The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

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John J. Bannan
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The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

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THE FOURTEEN COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

By John J. Bannan (5/24/2020)

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. God is the creator of the cosmos. The cosmological arguments prove the existence of God by demonstrating the necessity of a Creator for the cosmos. The cosmological arguments offer good reason through circumstantial evidence taken from the nature of the cosmos itself to believe in God. The following is a listing and explanation of all the known cosmological arguments for the existence of God:

I. THE DICHOTOMY OF EXISTENCE
(BY JOHN J. BANNAN)
The dichotomy of existence proves the existence of God by demonstrating the necessity of an uncaused Creator with the power to create any or all of the infinite potentials for physical reality to the fullest extent logically possible under everythingness. In terms of the uncaused, there are only two possibilities. The first is the uncaused reason for the existence of all physical reality. The second is the uncaused absence of any reality called absolute nothingness. These two are mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive of all logical possibilities forming an abstract metaphysical dichotomy of existence. Because each side of the dichotomy is uncaused, there can be no cause for either of the two being real. Rather, one side is real and the other is not real without reason or necessity. Moreover, an uncaused thing does not have parts, because it would otherwise be caused by those parts. Because an uncaused thing does not have parts, an uncaused thing cannot be destroyed because destruction demands the disassociation of parts. As a result, the side of the dichotomy that is real can never be destroyed, and the other side that is not real can never become real.

Because physical reality can differ in the most minute way logically possible from another potential physical reality, there is no good reason to believe that the uncaused reason for the existence of all physical reality could not also create that potential physical reality. Because this uncaused reason can create this potential physical reality, then it can also create another potential physical reality differing from the former potential physical reality in the most minute way logically possible. Repeating this ad infinitum, this uncaused reason must be capable of creating any or all of the infinite logically possible physical realities called everythingness. Because potential physical realities can be created, there must be a reason for the existence of physical reality and the creation of any or all infinite potential physical realities. This reason must be uncaused, because the creation of any or all physical realities is contingent on this reason which leaves this reason without anything else to cause it.

Because the creation of less than everything that is logically possible is itself a logical possibility falling within everythingness, then this uncaused reason must necessarily be able to decide what to create out of the infinite possibilities for physical reality. This uncaused reason must have knowledge of all the infinite potentials for physical reality, the power to create any or all of these potentials, and a presence to control, sustain, alter or destroy any such creation. Moreover, this uncaused reason must have the greatest decision-making ability logically possible in order to be able to create up to the fullest extent of everythingness. We call this uncaused real side of the dichotomy of existence God.

II. THE FIRST CAUSE ARGUMENT
(BY ST. THOMAS AQUINAS)
The first cause argument proves the existence of God by demonstrating that all causes and effects in the cosmos must ultimately derive from a very first cause we call God. In the cosmos, we observe that for every cause, there is an effect. We also observe that every effect is itself a cause for a subsequent effect. Like a line of falling dominos, the first falling domino causes the fall of the second domino, and the second falling domino causes the fall of the third domino. The cosmos unfolds as a series of causes and effects over time.

Because an infinite regress in time of causes and effects is impossible, there must be a very first cause of the cosmic series of causes and effects. We observe that cause and effect in the cosmos follows an order where A causes B, and B causes C, whether the intermediate cause B is only a single cause or several causes. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there is no cause A, there will be no ultimate cause C, nor any intermediate cause B. But, if an infinite regress in time of causes and effects were possible, there would not be a first cause, and so neither would there be an ultimate cause, nor any intermediate cause. Therefore, the existence of the series of causes and effects over time in the cosmos necessitates a very first cause for the beginning of the series.

The very first cause in the beginning of the cosmic series of causes and effects over time must not itself be caused. If it were caused, then regress would continue backward in time infinitely, which is impossible. Moreover, the very first cause cannot be self-created. It is impossible for a thing to cause itself, because it would have to exist prior to itself. Therefore, the very first cause must itself be uncaused. We call this uncaused first cause God.

Because God is uncaused, God cannot be made of parts. A thing that is made of parts is caused by those parts. God being uncaused cannot Himself be caused by parts. We call this principle that God is not made of parts – divine simplicity. Divine simplicity is a mystery, because we cannot imagine a thing without parts. However, because we know a very first cause is necessary for the cosmos to be created, and we know that this very first cause cannot be made of parts, we know that divine simplicity is real. An ancient classical philosophical truth known as “ex nihilo nihil fit” states that nothing comes from nothing – or that you can’t get something from nothing. Because nothingness cannot create the cosmos, an uncaused very first cause of the cosmos is necessary to which we give the name God.

III. THE FIRST ORDER ARGUMENT
(BY JOHN J. BANNAN)
The first order argument proves the existence of God by demonstrating that the cosmos must have had an initial order created by an uncaused orderless cause we call God. We observe from the cosmos that everything has an order. This order is the relative position or arrangement of things in physical reality at any given moment in time. We observe that this order is caused by an antecedent order, and that this antecedent order is caused by an earlier antecedent order. Because an infinite regress in time of antecedent orders is impossible, there must be a very first order.

We observe that order in the cosmos follows a pattern where order A causes order B, and order B causes order C, whether the intermediate order B is only a single order or a series of consecutive orders. Now to take away order A is to take away order B. Therefore, if there is no order A, there will be no ultimate order C, nor any intermediate order B. But, if an infinite regress in time of consecutive orders were possible, there would not be a first order, and so neither would there be an ultimate order, nor any intermediate order. Therefore, the existence of the series of consecutive orders over time in the cosmos necessitates a very first order for the beginning of the series. This first order requires an orderless cause, because a first order cannot come from nothing. A cause without order is a cause without parts, and therefore must be uncaused because otherwise its parts would be its cause. Because all physical realities possess an order, this orderless cause cannot be any sort of physical reality. We call this uncaused orderless immaterial cause of first order God.

IV. THE BEGINNINGLESS TIME PARADOX
(BY JOHN J. BANNAN)
The beginningless time paradox proves the existence of God by demonstrating that the beginning of time itself must have an uncaused timeless cause we call God. If time in the cosmos had no beginning, then there would be an infinity of prior moments in time before the arrival of the present moment. An infinity of prior moments of time could never be fully traversed, because there would always be a prior moment in time that had not yet been traversed because infinity is unending. If all prior moments in time are not fully traversed, then paradoxically the present moment in time could never arrive. Because the present moment in time does arrive, then time in the cosmos must have had a beginning. Because time must have had a beginning, then time must have been caused to begin from something besides nothing because nothing cannot cause anything.

The cause of the beginning of time not having time for its own cause must therefore be uncaused. Moreover, the cause of time itself cannot be something subject to time, because the existence of anything subject to time is contingent on the existence of time. The beginning of time itself cannot have a physical explanation, because all physical explanations would be subject to time. Accordingly, there must be an uncaused immaterial explanation for the beginning of time itself we call God.

