof for their asssertions as well.

            Why? And why particularly in the case of non-testable theistic assertions?

          • thursday

            The assertion in P1 is not theistic.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            True. But the argument is used by theists. The point is, for the syllogism to be sound and true, P1 must be true. We don't know that it is, and we have some evidence that it is not.

          • Premise One is falsified as follows:

            1. Material things begin to exist.
            2. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
            3. Therefore, the cause of material things is immaterial.

          • 3. Therefore, the cause of material things is immaterial.

            Haven't you just "proved" that a billiard ball, the Empire State Building, a chicken, and a Toyota Highlander (to name just a few material things) had an immaterial cause?

          • Yup.

          • I thought the whole point of the argument was to draw on our "common sense," which tells us that a billiard ball, the Empire State Building, a chicken, and a Toyota Highlander all had causes—but material causes. And then going back, and back, and back to the beginning of it all and saying that the first thing that "began to exist" had to have a cause, and that cause had to be immaterial. If you're going to assert that God is the cause of the Empire State Building, then you might as well not have a syllogism. Just make a flat assertion. And if you're going to assert that God is the cause of the Empire State Building because you believe there is a long causal chain that goes back to the first thing that "began to exist," it seems to me you are ruling out free will.

            If the universe is deterministic, then a God who set the initial conditions would be, in a real sense, the cause of everything. But I can't believe you consider the universe to be deterministic. If it is, then God is responsible for sin.

          • "I thought the whole point of the argument was to draw on our "common sense," which tells us that a billiard ball, the Empire State Building, a chicken, and a Toyota Highlander all had causes—but material causes."

            >> Since all material causes begin to exist, we see that they all proceed from an immaterial cause.

            "And then going back, and back, and back to the beginning of it all and saying that the first thing that "began to exist" had to have a cause, and that cause had to be immaterial."

            >> It's bulletproof, in fact :-)

            "If the universe is deterministic, then a God who set the initial conditions would be, in a real sense, the cause of everything."

            >> Bingo.

            "But I can't believe you consider the universe to be deterministic. If it is, then God is responsible for sin."

            >> The universe involves free will, which renders sin a choice of actually free beings.

            It was foreseen and permitted by God, Who brings forth from its existence a greater good than would have been possible in the absence of freedom- and hence sin- in the first place.

          • BenS

            But you just proved immaterial things don't exist! Immaterial things that don't exist can't make chickens! That makes no sense!

            You atheists say some silly things.

          • You atheists say some silly things.

            My position is more one of averaged-out agnosticism—wavering from belief to unbelief in about equal measures. So I get to say all the silly things that both atheists and theists say. Also—and this is the part I like best—I get to disagree with everybody.

          • Rationalist1

            No A makes an unprovedn assertion, B states a situation where the assertion may not be true (current quantum theory). The onus is on A to prove that the assertion is valid.

          • Susan

            No. If A has constructed an entire "proof" based on the premise that everything that begins to exist has a cause, the burden is on A to show that it is the case.

            Or the argument doesn't work.

          • clod

            Which B&%^$£ has asserted that A is not true? I must have missed it. If one is asserting A, one must back that up.

          • josh

            B only has to show that P1 isn't known. B has done this.

          • If A asserts that all things that begin. to exist have a cause and B asserts that that is not true then B now has the burden of proving that it is not always true.

            The doubters, here, are not trying to get anyone to believe in something. That is what puts the burden on the believers. Again, we don't even assert that B is not always true, we are showing that B is not necessarily always true. It is the necessity that you depend on to make the forcing argument.

            If B cannot do this then A's assertions stands.

            No, that would be the fallacy of irrefutably. A does not get to assert truth just because B can't prove false. There are any number of assertions that are not falsifiable, but also not necessarily true. Russell's Teapot is the famous example.

            B's assertion that there are random (and therefor uncaused) things in existence must be proven to defeat the P1.

            As I have explained to you above, just that they may be uncaused is enough to defeat P1 as used in a forcing argument. This is just basic logic.

          • Not to derail or start a tangent, but just to make a point. I don't expect a response, but I will keep this in mind in the future.

            You say, "If you want to use that, you are first going to have to prove it."

            But I notice that materialists use this unproven P1 axiomatically. Indeed, it is the fundamental assumption of materialism.

            P1 = No bodies exist except material bodies.

            Yet that's not even self-evident, while the P1 that all that begins to exist has a cause is self-evident.

            By not even considering this P1 until it's proven, all the while taking the materialism P1 to be fundamentally true, you're putting yourself in position of contradiction.

            Got proof?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Do you understand the nature of provisional assumptions? You, as an ex-scientist, should know better. We test what can be tested. We make no assumptions about non-testable things. All scientists, without exception (except for the dishonest ones, of course) operate as provisional atheists while doing science.

          • Of course, but there's nothing that binds a scientist to think that science answers all questions. Philosophy can test questions too with the intellect. No scientist did a test for square circles to know they don't exist. It's reasoning.

            And no, scientists do not operate as provisional atheists while doing science, any more than cooks act like provisional atheists while making pancakes.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            It's not reasoning; it's definition. You can't define god into being.

            And you're wrong - or you're not understanding the point. All scientists do science as provisional atheists - unless you'd care to show me your lab notebooks indicating where you've considered miracles as part of the results.

            Given god and/or the supernatural, science qua science is impossible; we cannot guarantee that any experimental result is not a miracle.

          • Science cannot prove materialism, just like cooking cannot prove nothing but food exists. To study and manipulate materials is not to prove that materials are all that exist.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Nobody claimed it did. Please reread my comments.

            All experiments are conducted under the assumption that miracles aren't happening. If you're doing science that way, you're dishonest about what you're doing.

            Science doesn't even adopt Materialism as provisionally true, really. We just test what can be tested. Nobody claimed science answers all questions. Not even Dawkins. Not even Hitchens. Not even Myers.

          • I wasn't religious as a scientist, you're not telling me anything I don't know. Science will make a scientist very quickly aware of its limits though.

            So you aren't a materialist, or any of its buddy -isms? Most atheists I meet are, and say so. And you think Dawkins, Hitchens, and Myers consider questions about the immaterial realm? I don't think that's right.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Since Hitchens, Myers, and Dawkins have all claimed that they don't believe that god does not exist, I'd say they are not materialists.

            And you need to define the term materialist. As I've said, I don't know of many actual materialists.

          • So they're all agnostic? I said once on here that I thought all atheists were maybe really agnostics, and people quickly told me that wasn't so.

            Materialist - no bodies exist except material bodies. P1, see above.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            And what do you think those limits are?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Agnostic is an inappropriate word. They lack belief in god; they are are open to supportive evidence.

            Why theists keep using agnostic, I don't know. I am an atheist; I lack any belief in god. I have always, so far as I know, lacked belief in god. I may or may not be an agnostic.

          • ... all the while taking the materialism P1 to be fundamentally true, you're putting yourself in position of contradiction.

            I agree. Materialism can't be used as a valid premise, so I avoid doing so. You are justified to ask anyone who does, if he or she has got proof. If someone does give you proof (not just an argument of very high probability), please let me know about it. Lack of that proof is what stops me at methodological naturalism, short of full-out physicalism (materialism).

          • So you'd consider the cosmological argument then, on the same basis?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            The cosmological argument fails on a number of levels - not just the problem of P1's true value.

          • So you'd consider the cosmological argument then, on the same basis?

            What do you mean? I have explained at least one reason why P1 in the OP is not valid to use as a premise, which is enough to disregard the 'proof.' What else?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            You're not describing any atheists I know - certainly I don't see anyone here taking your P1 to be provably true.

            And it doesn't even account for emergent properties.

          • Emergent properties are still materialism. That's why gravity is studied scientifically.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Really? 'Blue' is material? Love is material? I'm trying to understand your use of the term 'material'.

          • I'm not sure what you're asking. It's a property. Hot is a property, based on material and on experience. You're talking about qualia, a philosophical question.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            An emergent property. Like wet. But it's not 'material'. Until you define what you mean by that, we're going to waste time on these side-tracks, I suspect.

          • alexander stanislaw

            My problem with P1 is that it seems to assume presentism which is the view of time that most people hold intuitively. Under presentism only the present exists and the future is caused by the present. Unfortunately presentism contradicts special relativity in which there is no present and no absolute simultaneity.

            I prefer the B theory of time which treats time like a dimension much like space. Events that are close in time are related by physical laws, however past and future are symmetric because the laws of physics are time symmetric*. But then where does causality come from? The short answer is thermodynamics. The long answer is explained in the following link:
            http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=11068

            Under such a view of causality, there is nothing mysterious about an initial state of low entropy. It can be considered a beginning of sorts, but its not intrinsically different from any other point in space-time.

