The Kal�m Cosmological Argument

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The Kal�m Cosmological Argument

Post #1

Post by McCulloch »

The Kal�m Cosmological Argument consists of two premises and a conclusion.
  • KA. Everything that begins to exist has a cause or Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  • KB. The universe began to exist.
  • KC. Therefore, the universe had a cause.
Using a series of sound and valid logical arguments, ToKnowHim, will show in turn, that both of the premises of the KCA are true. And that KC, the conclusion of the KCA, is therefore true.

The principle that for a thing or concept to be accepted, there must be:
  1. Empirical evidence for it;
  2. Repeatable tests of it; and/or
  3. A logical argument to support it.
If a thing or concept fails all three of those criteria, it means that we must be skeptical of that thing.

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Re: KCA

Post #71

Post by McCulloch »

[Replying to post 70 by ToKnowHim]
Apologies for being so delayed in responding. Real life getting in the way of debating.

Three thing I would like to deal with at this point in the debate:
  • The possibility of equivocation with regard to the causation of the beginning of things.
  • The nature of time, is it properly called a thing?
  • Quantum entanglement and the question of causation not happening prior to the effect.
1. The possibility of equivocation with regard to the causation of the beginning of things.
In the natural universe, things are not ever known to be created in an absolute sense of the word. When a new thing has a beginning, this event is really just the reconfiguration of existing natural things into a new form. Yet the alleged creation at the beginning of time is a completely different event. It is the beginning of natural things without any pre-existing natural things to construct them from. I believe that what the Kal�m Cosmological Argument does is to generalize from the first type of creation to the second type. This is not a valid generalization.

2. The nature of time, is it properly called a thing?
Time is something that we don't entirely understand. Does anybody really know what time is? (With apologies to Robert Lamm)
Time is not something that is used as a part of something else. It is not a thing that we can manipulate, transform or change in any way. Time is part of the framework in which we all exist, so to speak of time itself as existing or being caused is meaningless. In our experience, if some event is caused, that causation happens within time: cause then effect. Which brings me to the third point.

3. Quantum entanglement and the question of causation not happening prior to the effect.
As I have pointed out before, in our universe, cause always comes before effect. Even in the weird world of quantum physics, except perhaps in the case of what is called quantum entanglement. Here is how I understand this one exception. Quantum particles have various attributes. If a pair of particles are created from some other particles, the sum of any of these attributes, for example spin, must equal the sum of that attribute of the prior set of particles. Here is where quantum weirdness comes in. Quantum particles can at. Some times have an indeterminate value for a given attribute. Actually, it appears as if the particle has a superposition of all of the possible values of this attribute. However, once an attempt is made to measure this attribute, the superposition collapses into a single value.
Now, here is how it works with quantum entanglement. Let's say a particle with zero spin is split into two particles and that these two particles are moving away from each other at the speed of light. Each of these particles may have an undetermined value for spin. But as soon as you cause the quantum collapse of one of these particles, let's say the right one with a spin of +1, immediately the other particle collapses with a spin of -1. Yet, since the two particles are traveling away from each other at the speed of light, it would have been impossible for a signal to travel from one to the other. So it appears as if the quantum collapse of one particle caused the quantum collapse of the other at the same time.
If anyone tells you that we understand this effect or that there are any generalized results we can take from this, they are lying. We just don't understand quantum physics well enough to do this. But understand this, is is a singularly weird result that only happens with sets of particles which, for some reason or other, are quantum lay entangled. It is completely unwarranted to say that time itself was caused by something outside of time because some particles may communicate their status instantaneously.
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KCA

Post #72

Post by ToKnowHim »

Thank you for your reply. Once again, you've given me a lot to think about. As far as the first point goes, on a possible equivocation regarding the beginning of things, I'd like to say this.

You said that, for everything we've thus far seen, each new thing 'begins to exist' from other existing natural things. Is this ALWAYS the case, and do we have empirical evidence to suggest that EVERYTHING works this way, and ALWAYS has worked this way? That's a fair question, I believe.

You're right about the Kalam, in it's usual form, generalizing between one type of 'begin' to another, and thus starting off with possible or actual equivocation.

My intent here was to demonstrate that, since we have no evidence of things that have NO CAUSE, things therefore have a cause. That we don't know a cause does not enter into the equation.