V. THE BEGINNINGLESS CAUSATION PARADOX
(BY JOHN J. BANNAN)
The beginningless causation paradox proves the existence of God by demonstrating that the beginning of causation itself must have an uncaused immaterial cause we call God. If causation in the cosmos had no beginning, then there would be an infinite regression of causation exhausting all possible causes. However, if causation were infinite, then causation could not become exhausted. Therefore, causation cannot be infinite, but must have had a beginning.

The cause of the beginning of causation not having a cause for its own beginning must therefore be uncaused. The beginning of causation itself cannot be a physical explanation, because all physical explanations would be caused. Accordingly, there must be an uncaused immaterial cause for the beginning of causation we call God.

VI. THE PRIME MOVER ARGUMENT
(BY ST. THOMAS AQUINAS)
The prime mover argument proves the existence of God by demonstrating that all motion in the cosmos must ultimately be derived from an unmoved mover we call God. We observe that in the cosmos some things are in motion. Now whatever is moved is moved by another. Things move when potential for motion becomes actual motion. Only an actual motion can convert a potential for motion into an actual motion. Nothing can be in both potentiality and actuality in the same respect simultaneously. If both actual and potential, it is actual in one respect and potential in another respect. Therefore, nothing can move itself.

Each thing in motion is moved by something else. If that by which it is moved be itself moved, then this also needs to be moved by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go onto infinity, because then there would be no first mover. Without a first mover, there would be no movement at all, because all subsequent movers move only inasmuch that they are moved by the first mover. For example, the staff moves only because it is moved by the hand. Therefore, it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, moved by no other; and this we call God.

VII. THE NECESSARY BEING ARGUMENT
(BY ST. THOMAS AQUINAS)
The necessary being argument proves the existence of God by demonstrating that there must be some being we call God that exists out of His own necessity in order for contingent beings to exist in the cosmos. We observe that in the cosmos things come and go into being called contingent beings. Every being is a contingent being, because objects in the cosmos come into being and pass away. Indeed, it is possible for those objects to exist or for those objects not to exist at any given time. For each contingent being, there is a time it does not exist. Therefore, it is impossible for these always to exist. Consequently, there could have been a time when no things existed.

If there were a time when no things existed, there would have been nothing to bring the currently existing contingent beings into existence. Therefore, nothing would be in existence now. Such an absurd result undermines the assumption that all beings are contingent. Therefore, not every being is a contingent being. There must be some being which exists of its own necessity, and does not receive its existence from another being, but rather causes them. We call this necessary being God.

VIII. THE ARGUMENT FROM COMPOSITE PARTS
(BY JOHN J. BANNAN)
The argument from composite parts proves the existence of God by demonstrating that an uncaused singular non-composite we call God is necessary for the existence of all composites in the cosmos. We observe from the cosmos that all composites are caused by their parts. Causation itself is the formation of a composite from parts in physical reality. The cosmos itself is a composite made of parts consisting of each moment in time with its physical reality. We also observe that composites themselves are made of composites. However, a composite cannot be made without parts, and because more than one part is a composite, a single part which causes all composites must be real because composites cannot come from nothing. That single part which causes all composites must be an uncaused non-composite, because parts would otherwise cause it to be a composite. Because all physical reality forms a composite with spacetime, then the single uncaused non-composite cannot be any sort of physical reality. We call this single uncaused immaterial non-composite God.

IX. THE ARGUMENT FROM TIME
(BY JOHN J. BANNAN)
The argument from time proves the existence of God by demonstrating that the existence of time requires an uncaused timeless cause we call God. Time is the creation, destruction and re-creation of physical reality at the smallest scale at relative rates. Because nothing comes from nothing, the cause of time cannot be nothing. Rather, the cause of time must have a cause outside of time. This cause of time must also remember the prior order, placement and time flow of physical reality in order to re-create physical reality at every moment in time. This cause of time not having time for its own cause must therefore be uncaused. However, the cause of time itself cannot be something subject to time, because the existence of anything subject to time is contingent on the existence of time. There are no physical explanations for the beginning of time itself, because all physical explanations would be subject to time. We call this uncaused timeless immaterial cause of time God.

X. THE KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
(BY WILLIAM LANE CRAIG)
The Kalam cosmological argument proves the existence of God by demonstrating that the cosmos had a beginning caused by a personal agent that transcends spacetime we call God. We observe from the cosmos that everything that begins to exist has a cause for its existence. The cosmos began to exist. Therefore, the cosmos has a cause for its existence. The cosmos began to exist, because an actual infinite cannot exist. A beginningless temporal series of events is an actual infinite. Therefore, a beginningless temporal series of events cannot exist.

Actual infinities that neither increase or decrease in the number of members they contain would result in absurd consequences, if they were to exist in reality. For example, a library with an infinite number of books would not be reduced in size at all by the removal of a specific number of books (short of all of them). Or, before the present event could occur the event immediately prior to it would have to occur. But, before that event could occur, the event immediately prior to it would have to occur; and so on ad infinitum. One gets driven back and back into the infinite past, making it impossible for any event to occur. Thus, if the series of past events were beginningless, the present event could not have occurred, which is absurd.

The collection of historical events is formed by successively adding events, one following another. The events are not temporally simultaneous, but occur over a period of time as the series continues to acquire new members. Even if an actual infinite were possible, it could not be realized by successive addition. In adding to the series, no matter how much this is done, even to infinity, the series remains finite and only potentially infinite. One can neither count to nor traverse the infinite.

If something has a finite past, its existence has a cause. The cosmos has a finite past. Therefore, the cosmos has a cause of its existence. Because spacetime originated with the cosmos and therefore has a finite past, the cause of the existence of the cosmos must transcend spacetime. Because the cause of the cosmos’ existence transcends spacetime, no scientific explanation in terms of physical laws can provide a causal account of the origin of the cosmos. Because no scientific explanation can provide a causal account of the origin of the cosmos, then the cause must be a personal agent. If the cause were an eternal, nonpersonal, mechanically operating set of conditions, then the cosmos would exist from eternity. Because the cosmos has not existed from eternity, the cause must be a personal agent we call God who chooses freely to create an effect in time.

XI. THE ARGUMENT FROM SUFFICIENT REASON
(BY GOTTFRIED LEIBNIZ)
The argument from sufficient reason proves the existence of God by demonstrating that an explanation for the existence of the cosmos is necessary, which must be a transcendent God who has within His own nature the necessity of existence. We observe from the cosmos that there must be an explanation, or sufficient reason, for anything that exists. The explanation for whatever exists must lie either in the necessity of its own nature or in a cause external to itself. A sufficient reason for the existence of the cosmos cannot be another contingent thing (and on into infinity), because to explain the existence of any contingent thing by another contingent thing lacks a sufficient reason why any contingent thing exists. The explanation of the existence of the cosmos must lie in a transcendent God, because the cosmos does not have within its own nature the necessity of existence and God does.