            *CPT symmetric would be more accurate, but it doesn't add much to the discussion.

          • Yup.

            Imagine something begins to exist without a cause.

            In that case the thing would have to precede its own existence, since it cannot have been caused to begin to exist.

            It would have to exist both before and after it begins to exist.

            This is a contradiction.

            It is fatal.

            Next.

          • robtish

            Rick, your reasoning only holds true if the thing is its own cause. But if we "imagine something begins to exist without a cause," then it need not precede its own existence.

          • robtish:

            The reasoning holds.

            There is a state where a thing does not exist.

            There is a state where a thing does exist.

            There is a real change- an actualization of potential- that must be accounted for, logically, in the case of a thing beginning to exist.

            It either has a cause, that is, something causes it to begin to exist, or it is its own cause, that is it causes itself to begin to exist.

            Since no thing can precede its own existence, we see that no thing that begins to exist, can either be its own cause, or begin to exist without a cause.

            This is bulletproof.

            Next.

          • robtish

            You can say this: "It either has a cause, that is, something causes it to begin to exist, or it is its own cause, that is it causes itself to begin to exist."

            But if you do, you abandon the starting point of your post: "Imagine something begins to exist without a cause." For if something is its own cause, then you cannot say it begins to exist without a cause.

          • It is known as the reductio ad absurdum, robtish.

            It proceeds along these lines:

            Let us suppose the absurd thing alleged were true; in this case, let us suppose the absurd claim that something can begin to exist without a cause were true.

            We begin by noticing that the state of non-existence is a real thing- it is an actual state.

            There is in fact a condition of reality where robtish does not exist.

            There is a subsequent condition of reality where robtish *does* exist.

            Now.

            We must account., logically, for the fact that robtish begins to exist.

            Let us suppose robtish began to exist without a cause.

            But in that case something must have actualized the potential existence of robtish.

            That something can either be:

            1. A material cause, that accounts for the fact that robtish begins to exist, or

            2. No material cause that accounts for the fact that robtish begins to exist.

            If (2), then we see that robtish cannot have begun to exist, since nothing can account for the difference between the state of reality where robtish does not exist, and the state of reality where robtish does exist.

            But robtish does exist, therefore:

            robtish either is either caused to to begin to exist by something other than robtish, or else robtish is his own cause of existence.

            But robtish cannot be his own cause of existence, since in that case robtish would have existed prior to his beginning to exist, which is a contradiction.

            It is fatal.

            We see that everything that begins to exist, just like robtish, must have a cause.

            This is bulletproof.

            Next.

          • robtish

            These two statements are in conflict:

            "Let us suppose robtish began to exist without a cause.

            But in that case something must have actualized the potential existence of robtish."

            If you suppose the first, then you cannot hold the second, and much of this thread's discussion of quantum physics is about the possibility that at the quantum level, nothing is needed to actualize the potential existence of a particle or singularity, so it may well be possible to hold the first while denying the second.

            In addition, your second statement quoted above is nothing more than a version of your conclusion, which you've now let creep in as one of your premises. Which of course is, well, fatal.

          • These two statements are in conflict:

            "Let us suppose robtish began to exist without a cause.

            But in that case something must have actualized the potential existence of robtish."

            >> Exactly. Both cannot be true. That is the entire point of the reduction ad absurdum; that is, we know, with one hundred per cent certainty that the first statement is false.

            "If you suppose the first, then you cannot hold the second,"

            >> Exactly. The first is false.

            "and much of this thread's discussion of quantum physics is about the possibility that at the quantum level, nothing is needed to actualize the potential existence of a particle or singularity, so it may well be possible to hold the first while denying the second."

            >> To the contrary. Nothing in quantum physics is even relevant to the question.

            The atom exists.

            It emits radiation.

            The cause of the emission is simply a property of the atom.

            We notice that there are no radioactive emissions in the absence of atoms.

            The cause is quite clear.

            "In addition, your second statement quoted above is nothing more than a version of your conclusion, which you've now let creep in as one of your premises. Which of course is, well, fatal."

            >> To the contrary. The second statement is bulletproof, as a matter of logic.

            robtish did not exist.

            robtish began to exist.

            These are actual states.

            They involve a change, which must be accounted for.

            Since it is absurd to say that robtish brought himself into existence, we see that robtish has a cause for his beginning to exist.

            This is bulletproof.

            Next.

          • robtish

            This is the actual structure of your argument:

            1. Imagine something begins to exist without a cause.
            2. Assume that such a thing is impossible.
            3. Contradiction! Ergo, such a a thing is impossible.

          • Not quite.

            The real structure is:

            1. Imagine something begins to exist without a cause.
            2. Assume that such a thing is possible.
            3. Notice that the assumption involves a fatal contradiction.
            3. Contradiction! Ergo, such a a thing is impossible.

          • robtish

            No, I don't see that. When you say, "But in that case something must have actualized the potential existence of robtish," you are sneaking in your conclusion that it's impossible for something to exist without a cause. By asserting your conclusion as a premise, you are assuming the contradiction rather than proving it.

      • josh

        Brandon, there is no atheism-of-the-gaps argument. No one is using quantum mechanics to prove God's nonexistence (at least not via gaps.) Rather, they are showing that the purported proof fails because its first premise can be reasonably doubted. The premise could be true (as far as this argument goes, there are other problems with it) but it isn't known to be true so you don't have a sound proof.

        It could be true that Elvis was kidnapped by aliens, it's not my burden to show that this definitively didn't happen in order to dismiss the 'proof' that he will return with a hit single in 2014.

      • Ben

        Bell's theorem proves that, whatever quantum theory you think of, it can't include local hidden variables which explain uncaused quantum interactions. So in fact, it's proven that there is no local cause of apparently stochastic quantum events.

        • epeeist

          Bell's theorem proves that, whatever quantum theory you think of, it can't include local hidden variables

          There are people here who are having problems with gamma rays getting from the inside to the outside of nuclei and you want to introduce non-local realism? :-)

          • Michael Murray

            We are just going going to get all entangled up.

          • clod

            We only serve 'local' people in our shop. Don't touch the precious things.

      • josh

        Did a post of mine get removed here? It said similar things to Q. Quine's reply.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      Particles do not jump into and out of existence. The appear and disappear in a quantum field which is not nothing. It is a quantum field.

      • primenumbers

        But complete nothing leads to incoherency in it's definition, so the quantum field is a practical nothing that's about as little as there can be while still being something coherently defined.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Now who is fudging! The gulf between complete nothing and something, however meager, is total.

          • primenumbers

            Not fudging, just telling you like it is. The quantum field is about as close to nothing as we know of. In effect, this is about as close an analogy as we can get to the desired theistic position of a universe from nothing, and as it shows no cause, the KCA argument from analogy must be weaker and our quantum field must take priority to show that things can come from "as near to nothing as we can arrange" without cause.

            On the other hand, if you wish to assert a universe from a complete nothing, you not only have to do all the KCA stuff to show beginning and cause (and as you can tell from this thread, that's a rather steep slope to climb) and then you must demonstrate a "complete nothing" for the universe to come from, and please, we need a coherent definition of nothing too to go with it.

          • Metaphysical nothing may have no referent in the real world, but at least it is not as self contradictory as the theological nothing of WLC. You can have eternal divine omnipresence (in concept) or metaphysical nothing (also in concept), but not (even conceptually) both at the same time (and we are without objective evidence of either in the real world).

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            And not even necessarily coherent.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I don't follow what you mean.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Describe nothing.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Someone needs to help me see what I'm missing here.

            Nothing means no-thing physical. No matter, energy, time, space or anything which makes up the universe. No physical being.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            But all those are words. All referents to things, or the absence of things. Nothing isn't an absence.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Infinite means not finite. Infinity isn't an negation of finitude?

            Nothing means no things. Nothing isn't an negation of thingitude?

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            No. No things isn't nothing. Because that's still something. I think the problem is that we have no terminology to discuss nothing. Just like we have no terminology to discuss god.

          • Nothing means no-thing physical. No matter, energy, time, space or anything which makes up the universe. No physical being.

            So doesn't that mean there was never a time when there was really and truly nothing?

            The concept of nothing seems to me meaningless unless there is something. Nothing doesn't "exist" unless there is something. Nothing didn't exist before there was something for two reasons. First, you can't have nothing without something. Second, you can't have "before" without something (if time is considered a part of something).