Is time itself a thing? I think the argument can certainly be made for that. Certainly Einstein treated it as a thing in his equations; Hawking likewise appears, at least on the surface, to treat time as a thing. In that we can measure it, perform repeatable tests on it and have at least some empirical evidence of it, to that regard, at least, it is a thing which exists. We've agreed that it is finite, not infinite.

What we have not (yet) come to an agreement on is whether it CAN have a cause or not. Whether time HAS a cause is a different question to if it CAN have a cause. Although the two questions are related, I think they have to be answered separately.

You seem to say that a cause must happen 'within time,' that cause -> effect MUST always be the case, for every thing, forever. My question, though -- and I admit, I probably know less about quantum weirdness than you do; but if there can be a cause without effect, and effect before cause, and apparently simultaneous causes and effects at the quantum level, then such things could happen at other levels. I think, however, that you're saying (and probably rightly so) that the jury's still out as to whether these things are indeed happening this way at the quantum level at all.

All that being said, you've said something that I entirely agree with, and want to make a special point of it: That the beginning of time would be a "beginning of natural things without any pre-existing natural things to construct them from."

This is a point I've tried to demonstrate. Whatever the first thing to exist was -- whether time, energy, or something else (even if the first thing was more than one thing existing simultaneously), there was no pre-existing natural thing for them to be formed FROM. That leaves the supernatural as the source.

The philosopher Parmenides theorized: ex nihilo nihil fit: Out of nothing, nothing comes. Generally, it means you can’t get something from nothing. As traditionally written, this theorem has problems – mainly, that there’s no way to test it.

However, there can be logical arguments made to support his hypothesis. To make this argument, I would restate his theorem as follows: From a natural state of nothingness, there is no natural process whereby you might end up with some natural thing (x).

The nothing here is the philosophical nothing (PN), a state which cannot be demonstrated through empirical evidence or repeatable tests. However, a logical argument for PN may be made using deductive logic. If every natural thing that exists began to exist at some point in time, then logically, there was a time when no natural thing existed. An absolute nothingness.

Using deductive logic, this state of nothingness has already been demonstrated to have existed. If there were some natural thing that has always existed, a state of PN could never have existed. Since we have already ruled out the notion that there could be some natural thing that has always existed, the natural things that now exist had to have begun (come into being) at some point in time.

Premise 10.
Whatever the first natural thing ‘x’ to exist was, began to exist due to a natural cause.

Conclusion 5.
Nature was caused by that which is natural.

Premise 12.
Whatever the first natural thing ‘x’ to exist was, began to exist due to a cause that was not natural.

Conclusion 6.
Nature was caused by that which is not natural – i.e., something supernatural.

If cause HAS TO precede effect, and no natural thing existed to cause time, then I submit that a supernatural thing, agent, etc. can be argued as the cause, a cause that could precede the effect of time.

You've said that time simply exists. One second it wasn't there (if second could even be used as a term here), and the next second it was. Poof. But without some kind of empirical evidence or repeatable tests to show that 'it just happened,' without agent, without cause, on its own, ex nihilio fit, I must remain skeptical of that position.

You've resisted this position, and I understand and respect that. Absent any evidence demonstrating that time could exist without cause, absent any evidence that time 'just exists,' absent any evidence that ALL THINGS must have a cause/effect relationship, absent any evidence that there's an alternative, natural explanation for the beginning of time...

Well, I think you get my point. Energy has existed 'for all time;' that's not to say it's infinite or eternal, but as long has time has existed, so has energy. But if all things have a cause/effect relationship, then there must, by definition, be a CAUSE for energy... some natural thing or things 'x' from which it derives. But if you go back to the first moment, the moment that time itself began, you see that before time began, NO NATURAL THINGS 'x' existed; you've argued yourself that, without time as a framework for those things to exist in, they could NOT exist.

So either you have time, energy, etc. having NO CAUSE at all - they 'poofed' into existence -- or you have a non-natural cause. If you can indeed provide empirical evidence and/or repeatable tests of ANY natural thing having NO CAUSE, you will have won this argument. Absent any such evidence, I believe I have won it.