XII. THE ARGUMENT FROM ABDUCTION
(BY JOHN J. BANNAN)
The argument from abduction demonstrates that something must be uncaused and the best explanation is an uncaused metaphysical reality we call God. We observe that in the cosmos something has got to be uncaused, otherwise there would be nothing. It is impossible that physical reality is uncaused. Any aspect of physical reality claimed to be uncaused can be eliminated as impossible or ultimately caused, including but not limited to infinite regress, actual infinities, self-creation, time travel, eternality in time, timelessness, and acausal physics. Therefore, the best explanation that remains is an uncaused metaphysical reality we call God.

XIII. THE ARGUMENT FROM GRADATION OF BEING
(BY ST. THOMAS AQUINAS)
The argument from gradation of being proves the existence of God by demonstrating that the existence of all things requires as their cause a maximum being we call God. We observe from the cosmos that there is a gradation to be found in physical reality. Some physical things are better or worse than others. Predications of degree require reference to the uttermost case. For example, a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest. The maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus. Therefore, there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection. We call this God.

XIV. THE ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN
(BY ST. THOMAS AQUINAS)
The argument from design proves the existence of God by demonstrating that non-intelligent natural things must be directed in their purposes by a supernatural intelligent being we call God. We observe from the cosmos that natural bodies work toward some goal, and do not do so by chance. Most natural things lack knowledge. But, as an arrow reaches its target because it is directed by an archer, what lacks intelligence achieves goals by being directed by something intelligent. Therefore, some intelligent being is real by whom all natural things are directed to their end. We call this intelligent being God.

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Re: The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

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Post by bluegreenearth »

I'll respond to the Kalam Cosmological Argument first because it is probably the most popular and most convincing among the apologists:

Numerous professional physicists, astronomers, and cosmologists continue to apply their expertise towards the discovery of a natural explanation for how the universe came into existence. Nevertheless, they continue to unanimously and honestly admit that there is no demonstrable evidence to support any claim regarding the state of universe prior to the "Plank Time." Meanwhile, theists seem to confidently assert that God was responsible for creating the universe as if the all the qualified scientists are just a wasting everyone's time.

The reason many apologists rely upon an argument like the Kalam is because it artificially resolves the need for cognitive closure. In general, people are discomforted by the lack of an answer to a profound question. This often motivates people to accept almost any explanation as long as it feels satisfactory. The tendency to settle for an easy answer over no answer is a form of cognitive bias we all share. To complicate things further, humans have evolved a habit of perceiving agency where none may actually exist. The cumulative effect is to stack the deck in favor of easily digestible propositions regardless of whether they can be tested or not.

Concluding that the universe had a cause is not necessarily controversial. Because we don't observe universes popping into existence from nowhere, the reasonable conclusion must be that our universe had a cause. The scientists who investigate the properties of the universe acknowledge that something caused the quantum material at hour zero to suddenly expand and subsequently evolve to become the observable universe. What makes the theistic versions of the Cosmological Argument controversial is the audacity required to assert that such a cause can be known through reasoning alone. Nevertheless, let's examine the Kalam Cosmological Argument for what it is.

In premise 1, the phrase "begins to exist" is strategically chosen to invoke the intuitive concept of something being created. For instance, a chair began to exist after it was assembled by a person. However, what actually happened was that the chair was constructed from previously existing and naturally occurring materials which were then rearranged by a person into a functional object. Everything observed in the entire universe exists as a rearrangement of pre-existing natural materials regardless of whether they were assembled by humans or through natural processes. This distinction is important because the Kalam intends for "begins to exist" to mean the creation of raw material from absolute nothingness despite the fact that such a phenomenon has no observable precedent.

While it may be intuitive to view the universe as resulting from a long causality chain, theists are drawing a conclusion about existence which has never been observed. So, apologists must first produce a comprehensive list of material things which were observed as having come into existence from absolutely no pre-existing substances. From there, they would have a baseline by which to compare and subsequently infer a possible cause. In other words, until we observe something cause a material substance to begin to exist from absolutely nothing, we can't simply assert such a thing is possible let alone serve as the cause for everything in the universe. Even if a God was demonstrated to exist, we couldn't know such a deity was responsible for creating the universe without first observing that it was possible for him to produce a material substance from absolutely nothing. At this point, apologists might be tempted to point out that God is defined as having the ability to create something from nothing. Unfortunately, though, we can't just arbitrarily define God into existence without the tactic being immediately identified as logically fallacious.

Apologists often respond by claiming the cause of the universe must exist beyond space and time because all space-time began with the universe. From there, they deduce the cause must either be an abstract object or intelligent mind since no other things could exist outside space-time. Apart from the fact that abstract objects don't exist anywhere outside a thinking brain, they can't be the cause of anything. Apologists capitalize on that fact to insist that the only possible option is for the universe to have been created by a transcendent intelligent mind. Of course, they conveniently ignore the fact that an intelligent mind has never been demonstrated to exist apart from a physical brain. Likewise, they fail to demonstrate how a disembodied mind is any more capable of being a cause than an abstract object. Last time I checked, there has never been a validated circumstance where a sentient being was able to cause something to happen in the external world just by thinking about it. Thus, the entire concept is incoherent. In any case, the whole argument is a non-sequitur because the potential existence of a space-time boundary for the universe does not require "nothing" to precede it. Our current inability to measure or understand the state of the universe prior to the Big Bang does not automatically validate the God hypothesis as the only alternative explanation. It doesn't follow that a supernatural intelligence was necessary.

So, the Kalam Cosmological Argument is revealed to be nothing more than a God of the gaps fallacy. It contradicts itself by first asserting that nothing existed prior to the formation of the universe then concludes God (a something) existed prior to the formation of the universe. Most importantly, it makes no verifiable predictions. Even if we irresponsibly accepted the fallacious argument, we are still no closer to understanding how the universe was created, what being or beings were responsible, or what functional impact it could have on any decisions we could make in the reality we all experience.
Last edited by bluegreenearth on Fri Jun 05, 2020 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

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Post by Kylie »

I find all of those arguments to be quite weak. Most of them are just restating the same thing, and those that are different are just, "Something has to be responsible, let's say it's God."