            So it seems to me that even if God created the universe, he didn't create it out of nothing. There was no such thing as nothing. You can't have darkness without light, because darkness is the absence of light. If there is no such thing as light, then the concept of darkness is meaningless.

            A lot of this, it seems to me, ultimately depends on God being outside of time. I know I have argued that God's "foreknowledge" doesn't cause things to happen because he is outside of time. That argument doesn't really bother me, although it seems to bother many atheists. But when it comes to creation, the idea of God being outside of time seems problematic to me.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Why does God being outside of time seem problematic to you?

            Time is a creature, just like space, energy, matter and their properties.

            As someone else has pointed out here, the concepts of something and nothing as they apply to us, apply to God only by analogy. He is "something" because he has being. But he's not a thing, if by thing, we mean something physical.

          • Michael Murray

            Time is a creature, just like space, energy, matter and their properties.

            I'm confused. Did you really mean "creature" ?

          • VelikaBuna

            Probably creation, but didn't stop you from scoring a cheap point. Now your atoms flow with glee.

          • Michael Murray

            I wasn't scoring a cheap point I genuinely wanted the clarification and I hadn't thought of that one. Thanks.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Right. I mean anything created can be said to be a creature.

          • Why does God being outside of time seem problematic to you?

            It seems to me that for Christianity, there is one huge problem—the Incarnation. You have one person with two natures, with one nature outside of time, and the other nature inside of time. If God is outside of time, Jesus is inside of time. The God of philosophers can be said to be outside of time, but the God of Christianity entered into time. If Jesus was omniscient in any way, all the problems solved by claiming that God is outside of time are unsolved once Jesus enters time.

            In addition to that, virtually everything God is said to do in Christianity makes no sense if God is outside of time. A God outside of time can't answer prayers, for example. He also can't forgive (dictionary definition: to cease to feel resentment against on account of wrong committed : give up claim to requital from or retribution upon (an offender) : absolve, pardon). He can't do anything in which there is a before and after. It may be possible to recast in different terms basically everything that we say about God, but that would be an enormous project.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think it is not correct to say God is outside time and Jesus is inside time.

            Jesus Christ, according to classic Christian dogma, is one divine person with two natures, one divine, the other human. In his divine nature, Jesus Christ possesses the attribute of omniscience. In his human nature, he is not omniscient. In his divine nature, he is outside time (or all time is akin to one moment). In his human nature he is in time.

            I don't understand your difficulty in seeing how God can answer prayers if he is outside time. Could you elaborate a little more? I suspect whatever the problem is, it will be the same problem for forgiveness.

          • I don't understand your difficulty in seeing how God can answer prayers if he is outside time. Could you elaborate a little more?

            Answering prayers, forgiving, and any number of actions we ascribe to God require a before and after. They have to be reconceptualized to apply to a being that has no before and after. Note the definition I gave above for forgive.

            to cease to feel resentment against on account of wrong committed : give up claim to requital from or retribution upon (an offender) : absolve, pardon).

            You can't cease to feel something that you haven't previously felt. You can't give up a claim you never made.

            One of the very Catholic ideas about prayer is that you can pray to a saint to intercede with God for you. The idea is that if you can get a very "powerful" saint on your side, the saint can persuade God to do something he would not otherwise have done. But God can't be persuaded to do something for a couple of reasons. First, an immutable being can't change his mind. Second, even if God were not immutable, he has no before and after. So persuasion makes no sense.

            As I said, these notions have to be reconceptualized to apply to an immutable being outside of time, but how?

            In his human nature, he is not omniscient. In his divine nature, he is outside time (or all time is akin to one moment). In his human nature he is in time.

            But Jesus is one person. Are you saying that a person with two natures can know something with one of his natures but not know it with the other? In his earthly life, did the divine side of Jesus know things of which the human side was unaware? How can a single person both know and not know something at the same time?

            If God the Father "knew" that Judas would betray Jesus, then, if God is outside of time, that presents no problem with Judas's actions being predetermined or "locked in." But if Jesus knew Judas would betray him, Jesus was in time. And, of course, why didn't Jesus prevent Judas from betraying him? Why did he choose Judas as an apostle in the first place? If you choose someone you know is going to betray you, why aren't you responsible for the betrayal.

          • epeeist

            Nothing means no-thing physical. No matter, energy, time, space or anything which makes up the universe.

            But this is only a physical nothing, it isn't a metaphysical nothing. It still includes things like the laws of physics, logic and mathematics.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Physical nothing is all we are concerned with.

            The laws of physics and mathematics describe physical things. I don' think they exist on their own.

            They--and logic--are understood by rational minds. They can "preexist" in a non-material form in God's.

          • epeeist

            The laws of physics and mathematics describe physical things. I don' think they exist on their own.

            They--and logic--are understood by rational minds. They can "preexist" in a non-material form in God's.

            So you are allowing the laws of physics, which means that Krauss' universe from nothing is a possible, as are other possibilities that have been put forward here and elsewhere.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            No. The laws of physics describe how the physical universe behaves. The laws themselves have no power to do anything.

            It would be saying a criminal code could create criminals, cops, judges, and prisons.

          • epeeist

            No. The laws of physics describe how the physical universe behaves. The laws themselves have no power to do anything.

            I think you are mistaking theories and laws. Theories are descriptive, but laws are contingent and prescriptive. The classic example is that there is that the universe contains no sphere of uranium 235 a kilometre in radius.

          • No, laws are descriptive also, as your own example affirms.

            Your example is not a law.

            It is a description, a generalization of a given observation.

            A law is prescriptive, in that it subsumes all observations under one cause.

            The law of gravity, for example, falls apart completely on scales larger than a stellar cluster.

            Physical laws are simply the outcome of the scientific method of hypothesis and crucial experimental test.

            They stand until they don't.

          • Sample1

            Describe nothing

            Mike :-j

          • Susan

            The gulf between complete nothing and something, however meager, is total

            What does complete nothing (metaphysical nothing) have to do with it?

        • ZenDruid

          'Nothing' describes no energy, no mass, no space, no time, no location.....

          I read somewhere recently that a hard vacuum may be thought of as granular.

      • M. Solange O’Brien

        The existence of the particles is, so far as we can determine, acausal. It's the causality issue that Kaalam makes use of - not the pre-existence of a supporting field.

  • Ben

    Our intuition that "whatever begins to exist has a cause" is refuted by observing the world. For example, radioactive decay is stochastic. An atom of radon-222 can spontaneously decay to polonium-218 at any time, with no inciting "cause" necessary.

    So P1, although our intuition tells us it is true of certain phenomena at certain scales, does not apply to everything. There's no reason to think that the Big Bang had a 'cause'.

    • Quite to the contrary.

      We now have indepenedently confirmed, multiple experimental observations of periodicities in quantum phenomena.

      Quite interestingly, the periods are related to geometric cycles concerning the positions of Earth, Sun, and stars.

      http://www.ptep-online.com/index_files/2012/PP-30-02.PDF

      http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2010/100830FischbachJenkinsDec.html

      • alexander stanislaw

        Sorry, I don't see why that implies that quantum mechanical events are caused. Certainly the probabilities can be shifted around, but it is possible that the individual events are uncaused.

        • Rationalist1

          Don't get him going on that. I tried to explain it to him and it's hopeless.

          • It is hopeless for your world view, Rationalist, that much is true.

        • Certainly uncaused events are not periodic, and certainly not periodic along the same periodicities observed to occur in our local system's geometry.

          And yet, quantum events *are* periodic, along those same periodicities.

          Therefore, the claim "quantum events are uncaused" is observationally falsified.

          The claim "quantum events are uncaused" was never justified in the first place, of course.

          "We do not know the cause of quantum events"?

          Sure.

          The latter is a scientific statement.

          The former is a metaphysical statement, and it has been observationally falsified.

          • alexander stanislaw

            What do you mean by periodic? If I understood your links correctly, the probability distribution functions have a periodic shape, but the individual decay events are not predictable. I fail to see why uncaused events need to have a flat probability distribution.

            (I am not arguing that quantum events are uncaused. Like Q Quine, I simply think that P1 has not been shown to be true in the case of quantum events)

          • "What do you mean by periodic?"

            >> I mean exhibiting periodic patterns. See the link for details.

            "If I understood your links correctly, the probability distribution functions have a periodic shape,"

            >> Then you have answered your own question.

            " but the individual decay events are not predictable."

            >> Many things are not predictable. So what?

            " I fail to see why uncaused events need to have a flat probability distribution."