I think that this, ultimately, is the question of all questions in this debate, and the resolution thereof can only lead to both of us learning more. Anyhow, that's my 2 cents worth.[/i]

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Re: KCA

Post #73

Post by McCulloch »

ToKnowHim wrote:You said that, for everything we've thus far seen, each new thing 'begins to exist' from other existing natural things. Is this ALWAYS the case, and do we have empirical evidence to suggest that EVERYTHING works this way, and ALWAYS has worked this way? That's a fair question, I believe.
If your argument relies on natural things beginning to exist but not from other natural things, the please provide the evidence and repeatable tests demonstrating it. As far as I know, my statement is an accurate one. Without at least one counter example, I am justified in being skeptical of natural things coming from supernatural sources or from nothing.
ToKnowHim wrote:My intent here was to demonstrate that, since we have no evidence of things that have NO CAUSE, things therefore have a cause. That we don't know a cause does not enter into the equation.
The fact of the matter is that we have no evidence regarding the beginning of the fundamental stuff of the universe. The only things that we know are caused are things which are created by the actions and/or interactions of other natural things. Is it valid to conclude from what we know about composite things to fundamental things? I don't think so.
ToKnowHim wrote:Is time itself a thing? I think the argument can certainly be made for that. Certainly Einstein treated it as a thing in his equations; Hawking likewise appears, at least on the surface, to treat time as a thing.
I am not sure that they do.
ToKnowHim wrote:In that we can measure it, perform repeatable tests on it and have at least some empirical evidence of it, to that regard, at least, it is a thing which exists.
Actually, we cannot directly measure time. We can measure the effect of time on something. Just the same we cannot measure distance itself. We can measure the distance from A to B. But in reality we cannot even do that. We can compare the distance from A to B with any other known distances. Likewise, we do not directly measure time. We measure the duration of certain events, as compared to certain other events. Distance began only when there was more than one particle in the universe. Without things with a distance between them, there cannot be space. Without events that happen, there cannot be time. Neither space nor time are things in the universe.
ToKnowHim wrote: We've agreed that it is finite, not infinite.

What we have not (yet) come to an agreement on is whether it CAN have a cause or not. Whether time HAS a cause is a different question to if it CAN have a cause. Although the two questions are related, I think they have to be answered separately.
The questions should be answered sequentially. If we determine that time cannot have a cause the the question of whether time has a cause is moot. It is my position that time itself cannot have a cause. My argument is based on the temporal nature of cause and effect. Think of anything that is said to have been caused: a tree, a cloud, a water molecule, an internet posting. For everything you know, the causes must exist before the thing being caused. In light of this, I am perfectly justified in being skeptical about a cause of anything outside of time. Where is your evidence and repeatable tests?
ToKnowHim wrote:Whatever the first thing to exist was -- whether time, energy, or something else (even if the first thing was more than one thing existing simultaneously), there was no pre-existing natural thing for them to be formed FROM. That leaves the supernatural as the source.
This presumes what you set out to prove: that the fundamental stuff of the universe must have had a source and a cause.
ToKnowHim wrote:However, there can be logical arguments made to support his hypothesis. To make this argument, I would restate his theorem as follows: From a natural state of nothingness, there is no natural process whereby you might end up with some natural thing (x).
Agreed.
ToKnowHim wrote:The nothing here is the philosophical nothing (PN), a state which cannot be demonstrated through empirical evidence or repeatable tests. However, a logical argument for PN may be made using deductive logic. If every natural thing that exists began to exist at some point in time, then logically, there was a time when no natural thing existed. An absolute nothingness.
Only if time is infinite. Time, however, is finite. There is no point in time when no natural thing existed. For the entirety of time from T0 to now! there has never been a time when no natural thing existed. If your point in time when no natural thing is somehow before T0 then it is a point in time that is before the beginning of time; a contradiction. Kal�m requires infinite time.
ToKnowHim wrote:You've said that time simply exists. One second it wasn't there (if second could even be used as a term here), and the next second it was.
You keep missing the point about time being finite. Time did not come into existence within an already existing timeline. There cannot be a time when there was no time. It is logically impossible.
ToKnowHim wrote:[…]But if you go back to the first moment, the moment that time itself began, you see that before time began, NO NATURAL THINGS 'x' existed; you've argued yourself that, without time as a framework for those things to exist in, they could NOT exist.
Here you do it again. There cannot be a before time began. The word before relates to a passage of time. There cannot be time without time.
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KCA

Post #74

Post by ToKnowHim »

Once again, I think you've missed my point. "Before" time began, nothing existed. There was no "before," because "before" is a point in time. But until time existed, nothing existed. When time started (whether caused or uncaused), THEN other things could exist.

Nothing existed. There was no natural thing 'x' from which time could derive. I think, then, the question you've got to answer is, did time 'cause' itself? Is 'cause' even a correct word when applied to time?