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Re: The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

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Post by The Tanager »

I know this is old, but I'm just starting to get back more fully on this new version of the site.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:26 pmIn premise 1, the phrase "begins to exist" is strategically chosen to invoke the intuitive concept of something being created. For instance, a chair began to exist after it was assembled by a person. However, what actually happened was that the chair was constructed from previously existing and naturally occurring materials which were then rearranged by a person into a functional object. Everything observed in the entire universe exists as a rearrangement of pre-existing natural materials regardless of whether they were assembled by humans or through natural processes. This distinction is important because the Kalam intends for "begins to exist" to mean the creation of raw material from absolute nothingness despite the fact that such a phenomenon has no observable precedent.
Some proponents may intend that meaning for "begins to exist," but it isn't necessarily so. Things can begin to exist both ex nihilo and as transformation of material already present.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:26 pmWhile it may be intuitive to view the universe as resulting from a long causality chain, theists are drawing a conclusion about existence which has never been observed. So, apologists must first produce a comprehensive list of material things which were observed as having come into existence from absolutely no pre-existing substances. From there, they would have a baseline by which to compare and subsequently infer a possible cause.
Why is this required? We know there are two ways for something to begin to exist. The one way we have direct experience with is always caused. The other way takes away something from what we have experience with (material pre-existing). Why would taking that away make it more likely that there would be no cause involved? It seems it would make it less likely.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:26 pmIn other words, until we observe something cause a material substance to begin to exist from absolutely nothing, we can't simply assert such a thing is possible...
What is wrong with asserting something as logically possible? In doing so, one is not saying it actually exists, just that it isn't logically ruled out. We don't need to observe a unicorn before asserting the logical possibility of a horse-like creature with a horn.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:26 pm...let alone serve as the cause for everything in the universe. Even if a God was demonstrated to exist, we couldn't know such a deity was responsible for creating the universe without first observing that it was possible for him to produce a material substance from absolutely nothing. At this point, apologists might be tempted to point out that God is defined as having the ability to create something from nothing. Unfortunately, though, we can't just arbitrarily define God into existence without the tactic being immediately identified as logically fallacious.
The Kalam does not simply assert God as the cause for everything in the universe; God is argued to. Neither does the Kalam beg such a definition of God.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:26 pmApologists often respond by claiming the cause of the universe must exist beyond space and time because all space-time began with the universe. From there, they deduce the cause must either be an abstract object or intelligent mind since no other things could exist outside space-time. Apart from the fact that abstract objects don't exist anywhere outside a thinking brain, they can't be the cause of anything. Apologists capitalize on that fact to insist that the only possible option is for the universe to have been created by a transcendent intelligent mind. Of course, they conveniently ignore the fact that an intelligent mind has never been demonstrated to exist apart from a physical brain.
They don't ignore that, they see it as irrelevant. The apologist is using a line of reasoning to reach a conclusion. Rather than showing the flaw in that line of reasoning you are saying they have to reach the conclusion in a different way. Why? Why does our observance of minds requiring physical brains, given our limits of observation, outweigh a separate argument that points to reality as we know it needing an unembodied mind to make sense?
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:26 pmLikewise, they fail to demonstrate how a disembodied mind is any more capable of being a cause than an abstract object. Last time I checked, there has never been a validated circumstance where a sentient being was able to cause something to happen in the external world just by thinking about it. Thus, the entire concept is incoherent.
A lack of observation is not the same thing as being incoherent. And you keep on requiring physical observation as the only way to establish something without any good argument as to why that is the case. Show this is more than an assumption on your part.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:26 pmIn any case, the whole argument is a non-sequitur because the potential existence of a space-time boundary for the universe does not require "nothing" to precede it.
There is nothing about the Kalam that requires a belief that there was no state of the universe prior to the Big Bang. Apologists sometimes appeal to Occam's Razor (and lack of scientific evidence to the contrary) to argue for no prior physical state, but if there is a prior state the Kalam doesn't fall apart.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:26 pmOur current inability to measure or understand the state of the universe prior to the Big Bang does not automatically validate the God hypothesis as the only alternative explanation. It doesn't follow that a supernatural intelligence was necessary.

So, the Kalam Cosmological Argument is revealed to be nothing more than a God of the gaps fallacy.
Show where the formulations and explanations of the most prevalent academic treatments of the Kalam do such a thing.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:26 pmIt contradicts itself by first asserting that nothing existed prior to the formation of the universe then concludes God (a something) existed prior to the formation of the universe.
Where does it do that? Quote it.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:26 pmMost importantly, it makes no verifiable predictions.
Why does it need to?
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:26 pmEven if we irresponsibly accepted the fallacious argument, we are still no closer to understanding how the universe was created, what being or beings were responsible, or what functional impact it could have on any decisions we could make in the reality we all experience.
Why is that a problem? The Kalam doesn't intend to explain how the universe was created (assuming you mean the scientific explanations of everything). And it does tell us some things about the being(s) responsible. Further analysis gives us some impact such a conclusion would have on some of our decisions (like that God exists).

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Re: The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

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Post by bluegreenearth »