            >> That is because there are no uncaused events. In the case of radioactive decays, the events are not only caused, but also non-random; that is, they are observed to correlate to predictable physical cycles.

            "(I am not arguing that quantum events are uncaused. Like Q Quine, I simply think that P1 has not been shown to be true in the case of quantum events)"

            >> P1 is certainly true in the case of quantum events. Atoms emit radiation. It is a property of atoms to emit radiation. The radiation has been caused by the property of the atoms which involves emission of radiation.

            The assertion that these clearly-caused events are random, is also false.

          • alexander stanislaw

            I should probably first figure out what your view of causation is. Would you agree that for event A to be the cause of event B then A must be sufficient for B? For example gravity is the cause of a ball falling because whenever gravity is present and there are no other forces acting on a ball, the ball falls. Would you also agree that necessity is not a requirement for causation? For example a ball moving can be cause by gravity but it can be caused by other things as well.

            If we agree on that then, it is possible that radioactive decay is uncaused because, despite the periodicity of the probability distributions, at any given point in time two atoms can be indistinguishable and yet one decays and the other does not. The property of certain atoms that allow them to decay is a necessary but not sufficient condition for decay at any given point in time and is therefore does not fulfill the criteria for causation.

          • "I should probably first figure out what your view of causation is. Would you agree that for event A to be the cause of event B then A must be sufficient for B?"

            >> Certainly. There can of course be multiple causes.

            "For example gravity is the cause of a ball falling because whenever gravity is present and there are no other forces acting on a ball, the ball falls."

            >> Agreed, employing "gravity" in a purely descriptive sense.

            "Would you also agree that necessity is not a requirement for causation? For example a ball moving can be cause by gravity but it can be caused by other things as well."

            >> Multiple causes are reasonable.

            "If we agree on that then, it is possible that radioactive decay is uncaused"

            >> We disagree here.

            "because, despite the periodicity of the probability distributions, at any given point in time two atoms can be indistinguishable and yet one decays and the other does not."

            >> All this shows is that we cannot predict the precise moment at which two given indistinguishable atoms will decay.

            We also cannot predict whether two indistinguishable coins will land on heads of on tails.

            Both events, however, are clearly caused: the decay by the property of atoms to decay, and the heads or tails by the property of coins to land on one side or the other when tossed.

            "The property of certain atoms that allow them to decay is a necessary but not sufficient condition for decay at any given point in time"

            >> The property of coins that allows them to land on heads or tails is a necessary but not sufficient condition for landing on heads or tails on any given toss.

            " and is therefore does not fulfill the criteria for causation."

            >> False. The cause of the decay is a property of the atom. The cause of the heads or tails is a property of the coin.

            Both are unpredictable.

            Both are caused.

          • alexander stanislaw

            "We also cannot predict whether two indistinguishable coins will land on heads or tails."

            A coin flip is not in principle unpredictable. Given a certain flip of a coin (with a specified initial velocity, angular momentum and all of the properties of the system including height, and the materials involved), and some very good simulation software, it is possible to predict whether that coin flip will result in heads or tails. If it results in heads then it would have resulted in heads no matter how many times you ran the simulation. That particular coin flip was the cause of that particular result because it was necessary and sufficient for the result to happen.

            By contrast with radioactive decay, there are no known variable of an atom that would allow you to know whether it will decay or not at a given moment in time. If you could demonstrate the existence of such variables then you would succeed in demonstrating P1 in the case of quantum systems.

          • "A coin flip is not in principle unpredictable."

            >> But neither is a quantum event in principle unpredictable, now that we *know* that quantum events exhibit periodicities related to local astrophysical phenomena.

            In other words, the "principle" that asserts these phenomena are unpredictable is itself challenged by observational science.

            "By contrast with radioactive decay, there are no known variable"

            >> There is now one known variable. The existence of this one, by the way, completely falsifies the "principle" that there *can be no known variables*.

            P1 stands.

          • alexander stanislaw

            "There is now one known variable. The existence of this one, by the way, completely falsifies the "principle" that there *can be no known variables*."

            If this is so, then given two radioactive atoms, how would determine which one will decay in the next hour? What experiment would you have to perform or what property would you have to measure to determine that?

          • We should begin by initiating a full-scale research program into the observed periodicities.

            Having identified one variable, we know that the decays are not random, but are affected by astrophysical cycles in our local system.

            Let us do science, and begin to encourage creative hypotheses to explain the observed periodicities, thereby, hopefully, discovering some new principle of nature that is presently hidden from us.

            Another word for the above process is "science".

            But the real issue here is already settled, alexander.

            The claim that quantum events are random is observationally falsified.

            We do not know everything that governs the phenomenon, but at least we now know there *is something to look for*.

            P1 stands.

          • alexander stanislaw

            "The claim that quantum events are random is observationally falsified."

            Huh? Randomness is not what is being discussed here. The question is whether or not decay events are caused, in other words whether or not there is a sufficient condition such that an event will occur. Randomness is not required for this to be false (it could be the case that condition X increases the likelihood that a decay event will occur without guaranteeing that it will occur).

            "We should begin by initiating a full-scale research program into the observed periodicities."

            So it sounds like it is an open question whether or not there are variables that would allow you to determine whether a decay event will occur or not. More work needs to be done. Agree?

          • "More work needs to be done. Agree?"

            >> Certainly agree.

            "The question is whether or not decay events are caused, in other words whether or not there is a sufficient condition such that an event will occur."

            >> Also agreed. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics insists that they are not, that no such condition can exist.

            The observed periodicities related to astrophysical cycles is conclusive evidence that the Copenhagen interpretation is wrong.

            Time to get to work.

          • alexander stanislaw

            Since we agree that we do not know whether such variables exist then would you also agree that we do not know whether quantum events are caused until said work has been done?

          • alexander stanislaw

            Since more work needs to be done, it would seem prudent to agree that we don't know what the outcomes will be. We don't whether or not such variables exist and therefore we don't know whether quantum events are caused.

            "The observed periodicities related to astrophysical cycles is conclusive evidence that the Copenhagen interpretation is wrong."

            I addressed this in my previous comment. A condition can cause the probability of an event to increase without being sufficient for that event to occur. The fact that the probability of the decay event occurring can be changed does not make it predictable.

      • Ben

        OK, outside of your crazy geocentric fringe science, it's still considered that quantum events are stochastic.

        • Well, Ben, it is nice to see your world view exposed.

          A peer reviewed scientific experiment is fringe, geocentric, and crazy, just so long as Ben doesn't like its outcome.

          As I have been showing again and again, atheism is a profoundly anti-reason, anti-science world view.

          • Ben

            I assume that, like all the other scientific findings you post about, this is fringe science you've picked because it accords vaguely with the Bible.

            But even if that research holds up 100%, at best it shows that radioactive decay is random and the rate can be increased slightly by random interactions with neutrinos or something else coming out of the Sun.

            It still doesn't give us a way to predict an individual radioactive decay event. So it has no bearing on the fact that P1 doesn't hold up.

          • " assume that, like all the other scientific findings you post about, this is fringe science you've picked because it accords vaguely with the Bible."

            >> Less assumption, more examination, please. "Fringe science" involves fringe theory.

            The links involve zero theory, and one hundred per cent observational *science*.

            You see, Ben, the particle decays are as observed whether one is Catholic, atheist, mainstream, fringe, geocentrist or polycentrist.

            In other words, the links are to *scientific experiments*, not the theoretical bomfoggeries.

            The experiments do happen to very stongly mitigate against the standard theory, and very strongly mitigate in favor of geocentrism, but hey!

            Fair is fair.

            In *real* science, anyway.

            "But even if that research holds up 100%, at best it shows that radioactive decay is random and the rate can be increased slightly by random interactions with neutrinos or something else coming out of the Sun."

            >> In other words, it is not random, but is instead periodic, and the periodicities are related to local geometry of astrophysical bodies.

            Which is world changing.

            "It still doesn't give us a way to predict an individual radioactive decay event. So it has no bearing on the fact that P1 doesn't hold up."

            >> Completely false. We can't predict the weather out four weeks, but that doesn;t mean the weather in four weeks is uncaused.

            P1 stands- in fact it is not even addressed- by our present inability to predict a radioactive decay in advance.

            The decay is certainly caused- it is caused by the atom from which the decay is observed to be emitted.

  • Sample1

    When atheists say theists have failed to show God exists, they must have a standard of what would show God exists in order to know that theists haven’t succeeded in that task.