You said:
This presumes what you set out to prove: that the fundamental stuff of the universe must have had a source and a cause.
I disagree. You've basically agreed (correct me if I'm wrong) that for everything we've thus far observed, it is 'caused' by (or comes from) some fundamental element or elements which preceded it, i.e., water came from hydrogen and oxygen. Are you saying that the 'fundamental stuff of the universe' is an exception to that rule? Please provide the empirical evidence and/or repeatable tests demonstrating that.

I keep asking YOU for empirical evidence for your position, but you keep shifting the burden back. I'm not trying to prove my own position; I'm trying to make you prove YOURS. What I'm essentially arguing is that, there is and cannot be empirical evidence and/or repeatable tests to demonstrate your position. That being the case, we are left with mine. This is a logical progression. Either things have a cause or they do not.

If things have a cause, ALL things have a cause. If your position is otherwise, you must prove it.

Finally, you never answered the question: Can time have a cause? What is your evidence and/or repeatable tests to demonstrate that it CANNOT have a cause (ie, it has NO CAUSE)?

Once again, the ball is in your court.

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Re: KCA

Post #75

Post by McCulloch »

ToKnowHim wrote:There was no natural thing 'x' from which time could derive. I think, then, the question you've got to answer is, did time 'cause' itself? Is 'cause' even a correct word when applied to time?
Imagine a very simple universe. This universe consists of one particle. With only one particle, this universe has zero dimensions. There is no concept of distance since everything in this universe is at the same place. There is no concept of time in this universe because there is no movement. The particle cannot move because there is nowhere to move. This is the timeless state that theists attribute to God. The one particle in this universe is everywhere, eternal, timeless, all powerful and omniscient.

Now imagine a slightly more complex universe. This universe has two particles. And let's say that these particles have mass. The two particles have gravitational attraction and move towards each other. They collide, bounce and move away from each other. Gravity then slows their movement and they once again move towards each other. This universe has distance and time. But there was no supernatural agent that created time or distance, they are just the natural consequence of a universe with more than one particle.
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Post #76

Post by ToKnowHim »

What you've said was very interesting. If the universe was only a single particle itself... well, you've said that in order for anything else to exist, time had to exist; without time as the framework, nothing could exist. This is your argument.

The more complex universe is probably closer to how our universe was prior to the development of the singularity which later expanded; I'm not sure.

The problem here is that you're making an argument from analogy. I don't think we know what the universe was prior to the singularity, or even if there WAS a before. The question still remains. Can you show that time simply exists, using empirical evidence and/or repeatable tests?

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Re: KCA

Post #77

Post by McCulloch »

ToKnowHim wrote:If the universe was only a single particle itself... well, you've said that in order for anything else to exist, time had to exist; without time as the framework, nothing could exist. This is your argument.
To be precise, my argument is that things could not exist prior to the first moment of time. The point being made with this thought experiment is that time does not exist as a separate thing. Time, like any of the dimensions, is the relationship between things and events, not an event or thing in itself. The single particle universe has no time, just as it has no distance. A supernatural agent could not step in and create time in this universe. Time is simply the temporal measures between events just as distance is the spacial measure between particles. It is an emergent property of a universe where things can change. Time is not a thing any more than distance is a thing.

ToKnowHim wrote:The more complex universe is probably closer to how our universe was prior to the development of the singularity which later expanded; I'm not sure.
Again you are misrepresenting Big Bang cosmology. The Big Bang does not involve the development of a singularity which subsequently expanded. Development is something that happens in time. The word later is another word that implies time.
ToKnowHim wrote:The problem here is that you're making an argument from analogy. I don't think we know what the universe was prior to the singularity, or even if there WAS a before. The question still remains. Can you show that time simply exists, using empirical evidence and/or repeatable tests?
Short answer: No, I cannot.
If I were arguing that time was a thing that existed in the universe, then there would be a need for empirical tests and/or repeatable tests. Time is a dimension. Like the spacial dimensions, it just is. In order that there exists more than one particle in the universe, there has to be space, otherwise all of the particles would be in the same place. In order that there are any events in the universe, there has to be time. Distance is the spacial measure between particles; time is the temporal measure between events. The relative positions of the particles define distance. The relative times of events define time.
Can you show that distance or that time exist using repeatable tests and empirical evidence? I cannot.
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KCA

Post #78

Post by ToKnowHim »

Either time exists as a thing, or it does not. I think this is something we can agree on.

