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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KCA

Post #2

Post by ToKnowHim »

Welcome, McCulloch! Thank you for agreeing to debate with me. To start, here are my definitions:
The word ‘exist’/‘exists’/‘existed’ as used hear bears the meaning of actually is; things which are in reality, .things which are measurable by science and/or knowable through the senses, as opposed to mere concepts that exist in our brains.

Examples:

The earth exists. We can see it, touch it, taste it, and perform repeatable tests on it; we have empirical evidence of it.

Gravity exists. We cannot see it, touch it or taste it, but we can feel it, see its effects, and perform repeatable tests on it; we have empirical evidence of it.

The speed of light exists. We cannot see, touch, taste, or smell the speed of light; but we can measure it and perform repeatable tests on it; we have empirical evidence of it.

Counter Examples:

The number 1 does not exist. We can use a ‘1’ as a concept, to denote a quantity of a thing, but there is not a ‘1’ out there that we can see, touch, taste, smell, or perform repeatable tests on; we have no empirical evidence of a ‘1.’

Freedom does not exist. We use the concept of freedom; this concept has been developed over many centuries, but it is not a thing that we can see, touch, taste, smell, or perform repeatable tests on; we have no empirical evidence of ‘freedom.’ Any ‘measure’ of how ‘free’ someone or something is (or unfree) is purely subjective.

The dictionary definition of exist is also instructive:

: to have actual being : to be real
: to continue to be or to live

1 a : to have real being whether material or spiritual <the largest galaxy known to exist>
b : to have being in a specified place or with respect to understood limitations or conditions <strange ideas existed in his mind>

2 : to continue to be <racism still exists in society>

3 a : to have life or the functions of vitality <we cannot exist without oxygen>
b : to live at an inferior level or under adverse circumstances <the hungry existing from day to day>

Exist is used here as defined above, and as defined in item 1a and 2.


The word ‘cause’/‘caused’ is used with its dictionary definition:

: something or someone that produces an effect, result, or condition : something or someone that makes something happen or exist
: a reason for doing or feeling something
: something (such as an organization, belief, idea, or goal) that a group or people support or fight for

1 a : a reason for an action or condition : motive
b : something that brings about an effect or a result
c : a person or thing that is the occasion of an action or state; especially : an agent that brings something about
d : sufficient reason <discharged for cause>
2 a : a ground of legal action
b : case
3 : a matter or question to be decided
4 a : a principle or movement militantly defended or supported
b : a charitable undertaking <for a good cause>


Cause is used here as defined in item 1b. The word ‘begin’/‘began’/‘beginning’ of a thing means that before its ‘beginning,’ it did not exist at all in any sense whatsoever. The dictionary definition is also helpful:
: to do the first part of an action : to start doing something
: to start to work on, produce, or give attention to (something)
: to cause (something) to start

intransitive verb

1 : to do the first part of an action : go into the first part of a process : start
2 a : to come into existence : arise
b : to have a starting point
3 : to do or succeed in the least degree <I can't begin to tell you how pleased I am>

transitive verb
1 : to set about the activity of : start
2 a : to bring into being : found
b : originate, invent
- to begin with
: as the first thing to be considered

The word ‘begin’/‘began’/‘beginning’ is used here as defined in item 2a & b. The word ‘infinite’/‘infinity’ is defined as follows:
: the quality of having no limits or end : the quality of being infinite
: a space, amount, or period of time that has no limits or end
: a very great number or amount

1 a : the quality of being infinite
b : unlimited extent of time, space, or quantity : boundlessness
2 : an indefinitely great number or amount <an infinity of stars>
3 a : the limit of the value of a function or variable when it tends to become numerically larger than any preassigned finite number
b : a part of a geometric magnitude that lies beyond any part whose distance from a given reference position is finite <do parallel lines ever meet if they extend to infinity> c : a transfinite number (as aleph-null)
4 : a distance so great that the rays of light from a point source at that distance may be regarded as parallel

The word ‘infinite’/‘infinity’ is used here as defined in item 1a, 1b, and 2; that which is infinite cannot, by definition, be measured.

The word ‘natural’/‘nature’ is defined as the physical world and everything in it (such as plants, animals, mountains, oceans, stars, etc.) that is not made by people; the natural forces that control what happens in the world and the external world in its entirety. Thus, both the observable universe and that part which we cannot, at the moment, observe – but which exists nevertheless – is a ‘natural’ thing and/or IS nature.

The word ‘supernatural’ is defined as follows:
: unable to be explained by science or the laws of nature : of, relating to, or seeming to come from magic, a god, etc.

1 : of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil
2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature
b : attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit).