    Why would anyone have an obligation to formulate standards of proof for unknown unknowns? Isn't that called mental masturbation? The null hypothesis is all that's needed. How could black holes have had a standard of proof before Einstein gave the world General Relativity?

    Show me the money and then we can talk.

    Mike

  • clod

    What actually is the 'new support' for KCA mentioned in the OP? What does it consist of?

    "They should believe P1 because they already believe that something cannot come from nothing without a supernatural cause."

    Clearly this is false. It's generally not good form to tell atheists what they 'should' believe.

  • ZenDruid

    Craig provides two main reasons to think that “whatever begins to exist has a cause.” The first is intuition, or the conclusion we come to upon thoughtful reflection about the idea that something can’t come into existence from nothing. The second is induction, or the conclusion we draw from universal observation that things which begin to exist always have causes.

    I would define intuition as a function of the imagination, correlated in the neurological sense, or simply by habit, with the ubiquitous agency detection syndrome. Often called a 'sense', often called a 'gift', for all practical purposes it is the imagination amusing itself with insufficient or misunderstood information. 'Thoughtful reflection' would then apply a subjectively limited set of truisms to the fruit of your intuition. The next step, induction, is imagining that your line of thinking follows reality as well as it follows Aristotelian logic.

    So much for my opinion of Craig's mode of thought. And Aristotle's. And, by extension Plato, who managed to put imaginary things on the same footing as real things, in regard to existing.

    • Wait, according to Plato, don't Space Ponies exist? Gotta be an ideal form.

      • ZenDruid

        In keeping with the Zeitgeist of Aristotle's day:

        Give me Democritus or give me hemlock!

    • epeeist

      The next step, induction, is imagining that your line of thinking follows reality as well as it follows Aristotelian logic.

      The problem with induction is that it doesn't get you certainty, never mind necessity. Here is a variant on clod's chikkins.

  • ZenDruid

    (P1): Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

    (P2): The universe is the set of all things that exist.

    (C): Therefore, the universe has a cause, namely the presence of at least one thing that exists.

    • M. Solange O’Brien

      Not a causal relationship, I think.

      • ZenDruid

        I think the logic works, though.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          It depends entirely on how you treat set theory. The set of all cats exists whether or not any cats exist. Add a cat and the set doesn't 'pop' into being.

          • ZenDruid

            Agreed; I'm thinking that a set [in this case] can't be defined without a representative sample of its contents.

          • Agreed; I'm thinking that a set can't be defined without a representative sample of its contents.

            Well, they can, but it may lead to problems. A sign of trouble is when the def starts off "The set of all X such that X is not ..."

          • ZenDruid

            Ya know, I don't think I wanna learn set theory.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Ah, but consider the set of all people who don't want to learn set theory, yet who discuss set theory....

          • ZenDruid

            Touché.

          • There is some odd stuff re transfinite power-sets, but for the most part set theory is isomorphic to second order logic. Be thee not afeared.

          • ZenDruid

            Yes, this is why I'm into philosophy and history....

            I'm good as far as good clean intrinsic instinctive Euclidean type logic, but not capable of much more.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Unfortunately, the universe doesn't appear to favor your comfort level.

            Which I think is the saddest thing about theism in general - the fact that the universe simply doesn't behave neatly.

          • ZenDruid

            I have come to terms with the fact that, no matter how well I am adapted to the middle world, it takes more than seat-of-the-pants logic and imagination to nail the concepts that drive the lower and higher orders. Always happy to hear the experts communicate on their understandings, though.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Ah. Not the way I learned set theory. 'course, what do they know at Stanford?

          • Michael Murray

            Wouldn't it then be a category ?

          • epeeist

            The set of all cats exists whether or not any cats exist.

            Well done, you have just rediscovered the problem of existential import.

  • 42Oolon

    I simply do not agree that something coming from nothing is evidence of the "supernatural", if we have evidence of something coming from nothing, as Laurence Kraus states he has determined scientifically, we do not assume it is supernatural.

    None of the examples you propose, e.g. a limb growing back, requires something coming from nothing. A limb can grow back by re-arranging pre-existing matter, as occurs in animals who do this naturally.

  • 42Oolon

    The whole point of science and philosophy is to check whether our intuitions are correct objectively. It is intuitive that lead is solid matter, not mostly empty space.

    Induction. We have almost no evidence of something "beginning to exist". Almost all of the evidence we have is that nothing "begins to exist", but that matter and energy take different forms and can be are re-arranged. Even when we destroy matter in a nuclear explosion, it doesn't disappear, but changes to energy.

    We also have little experience of "nothing". When we do investigate what we get when we remove time and space from a model, is millions of virtual particles popping into existence, apparently from "nothing".

    Therefore, from our induction of events, it would appear that matter an energy do not arise out of something, but only out of nothing.

    • thursday

      "We have almost no evidence of something beginning to exist"
      Really? Please go on.
      "when we remove time and space from a model, is millions of virtual particles popping into existence, apparently from "nothing"
      So nothing is something that virtual particles come from. Wouldn't a virtual particle be one that isn't really there?

      • 42Oolon

        Yes, really. And no.

        • thursday

          All the evidence tells us things begin to exist. You began to exist. I began to exist. Your no is in response what?

          • 42Oolon

            So by "begin to exist" you must then mean re-arrange matter and energy into different forms, like the atoms that make up me have been arranged through chemical reactions? In this sense, yes, we have enormous evidence of things beginning to exist and have identified billions of causes. None of these causes have been supernatural and all have been within time and space. Except for the virtual particles, which, seem to come out of nothing.

            My "no" was no, virtual particles are not not really there, they seem to be called "virtual" because they cannot be directly observed we arrive at them through mathematical deduction (but I really do not understand this, you'll have to ask a physicist, and probably get a masters in physics. I am making an appeal to authority here.)

  • 42Oolon

    Ultimately, Kalam is just a distraction from an argument from ignorance. We do not know if something can come from nothing. We do not know that everything that "begins to exist" had a cause. It is wrong to say that we know it had a cause or that we know what that cause is.

    • thursday

      Your confused.

      • Or, perhaps, you're confused.

        • thursday

          No, not at all actually(though I'll admit quantum phsyics indeed confuses me - I am not bothered by that however because it seems to also confuse physicists) I was confused initially by the argument being made by many here that somehow P1 could not stand because there "may" be uncaused events ie. gamma rays. I have asked questions. I have read the same argument stated and restated by different posters. I have also read posters who argued that P1 is logically sound and necessarily true. I was persuaded not only by my own "intuition" and reason but also by some of their arguments. I found Rick DeLano particularly persuasive. His logic and reason are flawless and I have not heard a "science" based challenge to his assertions. Please note here that I'm am referring only to his defense of Kalam and not on his assertions, if he has made them here, about the cause being God.

          • His logic and reason are flawless and I have not heard a "science" based challenge to his assertions.

            What you find persuasive is your own business and you are entitled to your own opinion. I do suggest, however, that you keep in mind that a lack of challenge is not necessarily a lack of effective riposte, but rather, may result from a lack of reasonable expectation of cessation of nonsense.

          • thursday

            "but rather, may result from a lack of reasonable expectation of cessation of nonsense"
            Just like gamma rays may result from nothing. Anyway what some find to be nonsense is their own business and they are entitled to their opinion. It remains that objectively speaking he made his case and you,along with many others did not.

          • Michael Murray

            It remains that objectively speaking he made his case and you,along with many others did not.

            Not true we have given up replying for the reasons Quine's makes clear.

            The difference between our nonsense and his is that ours has the support of the vast majority of the physics community and drives a lot of modern technology and his is just … nonsense. But pick whichever you like.

          • thursday

            Be specific. What nonsense of yours is supported by the entire physics community? I don't want all of your nonsense just the bit that you claim casts sufficient doubt on P1.

          • Michael Murray

            It's really the whole of modern physics and it's implications that make notions like cause and exist questionable. So P1 doesn't really get off the ground. I have said this before but you are convinced that it's not logical and not common sense or that the majority of physicists in the world are wrong. I can't help you with that.

          • Of course you can't Michael.

            Because science has gone crazy for want of a decent metaphysics.

            Please excuse the rest of us for declining to jump through the Looking Glass.

            It is simultaneously affirmed that:

            1. There is no cause, no existence, and reality is purely random

            2. The sun will rise tomorrow in Los Angeles at 5:59 am

            The problem is not with assertion number 2.

          • 1. There is no cause, no existence, and reality is purely random

            There is no "cause" (triggering mechanism) for certain events at the quantum level.

            There is certainly existence!