The Tanager wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:25 pmSome proponents may intend that meaning for "begins to exist," but it isn't necessarily so. Things can begin to exist both ex nihilo and as transformation of material already present.
I'm not aware of something that began to exist ex nihilo. Would you please give an example? Without this demonstration, I cannot accept the assertion that "things can begin to exist both ex nihilo and as transformation of material already present."
The Tanager wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:25 pmWhy is this required? We know there are two ways for something to begin to exist. The one way we have direct experience with is always caused. The other way takes away something from what we have experience with (material pre-existing). Why would taking that away make it more likely that there would be no cause involved? It seems it would make it less likely.
The theist who abuses the Kalam to support the empirical claim that God created the physical universe ex nihilo has a burden of proof to demonstrate the empirical possibility of creating a material substance from nothing.
The Tanager wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:25 pmWhat is wrong with asserting something as logically possible? In doing so, one is not saying it actually exists, just that it isn't logically ruled out. We don't need to observe a unicorn before asserting the logical possibility of a horse-like creature with a horn.
There is nothing wrong with acknowledging a logical possibility, but theists are making an empirical claim when they abuse the Kalam to conclude that God created the material universe. Empirical claims require support from empirical evidence. Logical possibility isn't enough.
The Tanager wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:25 pmThe Kalam does not simply assert God as the cause for everything in the universe; God is argued to. Neither does the Kalam beg such a definition of God.
Allow me to clarify: The Kalam merely concludes that the observable universe had a cause, but theists abuse the Kalam to assert that this cause was the God they define as having the ability to create the observable universe.
The Tanager wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:25 pmThey don't ignore that, they see it as irrelevant. The apologist is using a line of reasoning to reach a conclusion. Rather than showing the flaw in that line of reasoning you are saying they have to reach the conclusion in a different way. Why? Why does our observance of minds requiring physical brains, given our limits of observation, outweigh a separate argument that points to reality as we know it needing an unembodied mind to make sense?
First, the empirical claim that God created the physical universe does not necessarily follow from the conclusion of the Kalam. Second, the reason our observance of minds requiring physical brains limits what we can conclude about the cause of the universe is because we are engaged in an empirical investigation when considering what caused material substances to begin existing. Once someone demonstrates the empirical possibility of a mind existing without a physical brain of some type and an ability for that mind to create material substances from nothing, we will then have a justification to expand the list of candidate causes of the material universe to include an unembodied mind. Until then, we can merely entertain ourselves with endless speculation on the logical possibility in a philosophical context but have no mechanism by which to know if the claim corresponds with our physical reality or not. You are welcome to wax philosophical all you want, but I find it more helpful to investigate explanations that can be demonstrated to actually exist in our physical reality.
The Tanager wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:25 pmA lack of observation is not the same thing as being incoherent. And you keep on requiring physical observation as the only way to establish something without any good argument as to why that is the case. Show this is more than an assumption on your part.
Once again, we are investigating an empirical claim when considering the cause of the physical universe. As such, we should at least require implicit empirical evidence to support the claim as a possible candidate for the cause of the physical universe. Philosophical speculation is not enough.
The Tanager wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:25 pmThere is nothing about the Kalam that requires a belief that there was no state of the universe prior to the Big Bang. Apologists sometimes appeal to Occam's Razor (and lack of scientific evidence to the contrary) to argue for no prior physical state, but if there is a prior state the Kalam doesn't fall apart.
Indeed, the Kalam does not require there to be nothing prior to the Big Bang, but most forms of theism make the empirical claim that God created the material universe ex nihilo. As such, the cosmological arguments theists derive from their abuse of the Kalam is a non sequitur.
The Tanager wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:25 pmShow where the formulations and explanations of the most prevalent academic treatments of the Kalam do such a thing.
I'm familiar with some of the "theistic" treatments of the Kalam but not sure if those are the same as the "academic" treatments you are referencing. However, I've already indicated that the Kalam, by itself, does not necessarily constitute a God-of-the-gaps fallacy because it merely concludes that the universe had a cause.
The Tanager wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:25 pmWhere does it do that? Quote it.
The theistic cosmological arguments derived from an abuse of the Kalam contradict themselves by first asserting that something material cannot be created from nothing then concludes God created the material universe from nothing. Unless theists want to modify their argument to claim God created the material universe from uncaused material that co-existed with and separately from himself outside of space-time or that God is comprised of uncaused material from which he donated some portion of himself towards the creation of the material universe, their versions of the cosmological argument will remain self-contradictory.
The Tanager wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:25 pmWhy does it need to?
Empirical claims must make novel testable predictions if they are to be accepted as the most reasonable explanation for an observed physical phenomenon. In this case, the observed physical phenomenon is the existence of the material universe. Philosophical claims need not make novel testable predictions, but philosophical arguments alone cannot demonstrate something exists outside the conceptual realm and in an empirical reality.
The Tanager wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:25 pmWhy is that a problem? The Kalam doesn't intend to explain how the universe was created (assuming you mean the scientific explanations of everything). And it does tell us some things about the being(s) responsible. Further analysis gives us some impact such a conclusion would have on some of our decisions (like that God exists).
Here again, my objection applies to the theistic cosmological arguments that are derived from an abuse of the Kalam. Concluding God as the cause of the universe is a pragmatic problem because the primary reason for investigating any empirical claim is to use that knowledge to inform our decisions on the expectation of predictable outcomes. This is what ensures our survival. It is reliably consistent empirical knowledge that allows us to avoid a premature death and plan ahead for a desirable future. Even if theists were to irrefutably show the universe was created by an intelligent supernatural agent, that Information neither explains how the universe was created nor demonstrates whether the creator does or does not have a personal interest in our individual lives. Sure, in that scenario, atheists would no longer have a justifiable reason to lack belief in the existence of a creator. Nevertheless, there would equally be no justification for concluding that Christianity or any other theological model is accurate or reliable. Meanwhile, despite having the irrefutable evidence of the universe being a creation, science would remain our best and most dependable method for acquiring new empirical knowledge about the physical properties of the "created" universe.

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Re: The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

Post #6

Post by The Tanager »

bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:17 pmThere is nothing wrong with acknowledging a logical possibility, but theists are making an empirical claim when they abuse the Kalam to conclude that God created the material universe. Empirical claims require support from empirical evidence. Logical possibility isn't enough.
The Kalam does not rely on logical possibility for its conclusion. It relies on things like empirical observations about causation, an analysis of the nature of spacetime, and an analysis of what a cause of spacetime would logically have to be like.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:17 pmAllow me to clarify: The Kalam merely concludes that the observable universe had a cause, but theists abuse the Kalam to assert that this cause was the God they define as having the ability to create the observable universe.
Theists largely do not simply assert God is the cause through such a definition. They analyze what the cause of the universe would have to be like. They then take these characteristics and see the God of classical theism as the concept that shares these characteristics.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:17 pmSecond, the reason our observance of minds requiring physical brains limits what we can conclude about the cause of the universe is because we are engaged in an empirical investigation when considering what caused material substances to begin existing. Once someone demonstrates the empirical possibility of a mind existing without a physical brain of some type and an ability for that mind to create material substances from nothing, we will then have a justification to expand the list of candidate causes of the material universe to include an unembodied mind. Until then, we can merely entertain ourselves with endless speculation on the logical possibility in a philosophical context but have no mechanism by which to know if the claim corresponds with our physical reality or not. You are welcome to wax philosophical all you want, but I find it more helpful to investigate explanations that can be demonstrated to actually exist in our physical reality.
I may not be understanding your exact point here. You don't seem to be asking for the empirical possibility, but the empirical actuality. It is not empirically impossible for a mind to exist without a brain. We can't rule such a thing out. You seem, therefore, to be asking for empirical proof that X exists before considering evidence for whether X exists. That's incoherent.