The word ‘supernatural’ is used here as defined in item 1 and 2a, allowing for the rewording of item 2 to appear as ‘departing from what is usual or normal, transcending the laws of nature.’ The word ‘universe’ is used here to mean both the observable physical universe and everything it encompasses, as well as that part of the natural, physical universe which we cannot see, and as follows:
the universe : all of space and everything in it including stars, planets, galaxies, etc.

1 : the whole body of things and phenomena observed or postulated : cosmos
a : a systematic whole held to arise by and persist through the direct intervention of divine power
b : the world of human experience
c (1) : the entire celestial cosmos
(2) : milky way galaxy
(3) : an aggregate of stars comparable to the Milky Way galaxy

The word ‘universe’ is used here as defined in item 1 and c(1). The dictionary definitions here were provided by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary at www.merriam-webster.com.

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Re: KCA

Post #3

Post by McCulloch »

ToKnowHim wrote:Welcome, McCulloch! Thank you for agreeing to debate with me. To start, here are my definitions:
The word ‘exist’/‘exists’/‘existed’ as used hear bears the meaning of actually is; things which are in reality, .things which are measurable by science and/or knowable through the senses, as opposed to mere concepts that exist in our brains.
Being a mathematician, I define exist a little bit more rigorously than you. To me there is no such concept as absolute existence. The word always works in the context of some defined set. For example, there exists a set of prime numbers which are the divisors of any given integer. That is to say, within the set of prime numbers, we can find elements which fulfill the stated requirements. But wait, you might say, what about the real world. I exist, you exist, the tree outside of my window exists. And in the real world the number five does not exist; it is an abstraction. And I would agree. Without a given context, the implied context is events in spacetime. The earth exists; that means that there is a set of objects with a defined position in both space and time that can be labeled as earth.

In this sense, neither gravity nor the speed of light exist. Light exists and it travels at a known speed. Mass exists and we call the force of attraction between massive particles gravity.
ToKnowHim wrote:The word ‘cause’/‘caused’ is used with its dictionary definition: [...] something that brings about an effect or a result
We agree.
ToKnowHim wrote:The word ‘begin’/‘began’/‘beginning’ of a thing means that before its ‘beginning,’ it did not exist at all in any sense whatsoever.
The beginning of a thing is the time when before that time the thing did not exist, but after that time the thing did exist. We agree.
ToKnowHim wrote:The word ‘infinite’/‘infinity’ is defined as follows:
: the quality of having no limits or end : the quality of being infinite
: a space, amount, or period of time that has no limits or end
: a very great number or amount

1 a : the quality of being infinite
b : unlimited extent of time, space, or quantity : boundlessness
2 : an indefinitely great number or amount <an infinity of stars>
3 a : the limit of the value of a function or variable when it tends to become numerically larger than any preassigned finite number
b : a part of a geometric magnitude that lies beyond any part whose distance from a given reference position is finite <do parallel lines ever meet if they extend to infinity> c : a transfinite number (as aleph-null)
4 : a distance so great that the rays of light from a point source at that distance may be regarded as parallel

The word ‘infinite’/‘infinity’ is used here as defined in item 1a, 1b, and 2; that which is infinite cannot, by definition, be measured.
We may need a bit more discussion on this one. Definition 1a is circular. And 1b might be ambiguous. The surface of the earth is, for example, unbounded, yet finite. The question of being infinite is logically separate from the question of having boundaries. Traveling east until further travel is impossible, describes an infinite trip but a finite path.
The example in definition number two is vast but not infinite. Infinite cannot be measured, but not all that eludes measurement is necessarily infinite.
I get my definitions of infinity from mathematics. For discrete items (people, stars, grains of sand etc.), the count is infinite if and only if there is a one-to-one correspondence with the integers (ℤ). For measurements of things not discrete (time, space, pressure, temperature, frequency), it is infinite if it a corresponding state exists for every real number (�).
ToKnowHim wrote:The word ‘natural’/‘nature’ is defined as the physical world and everything in it (such as plants, animals, mountains, oceans, stars, etc.) that is not made by people; the natural forces that control what happens in the world and the external world in its entirety. Thus, both the observable universe and that part which we cannot, at the moment, observe – but which exists nevertheless – is a ‘natural’ thing and/or IS nature.
I find the distinction between things made by people and things made by other entities somewhat artificial. Is a tree branch used as a lever natural? What if it was a Gorilla using it?
ToKnowHim wrote:The word ‘supernatural’ is defined as follows:
: unable to be explained by science or the laws of nature : of, relating to, or seeming to come from magic, a god, etc.

1 : of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil
2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature
b : attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit).