            Nobody has ever claimed reality is "purely random." Phenomena like radioactive decay are just as predictable, at the macro level, as the behavior of billions of molecules in a gas. It is just that in theory, or in principle, the behavior of the gas molecules would be predictable on the micro level given enough computing power (which we will never have) whereas the behavior of individual atoms undergoing radioactive decay would be in terms of probabilities.

            Quantum mechanics discovers the laws of nature. It does not do away with them. And to the best of our present knowledge, the universe came into existence in terms that can be described by quantum theory.

            2. The sun will rise tomorrow in Los Angeles at 5:59 am

            Sunrise is not a quantum phenomenon. Anyone deeply committed to quantum physics would predict sunrise in Los Angeles tomorrow exactly the same way as someone who never heard of quantum physics—that is, based on the regularity of the rotation of the earth on its axis.

          • "There is no "cause" (triggering mechanism) for certain events at the quantum level."

            >> This assertion is knowably false.

            We know it is false, because the events at the quantum level occur in a universe which involves exquisitely ordered and predictable phenomena, such as the sun's rising in Los Angeles at 5:59 am tomorrow.

            Therefore, we *know* that the assertion that the fundamental ground of being is causeless and random is false.

            It is true that our theorists cannot discover how it is that quantum events which appear to them to be fundamentally random, can somehow conspire to render a world which is ordered and predictable.

            That is their problem.

            God is clearly able to solve all the quantum equations in perfect consistency with the events at the classical scale.

            Of course, the atheist wishes to deny God, and hence is led through the Looking Glass, simultaneously insisting:

            1. The fundamental ground of being is causeless, random, unpredictable

            2. The sun will rise in Los Angeles at 5:59 am tomorrow.

            It is very easy to see that the two assertions are incompatible.

            The problem does not lie in assertion number 2.

          • thursday

            If modern physics asserts what you say it does then my friend not only does P1 not get off the ground but neither does science. In this world you posit nothing can be known. Science dies because it rests on the notion that the material world is understandable. Philosophy dies because nothing can be known, there is no reason, no logic, no truth, no reality. I think therefor I am becomes I don't know if I am and thinking doesn't matter. If this is the case why do you keep writing.

          • Michael Murray

            If modern physics asserts what you say it does then my friend not only does P1 not get off the ground but neither does science.

            No this is not correct. There is some randomness and some limits to what we can know but not enough to destroy science completely.

          • "If modern physics asserts what you say it does then my friend not only does P1 not get off the ground but neither does science."

            Bravo, thursday.

            Bingo.

          • In this world you posit nothing can be known. Science dies because it rests on the notion that the material world is understandable.

            Pick up a introductory or advanced text on quantum mechanics, read it if you can, or just leaf through it, and see if you conclude that "nothing can be known." Or just go to the Wikipedia entry, read it from start to finish, and come back and tell us if the message you get is that "nothing can be known."

          • thursday

            The message I have gotten from the things I have read on quantum physics is that I do not understand it and that I am not alone in this. I think it is safe to say that no one currently understands why things behave as they do in quantum mechanics until they do I think it is illogical and downright foolish to attempt to defeat logical assertions on the basis of admitted ignorance. I did not say that I conclude from quantum mechanics that nothing can be known, I have no argument with quantum mechanics my objection is with those who attempt to use quantum observations, that have not been explained, as weapons to attack observations that have been explained. In this scenario yes nothing could be known, nothing could be argued, there would always be an objection based on what is not yet understood.

          • Susan

            my objection is with those who attempt to use quantum observations, that have not been explained, as weapons to attack observations that have been explained.

            Can you give me an example of where somebody has done that?

          • thursday

            Go back and read the posts.

          • Susan

            Go back and read the posts.

            I've followed the discussion, Thursday but don't see where anyone has attempted to use quantum observations that have not been explained as weapons to attack observations that have been explained.

            You must have at least one or two examples in mind. At least one.

            If you can't think of one off the top of your head, maybe you should go back and read the posts.

          • thursday

            I can't help that.

            And yes I do.

          • Susan

            This is advertised as a dialogue, Thursday.

            The idea is that if you make an assertion or allude to something, then it's useful if you explain what you mean.

            Giving an example is a good start.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            I do not necessarily see that Thursday is arguing in good faith.

          • Susan

            Nor do I. But I hoped to point out to Thursday that if you want to accuse someone of something, it's important to make a case for that.

            This requires providing an example.

          • robtish

            "I think it is illogical and downright foolish to attempt to defeat logical assertions on the basis of admitted ignorance."

            Conversely, one could say: I think it is illogical and downright foolish to defend logical assertions on the basis of admitted ignorance.

          • Michael Murray

            To be honest I just don't see why

            "we don't know the colour of the cow in that barn"

            is not a logical defeat of the claim

            "we know all cows are black"

            And all without using quantum mechanics.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Well put.

          • thursday

            "To be honest I just don't see why"

            That is because you are not logical. The cow in the barn has a color whether you have seen it or not. If all known cows have been black then the statement we know all cows are black is valid unless you find a cow that isn't. The fact that you do not know the color of the cow in the barn because you have not seen it does not defeat" we know all cows are black" nor does it affect its color. If you discover the color of the cow in the barn and it is brown then and only then have you defeated the proposition that "we know all cows are black."

          • Michael Murray

            The discussion will last longer if you try not to say things like

            That is because you are not logical

            Better to say "because you are not thinking logically".

            I have defeated the claim "we know all cows are black" because I have shown that we do not know all cows are black. I have not proved the claim "all cows are not black" but I don't need to do that.

          • If all known cows have been black then the statement we know all cows are black is valid unless you find a cow that isn't.

            But it seems to me that saying "we don't know the color of the cow in that barn" is acknowledging that the cow may not be black. If you know for a fact that all cows are black, then you do know the color of the cow in the barn.

            If you are being very careful, in science, you do not reach conclusions by induction alone. "Everything that begins to exist" is being passed off as a logical truth, but it seems to me it is a conclusion reached by induction, and induction based on everyday experience, not quantum phenomena or the beginning of a new universe.

            Don't forget that in contemporary physics, the pattern for the past century or more has been to formulate theories, make predictions, and then look for the data to confirm the predictions. It has not been to collect huge amounts of data, pour through the data, and come up with a theory to fit.

          • thursday

            The cow thing does not really work for our purposes here. You would not construct a proof that says

            I do not know the color of the cow in the barn
            All cows are black.

            The proof would be

            All cows are black

            The animal in the barn is a cow

            Therefor it is black.

            Now of course this only works if the first premise is indeed shown to be true. I wouldn't expect it to stand if it were based just on induction. If all I could say was all the cows I have seen were black that of course would not take into account all the cows that exist or will exist. If that premise was supported by observation and by known science( say for example that researches studied why all cows are black and found that they could only be black) then it stands as a general statement of fact.

            It seems to me that Kalams P1 is not purely arrived at by induction. It seems it is supported by science since science expects to find causes for things that begin to exist. It seems that Kalams is applying deductive reasoning much like the following proof.

            All men are mortal

            Bob is a man.

            Bob is mortal.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Now of course this only works if the first premise is indeed shown to be true. I wouldn't expect it to stand if it were based just on induction. If all I could say was all the cows I have seen were black that of course would not take into account all the cows that exist or will exist.

            And that's exactly what we've been saying. We have not seen all cows. We have seen some cows we think are not black. Therefore P1 (All cows are black) fails to be true.

            If that premise was supported by observation and by known science( say for example that researches studied why all cows are black and found that they could only be black) then it stands as a general statement of fact.

            Supported by observation only gets you as far as induction. The second half of your observation is more accurate.

            It seems to me that Kalams P1 is not purely arrived at by induction. It seems it is supported by science since science expects to find causes for things that begin to exist. It seems that Kalams is applying deductive reasoning much like the following proof.

            No. Even WLC doesn't claim that Kaalam P1 is supported by deduction. It's a purely inductive argument that has failed to prove true in the fact of quantum theory.

            Your syllogism doesn't apply to demonstrating P1.

          • thursday

            We may get to P1 by intuition and induction but Kalam is a deductive argument. P1 has not been proven to be wrong by quantum theory. In the world of quantum mechanics events occur that cannot be explained. Those events either have a natural explanation or a supernatural explanation. To this you will say "no, there is just no explanation, that is just the way the quantum world works" and that is where you are no longer logical and no longer scientific.

          • epeeist

            We may get to P1 by intuition and induction but Kalam is a deductive argument.

            Yes it is, but to be sound it relies on its premisses to be true.

            Now since P1 is based on induction then you cannot show it to be necessarily true (this stems back to Hume's arguments on induction).