Or perhaps you are saying physical empirical evidence is the only kind of evidence that holds any weight? If so, I would ask: why do you assert that?
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:17 pmI'm familiar with some of the "theistic" treatments of the Kalam but not sure if those are the same as the "academic" treatments you are referencing.
I'm referring to things like peer-reviewed treatments (books, journals, etc.) rather than just anyone on the internet. Books and journals won't catch all the bad philosophy, but hopefully it will catch a good amount of it.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:17 pmThe theistic cosmological arguments derived from an abuse of the Kalam contradict themselves by first asserting that something material cannot be created from nothing then concludes God created the material universe from nothing. Unless theists want to modify their argument to claim God created the material universe from uncaused material that co-existed with and separately from himself outside of space-time or that God is comprised of uncaused material from which he donated some portion of himself towards the creation of the material universe, their versions of the cosmological argument will remain self-contradictory.
The theists (and non-theists, for that matter) worth listening to reason to conclusions, they don't simply assert things like you keep claiming they do. They do not claim that material cannot be created from nothing. Therefore, they aren't contradicting themselves like you claim. There is nothing illogical about material being created ex nihilo. The Kalam is an argument (not an assertion) that spacetime must have been created ex nihilo at some point. Theists claim that if such a thing is true, then it is not rational to believe it just popped into existence without any cause. They claim that it is not rational to think an impersonal force would do such a thing, either.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:17 pmEmpirical claims must make novel testable predictions if they are to be accepted as the most reasonable explanation for an observed physical phenomenon. In this case, the observed physical phenomenon is the existence of the material universe. Philosophical claims need not make novel testable predictions, but philosophical arguments alone cannot demonstrate something exists outside the conceptual realm and in an empirical reality.
This is just restating your claim. Why must the conclusion of the apologists, working off of the Kalam, make novel, testable prediction to be accepted as the most reasonable explanation?
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:17 pmConcluding God as the cause of the universe is a pragmatic problem because the primary reason for investigating any empirical claim is to use that knowledge to inform our decisions on the expectation of predictable outcomes. This is what ensures our survival.
You seem to be saying scientific knowledge is the only thing worth pursuing. If so, then why? I'm not saying science isn't great or that we shouldn't seek scientific knowledge to inform those kinds of decisions. It's not the only end in life, though. Certainly we shouldn't ignore science, but we can do other things along with science and still survive.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:17 pmIt is reliably consistent empirical knowledge that allows us to avoid a premature death and plan ahead for a desirable future.
Science can't tell us what future to plan for, what purpose we have in life. Science is a tool. It's not the only tool in life.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:17 pmEven if theists were to irrefutably show the universe was created by an intelligent supernatural agent, that Information neither explains how the universe was created nor demonstrates whether the creator does or does not have a personal interest in our individual lives. Sure, in that scenario, atheists would no longer have a justifiable reason to lack belief in the existence of a creator. Nevertheless, there would equally be no justification for concluding that Christianity or any other theological model is accurate or reliable.
So? We don't need to know everything about the beginning of the universe to live and thrive. I still applaud scientific investigations into this. No theist claims the Kalam tells us the desires of the creator beyond that it wanted to create us. But it's a step towards such an answer. Other arguments and reasonings follow that train further.
bluegreenearth wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:17 pmMeanwhile, despite having the irrefutable evidence of the universe being a creation, science would remain our best and most dependable method for acquiring new empirical knowledge about the physical properties of the "created" universe.
I completely agree. I don't see why you think it is an either/or kind of thing.

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Re: The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

Post #7

Post by bluegreenearth »

The Tanager wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:14 pmThe Kalam does not rely on logical possibility for its conclusion. It relies on things like empirical observations about causation, an analysis of the nature of spacetime, and an analysis of what a cause of spacetime would logically have to be like.
I've already indicated that my objection applies to the theist's cosmological argument and not the Kalam itself. It is my understanding that the Kalam merely concludes that the material universe had a cause. It does not identify the cause as a personal God or anything else.
The Tanager wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:14 pmTheists largely do not simply assert God is the cause through such a definition. They analyze what the cause of the universe would have to be like. They then take these characteristics and see the God of classical theism as the concept that shares these characteristics.
It doesn't logically follow from the Kalam that the cause of the material universe had to be a personal agent, but I can understand how confirmation bias could lead a theist to that conclusion. This is why it is important for people to critically examine their own reasoning processes and ask the hard questions before claiming to know things such as the most likely cause of the universe. Having once been a theist myself, I understand how an emotional investment in a religious ideology could tempt people to overstate their case. However, as much as they want a justification for their belief in a divinely created universe, theists should demonstrate some humility and accept that the Kalam isn't going to give it to them. I don't know if we will ever discover the cause of the physical universe, but settling on a philosophical argument for the sake of propping up theism or satisfying an urgent need for cognitive closure would be intellectually lazy and dishonest.
The Tanager wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:14 pmI may not be understanding your exact point here. You don't seem to be asking for the empirical possibility, but the empirical actuality. It is not empirically impossible for a mind to exist without a brain. We can't rule such a thing out. You seem, therefore, to be asking for empirical proof that X exists before considering evidence for whether X exists. That's incoherent.

Or perhaps you are saying physical empirical evidence is the only kind of evidence that holds any weight? If so, I would ask: why do you assert that?
We determine the most reasonable explanation for an observed phenomenon by first evaluating if anything known could plausibly serve as an explanation. In other words, we explain the unknown in terms of the known. Imagine that I walk into my kitchen to find a broken ceramic cup on the floor by the table. The broken cup is the observed phenomenon that requires an explanation. Do I immediately presume an invisible gremlin caused the cup to fall and break on the floor? After all, it is logically possible for an invisible gremlin to break my ceramic cup. No. I have no empirical evidence for the existence of invisible gremlins to know if they could cause anything to happen in the physical universe. Instead, I begin by considering what I already know to be empirically possible. I know my cat exists and has been previously observed jumping onto the kitchen table. I also know that bears exist and have been previously observed scavenging for food in people's homes where they could easily knock a cup off the table. Given the three logically possible explanations, only two of them have an implicit empirical basis and only one is the most reasonable to believe. I reject the invisible gremlin explanation because it has no implicit empirical basis and ruled-out the scavenging bear explanation because no bears have ever been observed in my neighborhood. This leaves the cat as the most reasonable explanation for the broken cup. Does this reasoning prove the cat did it? No, but it demonstrates the cat to be the most reasonable explanation.

Now, let's imagine that a cat doesn't live in my house. Does the scavenging bear become the most reasonable explanation in this scenario? No. While there is empirical evidence for the existence of bears in other areas of the country, I have no empirical evidence of bears existing in my neighborhood. Therefore, I must search for other more reasonable and empirically possible explanations to consider. For instance, I know that there have been moments in my past where I would carelessly place something fragile on the edge of a table while rushing out the house. Therefore, it isn't unreasonable to believe that I could have been the cause of the broken cup without realizing it. Once again, this reasoning doesn't prove I was responsible for accidentally and unknowingly breaking my own cup, but it demonstrates it to be the most reasonable explanation. Of course, if I discover new empirical evidence later indicating a bear had found its way into my house (i.e. bear claw marks, fur, and paw prints), the bear explanation would then become the more reasonable explanation.

Finally, I'll change the scenario to where I am unable to identify an empirically possible explanation for the broken cup. Does the invisible gremlin now become the most likely explanation? Well, what about a magical pink unicorn or an extra-terrestrial alien invader causing the cup to break? How do we rule-out those as candidate explanations? Could God have been responsible for breaking my cup as a clue to his existence? How could we rule-out that explanation? There are an infinite number of other logically possible but nondemonstrable explanations for how the cup could have been broken, and none of them can be ruled-out. At this point, you should be able to comprehend why it would be intellectually dishonest for me to endorse any one of those logically possible but nondemonstrable explanations.