The word ‘supernatural’ is used here as defined in item 1 and 2a, allowing for the rewording of item 2 to appear as ‘departing from what is usual or normal, transcending the laws of nature.’
I would accept definition 1 but not 2a. Something that departs from what is usual or normal is simply unusual or even rare. Since all of the laws of nature are not yet known, we can only state transcending the known laws of nature, which means that something you call supernatural is simply something unusual that we have not discovered a law of nature to explain yet.
ToKnowHim wrote:The word ‘universe’ is used here to mean both the observable physical universe and everything it encompasses, as well as that part of the natural, physical universe which we cannot see, and as follows:
the universe : all of space and everything in it including stars, planets, galaxies, etc.
Following modern cosmology and general relativity, I would extend the definition to all of space and time [the space-time continuum] and everything in it.
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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KCA Definiitons

Post #4

Post by ToKnowHim »

Exist:
I don't see any difficulty with your more rigid definition of 'exist;' therefore, I accept it.

Infinite/infinity:
If we discovered a planet and scientist x declared its diameter to be infinite, we could begin measuring it. If the diameter is VERY LARGE but finite, it might take a very, very long time to measure it, but it could still be measured.

I perceive a trend among humanity to make generalizations where they are not warranted. If it's merely very, very big, and we ASSUME that it's infinite - and even stop measuring - then we're lazy, and we're wrong.

On the other hand, if the theoretical planet were indeed infinite in diameter, we could NEVER measure it. That is the nature of infinity.

To that end, this is how I am using infinite / infinity. Not in the sense of numbers where there are a multitude of different KINDS of infinity, and infinity exists as a useful tool, but to state that, it is my firm belief that no natural infinite thing 'x' exists in the real world.

Nature:
A tree branch is a natural thing. People didn't make the tree. We didn't 'design' it, manufacture it, etc. A gorilla using a tree branch has created a tool using a natural thing; a person using a wooden table is using an artificial thing, created USING natural things; this doesn't include constructs such as plastic, metal, etc., which only humanity (as far as we know) has made use of.

Natural, as opposed to artificial; that which exists through the process of evolution. Therefore, this term would encompass the visible universe, the sun, planets, trees, rocks, rivers, fish, humans, apes, insects, etc., but not cars, laptops, refrigerators, paper, staples, CD's, etc.

Supernatural:
I accept your definition of supernatural as 'departing from what is usual or normal, transcending the known laws of nature.' However, I will stand by my own personal beliefs according to definition #1.

Universe:
Including all of space & time (the space/time continuum) is acceptable. I agree.

If we're in agreement, I will post my opening statement next.

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Re: KCA Definiitons

Post #5

Post by McCulloch »

ToKnowHim wrote:Infinite/infinity:
If we discovered a planet and scientist x declared its diameter to be infinite, we could begin measuring it. If the diameter is VERY LARGE but finite, it might take a very, very long time to measure it, but it could still be measured.
No one who called himself a scientist would declare the diameter of a planet to be infinite. A spherical mass with an infinite diameter would have zero curvature. Absurd.
ToKnowHim wrote:I perceive a trend among humanity to make generalizations where they are not warranted. If it's merely very, very big, and we ASSUME that it's infinite - and even stop measuring - then we're lazy, and we're wrong.
Or we use the word infinite metaphorically to mean a vast number. For purposes of this debate, let us agree to use the word infinity only literally.
ToKnowHim wrote:On the other hand, if the theoretical planet were indeed infinite in diameter, we could NEVER measure it. That is the nature of infinity.
Agreed.
ToKnowHim wrote:To that end, this is how I am using infinite / infinity. Not in the sense of numbers where there are a multitude of different KINDS of infinity, and infinity exists as a useful tool, but to state that, it is my firm belief that no natural infinite thing 'x' exists in the real world.
Agreed. It turns out that how you look at it and how I look at it are logically identical.
ToKnowHim wrote:Nature:
A tree branch is a natural thing. People didn't make the tree. We didn't 'design' it, manufacture it, etc. A gorilla using a tree branch has created a tool using a natural thing; a person using a wooden table is using an artificial thing, created USING natural things; this doesn't include constructs such as plastic, metal, etc., which only humanity (as far as we know) has made use of.

Natural, as opposed to artificial; that which exists through the process of evolution. Therefore, this term would encompass the visible universe, the sun, planets, trees, rocks, rivers, fish, humans, apes, insects, etc., but not cars, laptops, refrigerators, paper, staples, CD's, etc.
Unless you are defending the teleological argument, the distinction between natural and artificial is not necessary to your argument. Since we are discussing a cosmological argument, it is sufficient to define supernatural.
ToKnowHim wrote:Supernatural:
I accept your definition of supernatural as 'departing from what is usual or normal, transcending the known laws of nature.' However, I will stand by my own personal beliefs according to definition #1.
Agreed, so long as your personal beliefs are not called into evidence.
ToKnowHim wrote:Universe:
Including all of space & time (the space/time continuum) is acceptable. I agree.