            P1 has not been proven to be wrong by quantum theory.

            There are a few of us here who are physicists or working in fields derived from physics, myself among them. The thing that QM shows is that P1 is not a necessary truth.

            Given this the argument is not sound.

          • thursday

            Well good than you can help me understand some things but first, Hume points out that no premise arrived at by induction can be justified. That does not make inductive reasoning useless, to the contrary, we accept inductive assertions until they are proven to be untrue.

            From what I have heard argued here I do not think QM proves P1 false. If your argument is " I am a physicist so trust me, it does" then sorry that doesn't work for me. I can't get around the fact that the gama ray comes from the atom though we don't understand how. It doesn't just pop into existence it is created by something already in existence. The atom then is the cause if this is not so tell me why it is not so. Do we find gamma rays where there are no atoms?

            Is the physicist working in QM just there to observe or is he there to understand? For example when the gamma ray comes from the atom does he look for a natural explanation and finding none say I guess that's just how things happen round here.The latter doesn't sound like science to me. It sounds more like what a pre-science response of man to a volcano might have been. Would the physicist working in QM ever suggest or ponder whether the events that seem to have no natural cause may have a supernatural one?

          • epeeist

            Hume points out that no premise arrived at by induction can be justified. That does not make inductive reasoning useless, to the contrary, we accept inductive assertions until they are proven to be untrue.

            I have posted this link before. The problem is the universal quantification in P1. Induction only allows us to to make claims about instances of which we have had experience, any extrapolation to instances of which we have no experience is unreliable. Thus the claim to universal quantification is defeasible. There is also an implicit modal modifier in P1, namely that premiss is necessary. But again, argument from induction doesn't allow us to make the claim that P1 is a necessary truth, which again provides a defeater for the premiss.

            If your argument is " I am a physicist so trust me, it does" then sorry that doesn't work for me.

            Excellent, you shouldn't take anyone's word as a definitive authority.

            I can't get around the fact that the gama ray comes from the atom though we don't understand how.

            But we do understand how. It is just that without the formalism you are going to have difficulties understanding it.

            I am going to switch examples, this one might be easier. Picture a marble inside one of the tall jars that are used for spaghetti. Now it should be clear that the marble inside the jar and the marble outside the jar are both possible configurations. If you want to get the marble from the inside to the outside then you are going to have to supply it with some energy to get it from the bottom of the jar, up and over the side to the outside.

            However when it comes to the quantum scale the situation is different. The position of the quantum sized marble is not a single point, we can only describe it in terms of where it probably is, and that probability is non-zero outside the quantum scaled jar. So, depending on the the height of the jar walls (the potential energy barrier) and the momentum of the quantum marble it is perfectly possible for the marble to simply be outside the jar without having to go up and over the side of the jar.

            One can explain this using the energy/time form of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. The marble can simply borrow the energy from the quantum vacuum providing it pays it back in line with the second formula shown on this page.

          • Thanks, Epeeist, for such a good explanation of why the demonstrable fact that P1 is not necessarily true (even if it is true) means that the conclusion of "cause" re the Universe, is also not necessarily true (even if it is true). Hope that sinks it.

          • Sample1

            This is such an importance nuance to drive home: even if it is true. In other words, even if it is true it is impossible for the assertion to carry even one compelling iota of logic in that particular construct. For those who say it does matter, well, what they are doing is building a house in the same type of environment where "proving a negative" resides.

            And yet build they do. For the Jews, 613 mitzvot. For the Catholics, volumes of canon laws.

            Mike

          • Thanks Mike. There is a similar situation in presuppositional theology. Presuming the existence of a deity with a postulated set of attributes and then constructing a logical explanation of the world purported to be created by said deity, does not necessarily make it true, even if it could be done without contradiction to observable facts.

          • Michael Murray

            Yes very nice so the argument is really

            P1 Some cows are black and some aren't.
            P2: The barn has cows in it.
            C: Therefore the barn is black

          • Let me fix that for you:

            P1 Maybe Ssome cows are black and some aren't.
            P2: The barn has cows in it.
            C: Therefore, maybe the barn is black.

          • Michael Murray

            There's also a trick that's hard to cover with the cow barn analogy. You get from the things in the universe to the whole universe by asserting that they both have the property of beginning to exist and it is that property which means they have a cause. So the leap from cow to barn is nicely hidden.

          • Yes, the Fallacy of Composition. It was mentioned in the debate with WLC that I linked in this comment a couple of days ago.

          • josh

            The pre-science response to a volcano was 'God must have done it'.

          • josh

            thursday, let me add a couple thoughts about QM that might help. It is an admittedly confusing subject. But bear in mind that with or without QM one doesn't have a good argument for God, QM is just a pointed example of how such arguments fail.

            The atom in your example exists earlier in time than the gamma ray, we might say it is converted into the ray and some other decay products. But that doesn't give us a cause for the decay, we can't predict when and therefore even if the atom will decay. Sort of like saying that my car is a prerequisite for a crash, but my car is not, by itself, the cause of a crash.

            Physicists have searched high and low for some sort of traditional cause to explain QM with no luck. This kind of thing drove Einstein up the wall, leading to his famous "god does not play dice" quote. But any hope of resolving it starts necessarily looking like a very non-traditional cause, and I don't mean supernatural. Googling things like 'no hidden variables' or 'EPR paradox' will give you an idea of the tests that have shown that to have anything like a predictive variable that we could call a cause, just in principle, you have to give up things like 'local realism' that would seem to be needed for a traditional view of causes as well.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Of course Kaalam is deductive; it's just a basic (and rather trivial syllogism). The problem is that it's of no actual value until P1 and P2 are shown to be true. And you haven't done that. WLC hasn't done that. No one has done that.

            And if you claim that acausal quantum fluctuations have an explanation, then you demonstrate you know nothing of quantum theory; and if you claim the supernatural is involved, then you've begged the question - a logical fallacy, which shows you've abandoned logic.

            P1 has not been shown to be true. P2 has not been shown to be true. Our available evidence including quantum theory indicates that P1 probably isn't true.

          • It seems it is supported by science since science expects to find causes for things that begin to exist.

            It seems to me the whole point that "atheists" are making is not only that scientists do not expect to find causes for (all) things that exist, but in quantum mechanics, things happen without cause. So if the atheists and I are representing quantum mechanics correctly, science has proved that at least some things that exist do not have a cause. Consequently, the premise that "everything that begins to exist has a cause" is not true.

            Some people here are fond of tagging certain arguments with the names of fallacies, and I suppose your approach is based on the argument from incredulity. If quantum physics says things "begin to exist" without a cause, you say, "But that can't be! Everything that begins to exist has a cause!" You claim that is a logical statement and not something arrived at by induction. But what is the basis of the "logical statement"? Is it a matter of pure logic that everything that begins to exist must have a cause?

          • epeeist

            "Everything that begins to exist" is being passed off as a logical truth, but it seems to me it is a conclusion reached by induction, and induction based on everyday experience, not quantum phenomena or the beginning of a new universe.

            Not just a logical truth but a necessary truth. And yes, it is a claim based on experience and therefore inductive, and since it is inductive it cannot be universal, necessary or certain.

            Don't forget that in contemporary physics, the pattern for the past century or more has been to formulate theories, make predictions, and then look for the data to confirm the predictions.

            I would say "test the predictions" rather than "confirm the predictions".

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            You really don't understand logic, I'm afraid. If all known cows have been black then the statement that we know all cows are black is... not necessarily true.

            And beyond the inductive problem, we have strong evidence that not all cows ARE black.

          • Max Driffill

            We cannot know all cows are black unless we surveyed all the cows. We could, at best, predict with high confidence that the cow in the barn would be black, the whole time understanding that we were just making a decent (i hope) inference based on current sampling at the time. If our understanding of cow color was in its infancy we might not proceed with a great deal of confidence.

            In any event, the point stands, in the thought experiment we are not justified in saying "We know all cows are black." We don't. We are making an inference. There may be good reasons to predict a black cow, but that isn't the same thing as knowing the cow will be black.

          • Michael Murray

            Perhaps you are not allowing for bovine inspiration ?

          • thursday

            I agree.

          • . . . .my objection is with those who attempt to use quantum observations, that have not been explained, as weapons to attack observations that have been explained.

            The problem with your objection is that the earliest moments of the universe are understood to involve quantum phenomena. So it would be foolish to ignore the findings of quantum physics in an argument about the universe "beginning to exist." And it is the finding of quantum physics that certain things have no explanation. It is not that there will be an explanation but we have not discovered it yet. It is that there have been scientific tests (involving Bell's inequality) to determine if there are things we don't know ("hidden variables") or if that's just the way things are. And the evidence points directly to the latter.