So, I'm not "asking for empirical proof that X exists before considering evidence for whether X exists." I'm asking for empirical evidence for the existence of X as a possible cause of Y because the argument is making the empirical claim that X is the cause of Y. Otherwise, X is no more reasonable than Z , W, or any other non-demonstrable candidate for the cause of Y.
The Tanager wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:14 pmI'm referring to things like peer-reviewed treatments (books, journals, etc.) rather than just anyone on the internet. Books and journals won't catch all the bad philosophy, but hopefully it will catch a good amount of it.
I evaluate any argument someone gives me in defense of a belief. If you have a particular version of the Kalam you would like me to consider, by all means, present it in this thread.
The Tanager wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:14 pmThe theists (and non-theists, for that matter) worth listening to reason to conclusions, they don't simply assert things like you keep claiming they do. They do not claim that material cannot be created from nothing. Therefore, they aren't contradicting themselves like you claim. There is nothing illogical about material being created ex nihilo. The Kalam is an argument (not an assertion) that spacetime must have been created ex nihilo at some point. Theists claim that if such a thing is true, then it is not rational to believe it just popped into existence without any cause. They claim that it is not rational to think an impersonal force would do such a thing, either.
You indicate that theists worth listening to "do not claim that material cannot be created from nothing." Opinion noted, but I evaluate the arguments people give me and have received the "something cannot come from nothing" premise from theists more times than I can count on all my fingers and toes. Also, the Kalam only argues that space-time and matter had a cause but nothing about anything being created ex nihilo.
The Tanager wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:14 pmThis is just restating your claim. Why must the conclusion of the apologists, working off of the Kalam, make novel, testable prediction to be accepted as the most reasonable explanation?
Because, without making novel testable predictions, apologists can't know if their conclusion is anything more than something they are imagining. There are many imaginary but logically possible explanations that could function as the most reasonable explanation for something, but we have no way to know if those imaginary explanations correspond to realty if they can't be used to make novel testable predictions. In my earlier analogy, I could have concluded that the invisible gremlin was the most reasonable explanation for the broken cup in the absence of a more reasonable empirically possible explanation, but how would I be able to know the invisible gremlin isn't just an imaginary concept that was created to explain the broken cup? At least with the cat explanation, I could make a prediction that the cat would knock another cup off the table and then observe if the prediction was accurate. When the cat does eventually knocks another cup off the table, I'll know that the cat explanation was more than just something I imagined as being the most reasonable explanation.
The Tanager wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:14 pmYou seem to be saying scientific knowledge is the only thing worth pursuing. If so, then why? I'm not saying science isn't great or that we shouldn't seek scientific knowledge to inform those kinds of decisions. It's not the only end in life, though. Certainly we shouldn't ignore science, but we can do other things along with science and still survive.
It was not my intention to imply that scientific knowledge was the only thing worth pursuing. Science is just the most demonstrably reliable method we have for acquiring knowledge about the physical universe.
The Tanager wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:14 pmScience can't tell us what future to plan for, what purpose we have in life. Science is a tool. It's not the only tool in life.
I neither recall making those claims nor understand their relevance to this discussion. Nevertheless, your perspective is noted.
The Tanager wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:14 pmSo? We don't need to know everything about the beginning of the universe to live and thrive. I still applaud scientific investigations into this. No theist claims the Kalam tells us the desires of the creator beyond that it wanted to create us. But it's a step towards such an answer. Other arguments and reasonings follow that train further.
As I previously indicated, it is my understanding of the Kalam that it doesn't conclude the cause of the universe was a personal creator at all. It merely concludes that the observable universe had cause.
The Tanager wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:14 pmI completely agree. I don't see why you think it is an either/or kind of thing.
I don't recall claiming it was an either/or kind of thing.

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Re: The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

Post #8

Post by The Tanager »

First, I want to note that I was not trying to put words in your mouth that you weren't meaning. I was trying to understand your points, sharing how they seemed to me (for instance "You seem to be saying scientific knowledge is the only thing worth pursuing. If so..." with the remainder of my post still within that conditional understanding), and offering you a chance to correct any misunderstandings.
bluegreenearth wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:01 pmIt doesn't logically follow from the Kalam that the cause of the material universe had to be a personal agent, but I can understand how confirmation bias could lead a theist to that conclusion. This is why it is important for people to critically examine their own reasoning processes and ask the hard questions before claiming to know things such as the most likely cause of the universe. Having once been a theist myself, I understand how an emotional investment in a religious ideology could tempt people to overstate their case. However, as much as they want a justification for their belief in a divinely created universe, theists should demonstrate some humility and accept that the Kalam isn't going to give it to them. I don't know if we will ever discover the cause of the physical universe, but settling on a philosophical argument for the sake of propping up theism or satisfying an urgent need for cognitive closure would be intellectually lazy and dishonest.
Theists like Craig make arguments, though. It is important to critically examine the arguments they give for their conclusions. I see you sharing a conclusion (it's confirmation bias), but not the exact reasons that have gotten you there.
bluegreenearth wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:01 pmWe determine the most reasonable explanation for an observed phenomenon by first evaluating if anything known could plausibly serve as an explanation....
But what if we find that nothing known can plausibly serve as an explanation? Now, I don't mean this allows one to put one's desired answer into the gap. I mean that the known things are ruled out.
bluegreenearth wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:01 pmFinally, I'll change the scenario to where I am unable to identify an empirically possible explanation for the broken cup. Does the invisible gremlin now become the most likely explanation? Well, what about a magical pink unicorn or an extra-terrestrial alien invader causing the cup to break? How do we rule-out those as candidate explanations? Could God have been responsible for breaking my cup as a clue to his existence? How could we rule-out that explanation? There are an infinite number of other logically possible but nondemonstrable explanations for how the cup could have been broken, and none of them can be ruled-out. At this point, you should be able to comprehend why it would be intellectually dishonest for me to endorse any one of those logically possible but nondemonstrable explanations.
The theists rule out various candidates through their argument. They may be wrong, but I want to see your specific reasons for thinking so. I realize this requires a specific argument to counter and that you have been talking on a more general level so far.
bluegreenearth wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:01 pmSo, I'm not "asking for empirical proof that X exists before considering evidence for whether X exists." I'm asking for empirical evidence for the existence of X as a possible cause of Y because the argument is making the empirical claim that X is the cause of Y. Otherwise, X is no more reasonable than Z , W, or any other non-demonstrable candidate for the cause of Y.
The theistic argument is that the cause of Y would need to have the characteristics of A, B, C, etc. This rules out certain possibilities for X, such as material options among others. After this ruling-out process, the theist says the best/only alternative left is what humans have traditionally called God (in the classical theist since). To counter them, one needs to find a flaw in the ruling out process or offer other alternatives that fit just as nicely.
bluegreenearth wrote: Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:01 pmI evaluate any argument someone gives me in defense of a belief. If you have a particular version of the Kalam you would like me to consider, by all means, present it in this thread.
I would love to explore the argument with you. I think we will both be challenged. Craig's formulation would be my suggestion to guide our exploration:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
4. If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful.
5. Therefore, an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful.