If time does not exist as a thing, then it fails our agreed-upon definition of 'exist.' This, then, implies that there is no such thing as time; we 'experience' time merely as a measure of how our brains evolve, and we perceive it, but that's all there is. Our measurement of time (like distance) is completely arbitrary.

The speed of light has been measured at 299,792,458 meters per second. Since meters are arbitrary and seconds are arbitrary, the definition is meaningless - as is any equation based upon it, ie, the theory of relativity E=MC2. However, I perceive a problem with this position. We have performed tests of Einstein's theory which show that it holds up, that it is a reliable equation which describes how the universe works.

The same holds true, at least as far as I'm aware, for Hawking's equations regarding black holes.

If time does not exist, then it did not begin to exist. It has no beginning, no ending, and no existence. It is neither finite nor infinite, for it does not exist.

If time is finite, then time exists. If time exists, then it is a thing. Am I way off base here?

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Re: KCA

Post #79

Post by McCulloch »

ToKnowHim wrote:Either time exists as a thing, or it does not. I think this is something we can agree on.
We agree. My position is that time is an attribute of a set of things, not a thing itself.
ToKnowHim wrote:If time does not exist as a thing, then it fails our agreed-upon definition of 'exist.' This, then, implies that there is no such thing as time; we 'experience' time merely as a measure of how our brains evolve, and we perceive it, but that's all there is. Our measurement of time (like distance) is completely arbitrary.
Neither the measurement of time nor distance is arbitrary, even if time and space are not things. A proton, for example, has a size that is fixed in relation to other elementary particles. So, in principle, we could use that distance as the unit of measurement for distance. Distance is not just something we experience in our brain, yet it is not a thing in itself. Likewise, time can be measured objectively using an arbitrary unit even though it is not a thing itself. A second of time is defined to be the duration of 9192631770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom at rest at a temperature of 0 K.

Let's say that I buy a bookshelf, not from Ikea, already assembled. The side of the box tells me that the shelf is 2 meters high, 40 centimetres wide and 28 centimetres deep. I open the box and aside from some documents and packing materials, I expect for there to be one thing. That thing has a size which includes three distances, but those distances are not separate things. I set it up in my room, 2 or so centimetres from the wall. That distance is not a new thing in my room, yet it began to exist when I set up the shelf.

Time likewise, is a dimension not a thing. Time existed from when the very first things started moving not because some supernatural entity said, "Let there be time" but because the very first movement began it.
ToKnowHim wrote:The speed of light has been measured at 299,792,458 meters per second. Since meters are arbitrary and seconds are arbitrary, the definition is meaningless -
Not necessarily. Arbitrary is not the same as meaningless. The unit of measurement is arbitrary. It is 299,792,458 metres per second, 186,000 miles per second, about 671 million miles per hour, 582,749,918 knots, 983571088 feet per second or mach 881,743.
ToKnowHim wrote:If time does not exist, then it did not begin to exist. It has no beginning, no ending, and no existence. It is neither finite nor infinite, for it does not exist.

If time is finite, then time exists. If time exists, then it is a thing. Am I way off base here?
The height of my bookshelf is not a thing, yet it can be said to exist.
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Post #80

Post by ToKnowHim »

Actually, I disagree. The height of your bookshelf cannot be said to exist, using the definition we've agreed upon.

Human beings decided what to call an "inch;" and so on. The meter's measurement is actually not a meter long; the measurement has been off by about a centimeter or so since the measurement began being used. These distances are entirely arbitrary. We can decide to call what is now two inches one inch, or three, or a mile. What we call it, what we use, changes. Measurement is arbitrary, and this includes time.

That we can base our time off some unique thing in the universe is good - but doesn't make that measurement any less arbitrary than when we used the sun to mark hours, or candles burning, or any other method.

Time, however, is different from physical measurement in many ways. For one thing, time can be measured in ways that distance cannot. We see the rings in a tree; even if the measurement of a year is arbitrary, the passage of time is clear. The same holds true for layers of sedimentary rock. They denote the passage of time. How MUCH time is determined using varying scientific methods - and I think that is the key difference.

We have empirical evidence and repeatable tests to show us that time passes at a specific rate. We can 'test' distance, but the distance between point A and point B remains the same unless some other force acts upon the space, such as an earthquake. But nothing - as far as I know - can effect time.

As far as time being 'an attribute,' I'm not certain you can support that position with logic or science. For time being a thing which exists, I think a good argument can be made for that position; it certainly seems consistent with what we've observed. Can you support your position?

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