            It is true that there is a lot in quantum physics that boggles the mind. But we have formulated all of our "common sense" notions based on the "classical" world, not on the relativistic or the quantum mechanical world. Classical physics simply does not work in realms where relativistic or quantum mechanical effects are present, so "proofs" based on the assumptions of classical physics may very well not be meaningful when the beginnings of the universe were quantum mechanical.

          • thursday

            P1 All things that begin to exist have a cause.
            P2 The universe began to exist
            P3 Therefore the universe has a cause.
            If "cause" means a "something" already in existence(be it a force, or material, or process or intelligence...) which is what I take it to mean, rather than an "explanation" then the events in the the quantum mechanical world (at least the one the posters here have used) do not threaten nor defeat P1.

            We are left with this, something always was. Whatever that something is it is the cause or source or force for all that is. The atheist insists that "something" is not God the theist that it is God and that is a matter of faith for both.

          • We are left with this, something always was.

            It seems to me a little more complicated than that. If God created time and is not within time, you can't say he "always was." You can't even say he existed at the beginning of time, continues to exist, and will exist for all eternity. For the God of the philosophers, there is no past, present, and future.

            It seems to me that God can't get a joke or enjoy a movie or a play. He also can't forgive, since forgiveness requires a change. He can't be "persuaded" to heal a sick person, because persuasion involves a switch in plans, or doing something that one had not originally planned to do. (Before you cry heresy, be warned that some of this is right out of Thomas Aquinas.)

            This is not to say some of these concepts can't be reformulated so as to meaningfully apply to God. But it is very difficult to imagine how.

            I don't the the meaning of "cause" is merely that something preexisted the event that was allegedly caused. For example, if there is a block of stone and some chisels, and the next thing you know, there is The Ecstasy of St. Teresa or The Pietà, I don't think the block and stone and chisels can be taken to be the cause of the sculptures.

          • thursday

            The discussion I was interested in here was about Kalams argument and whether it was sound. It seems to me that it is.

            As to cause, in your scenario(stone, chisel, sculptures) we know that statues don't just pop into existence they are caused, they come from some source. If there is no natural explanation for how they got there then there must be a supernatural one.We do not assume "that is just the way things are". We know that is "not" the way things are.

            If we apply this to the world of quantum physics I think it would also be the case that when we see the atom and then suddenly the gamma ray from the radio active decay we must either find a natural cause or posit a supernatural one but it seems some want to say instead "that's just the way things happen in the quantum world." This is said because they do not accept supernatural anything.

            I believe this was the point in Horn's article. If the only thing that would prove God to an atheist is an event in the natural world that cannot be explained, like an amputated limb regrowing or maybe, say a gamma ray, then the evidence they use to dismiss P1 is the evidence that should actually prove God to them.

          • Michael Murray
          • Science is a wonderful thing, until it starts inverting its method, and proposing metaphysical import to its own methodological limitations.

            This is exactly why science has reached dead ends in particle physics (always excepting the rapidly-diminishing possibility of SUSY partners for Higgs in 2017- hey, it's still possible), in cosmology (the "multiverse", which is asserted despite its insusceptibility, even in principle, of ever being an object of the scientific method), and....well I was going to say in evolution, but that is not science in the first place.

            http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2012/02/marys-bones-part-iii-is-evolution.html

          • thursday

            Be specific. What "nonsense" of yours is supported by the vast majority of the physics community. I don't want all of your "nonsense" just the bit that you claim casts sufficient doubt on P1.

      • M. Solange O’Brien

        No, actually he has stated the issues with P1 quite clearly. Even Craig doesn't claim that P1 is necessarily or logically true. He just thinks we ought to accept it.

  • DonJindra

    "They should believe P1 because they already believe that something cannot come from nothing without a supernatural cause."

    Perhaps most atheists believe the forces and "stuff" of nature simply exist, and exist eternally -- just like Christians believe God simply exists, and exists eternally. The difference is we can be relatively sure nature exists in the here and now.

  • Geena Safire

    My favorite refutations of several arguments for the existence of God are by Scott Clifton, aka Theoretical Bullshit. In addition to thrashing the Kalam, he also takes down apologist Matt Slick and his transcendental argument (TAG).

    Clifton's most recent Kalam debunking is here. This addresses William Lane Craig's approach using his own philosophical logic against him. You'll find other elements of Kalam refuted at Clifton's YouTube channel. You can find several disproofs from others by just searching at YouTube for 'Kalam.'

  • emarkjones .

    I would disagree with the First Premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

    From the evidence that we do not see things coming into existence from nothing we can conclude only that things do not come into existence from nothing, and that is all. Adding the qualifier without a cause is misleading, it is just as valid to add the qualifier with a cause, and there seems to be no reason to add either. We can see this by rewording the First Premise to Nothing begins to exist without a cause. This is supported by experience that things do not pop into existence. However, we may also examine the premise Nothing begins to exist with a cause and see that this is also supported by the same experience that nothing pops into existence. Our experience is that nothing pops into existence without a cause, and nothing pops into existence with a cause, i.e. nothing pops into existence at all.

    The premise ‘Whatever begins to exist requires a cause' is obviously false, from the evidence that is put forward to demonstrate its truthfulness. The evidence supporting the First Premise is that we do not see things coming into existence from nothing and that the premise that Nothing comes from nothing is intuitively correct. However, the statement Everything that comes into existence … presumes that some things can come into existence from nothing, which is a direct contradiction of premise that Nothing comes from nothing and our experience that this is true. Adding the qualifying clause without a cause does not change that contradiction.

  • Macadamius

    Time is measured in several ways which have increased our comprehension of time, such as the year, the four-year Leap Year cycle, the longer cycles of anciently visible planets, and newly discovered planets such as Neptune--the period of which was FIRST measured for the VERY first time just two or three years ago..

    The vastly longer and more mind-boggling rotation of the Galaxy (of which our Solar System but a single star) has never even been observed once and never measured at all. Extrapolating its rotation from barely detectable Galactic parallax or estimates of the speed of the Sun results in estimates for our one star alone, that have only about 20% accuracy.

    That was first attempted only a few decades, about 0.000001% of the entire cycle. No voice on Earth that suggests it's been around the Galaxy is worth listening to.

    It is far more likely, that the Universe never began at all. It is in fact more likely that it never had any kind of beginning as we know it. and never will have an end.

    Essentially nothing of that yet is yet known, compared with what the truth must be. It is a time-domain realm of which everyone on Earth is completely ignorant. It is is so prolonged and large, the human species could evolve many more times into new variations on form before it ever becomes evident how the universe came into existence-if it ever had a beginning at all.

    The entire Earth and its star the Sun could disappear - stars eventually do - and yet the universe goes on and on Perhaps it existed so far into the past that it had no beginning as we know it. It existed longer than knowledge itself has existed. It may never cease to exist. The Universe is probably eternal.

    It's about time for a new word-a word that means "cannot be
    distinguished from eternity." It would be one of those words that are
    rarely used by persons without a couple of Saturns under their belt.
    After all, the new goal in longevity is Neptune-already there are people who have lived more than half of that planet's 165 years..

  • Гусейн Гурбанов Азербайджан

    Logically complete cosmological concept. /due to lack of knowledge of the English language was not able to correct the translation Implemented by Google/

    In order to present the unlimited space originally Elementary:

    1. variety (homogeneous) сompleted - enough to postulate the presence in it of two elements with SIMPLE and COMPLEX /closed systematically manifested the essence/

    2. heterogeneous completed - enough to postulate the presence in it of one more element - the Most High and Almighty God - with open exhibited systemic nature.

    Not hard to imagine that even at the lowest possible deployment intangible components the nature of God - the Spirit of God - for the level of the original downwardly directed continuous deployment the material component of the essence of God, there is a curtailment of SIMPLE and COMPLEX /i.e.. their decay occurs due to blocking of origin upwardly directed constantly deploy components of their intangible essences/, as the maximum possible heterogeneous nature of God to the minimum possible number of cell uniformity (№1h) and God on the basis of the material components of the minimum possible №1 deploys heterogeneous to its essence as possible numerical element uniformity (№2H). The process of clotting №2H begins at a certain point in time God begins at the end of its deployment. Curtailment of the Spirit of God to the level of initial deployment again unfolds №1H - God's potential for transformation into a №1H in №2H and №1H in №2H limitless!