Are you wanting to cover all five premises, or assume the Kalam's three are true and just analyze the theistic extensions into 4 and 5? Once I know that, I can provide the supports for you to specifically object to.

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Re: The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

Post #9

Post by bluegreenearth »

The Tanager wrote: Sun Jul 05, 2020 4:20 pmTheists like Craig make arguments, though. It is important to critically examine the arguments they give for their conclusions. I see you sharing a conclusion (it's confirmation bias), but not the exact reasons that have gotten you there.
Since the Kalam concludes that the observable universe has a cause and nothing about what the cause could be, confirmation bias is the most reasonable explanations for how a theist concluded the cause was their God.
The Tanager wrote: Sun Jul 05, 2020 4:20 pmBut what if we find that nothing known can plausibly serve as an explanation? Now, I don't mean this allows one to put one's desired answer into the gap. I mean that the known things are ruled out.
When all the known things are ruled out, the next logical step is to test other falsifiable hypotheses. For example, imagine a group of wildlife biologists come across an animal's footprint in the mud. First, they consider if any known animal could make a footprint like that but find no match. Next, they consider the possibility that the footprint was made by an unknown species. They may not know precisely what this new species of animal might be but could speculate based on the properties of the footprint. After measuring the size, shape, and depth of the footprint, the scientists predict that they will discover a new species of rodent in the area with a foot that matches this print. After some time, they finally observe the animal and discover their prediction was correct.

Now, let's consider a scenario where the footprint was so strange that the wildlife biologists have no clue at all about what kind of creature could have left a footprint like that. In this case, the only thing the scientists can do is wait around to see if they can observe the creature making this type of footprint. Speculating on the existence of an imaginary creature is of no practical value. Until the creature is observed, the only intellectually honest thing to do is remain agnostic about the identity of the animal who made the footprint.
The Tanager wrote: Sun Jul 05, 2020 4:20 pmThe theists rule out various candidates through their argument. They may be wrong, but I want to see your specific reasons for thinking so. I realize this requires a specific argument to counter and that you have been talking on a more general level so far.

The theistic argument is that the cause of Y would need to have the characteristics of A, B, C, etc. This rules out certain possibilities for X, such as material options among others. After this ruling-out process, the theist says the best/only alternative left is what humans have traditionally called God (in the classical theist since). To counter them, one needs to find a flaw in the ruling out process or offer other alternatives that fit just as nicely.
It only rules out the material option where the material is that which emerged within the observable universe immediately after the Big Bang. Even then, we can't know what the state of the universe was prior to the Big Bang. We have no idea what (if anything) exists outside the boundaries of the observable universe. What it means for something to exist outside of space-time doesn't even make sense because the concept of existence entails space and time.
The Tanager wrote: Sun Jul 05, 2020 4:20 pmI would love to explore the argument with you. I think we will both be challenged. Craig's formulation would be my suggestion to guide our exploration:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
4. If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful.
5. Therefore, an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful.

Are you wanting to cover all five premises, or assume the Kalam's three are true and just analyze the theistic extensions into 4 and 5? Once I know that, I can provide the supports for you to specifically object to.
Unfortunately, there are some nuances I need clarified in a few of the premises.

1. Everything that we subjectively declare as having begun to exist has a cause. Technically, everything we perceive as having begun to exist is composed of fundamental particles that were already in existence. We've never actually observed the fundamental particles beginning to exist to know they began to exist. We just colloquially refer to the reconfiguration of existing fundamental particles as something beginning to exist. Is there evidence to suggest the fundamental particles of which everything is composed began to exist (not a rhetorical question; I really don't know)?

2. How can we know the universe began to exist? If we can't know the state of the universe or cosmos prior to the Big Bang, what is the justification for presuming that it began to exist? Are we just focusing on the state of the universe at the moment of the Big Bang and declaring it to be the beginning of the universe? If so, what is the logical justification for ignoring the unknown state of the universe or cosmos prior to the moment of the Big Bang?

3. If we are actually asking what caused the Big Bang rather than what caused the universe, doesn't the inability to know the state of the universe or cosmos prior to the Big Bang make it impossible for us to determine the cause of the Big Bang with any level of confidence?

4. It doesn't follow from the premises that the cause of the Big Bang was a personal creator.

5. Therefore, it doesn't follow that a personal creator of the universe exists.

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Re: The Fourteen Cosmological Arguments for the Existence of God

Post #10

Post by The Tanager »

bluegreenearth wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 2:34 amUnfortunately, there are some nuances I need clarified in a few of the premises.
That's not unfortunate at all; it is needed and expected. I have kept every point you made and will address them in time, but I prefer analyzing an argument methodically, one point at a time. So:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
bluegreenearth wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 2:34 am1. Everything that we subjectively declare as having begun to exist has a cause. Technically, everything we perceive as having begun to exist is composed of fundamental particles that were already in existence. We've never actually observed the fundamental particles beginning to exist to know they began to exist. We just colloquially refer to the reconfiguration of existing fundamental particles as something beginning to exist.
I don't see this premise as making that distinction. Even though the fundamental particles were already in existence, the chair begins to exist. Logically, things can begin to exist in (at least) two ways: ex nihilo and as reconfigurations of more fundamental particles. This premise isn't specifying one of those two ways.

One of your objections is that we don't even know if ex nihilo beginnings can actually occur. I don't see how this is relevant to this premise. If the first premise was claiming that such beginnings do actually occur, then this would be relevant, but the first premise isn't claiming that. Or if you could prove such beginnings can't happen, then that would be relevant.

The other possible objection you may be making is that even if an ex nihilo beginning could happen, it is logically possible that causation works differently with them than with re-configuration beginnings. But, as you've rightly said, logical possibilities aren't enough. Therefore, to uphold your objection here you need to support why it is more rational to believe they would act differently in regards to causation. All of our empirical observations are that existing material does not re-configure without a cause of some kind. Why is it more rational to think that when we take the existing material away, that absolute nothingness, which has no actual characteristics at all, might be able to pop into existence without any cause of some kind? If anything, it seems that already existing material would be more likely to reconfigure without a cause then that nothing would become something without a cause because at least there is something there to be re-configured randomly.

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