If we're in agreement, I will post my opening statement next.
Yes. Let's start.
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
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The truth will make you free.
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KCA

Post #6

Post by ToKnowHim »

Actually, your comment about my 'example' of infinity just cements my position even further: the idea of an actual, infinite thing 'x' in reality IS absurd.

If I'm using the term 'infinite' in this debate, I do mean it literally; i.e., if I were arguing for a planet with an infinite diameter (which, as you stated, would be absurd - and I agree), then that 'infinite' is meant literally.

Natural vs. artificial vs. supernatural:
I bring up this term because I use it frequently in my argument, most specifically, natural things, natural universe, the forces of nature, etc. Ultimately, I think my main thrust is the separation between the natural - that which has evolved from the 'beginning,' and the supernatural.

However, since I'm using this term consistently, I don't think you'll have a problem with my proposed definition once you've seen it used; I'm not making a specific differentiation between natural and artificial, and I'm not making a teleological argument.

I did think it was important to define it. All that being said....

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Opening Statement:
The Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA) argument dates back to around 800 AD, and is generally stated as follows:
KA. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
KB. The universe began to exist.
KC. Therefore, the universe had a cause.

Alternatively, the argument has been stated similarly as follows:

KA. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
KB. The universe began to exist.
KC. Therefore, the universe had a cause.

One major objection to the KCA, as generally written, is that the term ‘whatever’ is vague; another is that, since we have not seen ‘everything’ which can be seen, we cannot make an argument regarding it; we have no empirical evidence or repeatable test for ‘everything.’

Another stems from the ‘began to exist’ clause of the second premise, as there is a question in the scientific community about whether our universe did indeed begin to exist.

There are also problems with the word ‘universe,’ stemming from natural language problems and possible equivocation.

I do indeed realize that, even with a logically valid argument, the KCA cannot ‘prove’ anything. A logically valid argument is simply a logically valid argument. It cannot tell us what is true or false about reality. For instance, consider three forms of the ancient example:

1. All men are mortal.
Socrates was a man.
Therefore, Socrates was mortal.

2. All men are mortal.
Cleopatra was a man.
Therefore, Cleopatra was mortal.

3. All humans are mortal.
Sherlock Holmes was a human.
Therefore, Sherlock Holmes was mortal.

This format is logically valid... but it may not be true. With the second example, the format is valid but the statement is false due to a natural language problem; since Cleopatra was not a ‘man,’ but a woman, making the statement false due to the second premise. And in the third example, which would work for Cleopatra, is false because Sherlock Holmes was a fictional character created by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; he was not, by definition, human.

The difficulty with such statements is that we must check with reality given any logically valid statement; for some things, this may be difficult or impossible. Keeping that in mind, however, let us continue.

My Solution

A few theologians in history have attempted to re-address the KCA, usually working to defend it as worded. I have found little evidence that anyone has attempted to either rework or reword the KCA so that, instead of being replete with logical fallacies, that it passes logical muster.

My thinking is this: For the KCA to pass logical muster, we must eliminate the logical fallacies in it. Ordinarily, that would require rewording it entirely, most likely having to take the form of a probabilistic argument, which is a weaker type of argument.

However, if by logical argument I can entirely avoid the problems with the KCA and yet address the meat of the concept, then I will not only have done something that no one to date has accomplished, but I will also have a personally fulfilling and rewarding experience, using informal logic to demonstrate something which actually may be outside what logic can normally deal with.

All that being said, my premises, conclusions, and explanations will follow in my arguments to come, with logical arguments standing in support thereof.

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Re: KCA

Post #7

Post by McCulloch »

[Replying to post 6 by ToKnowHim]
ToKnowHim wrote:One major objection to the KCA, as generally written, is that the term ‘whatever’ is vague; another is that, since we have not seen ‘everything’ which can be seen, we cannot make an argument regarding it; we have no empirical evidence or repeatable test for ‘everything.’
There is no vagueness in the term whatever or everything. In the first premise of the KCA it is only stating that for all things that begin, there exists some other thing that is its cause. For much of the time, this premise would have seemed self-evident. However, quantum physics includes the creation of particle pairs apparently without cause.
ToKnowHim wrote:Another stems from the ‘began to exist’ clause of the second premise, as there is a question in the scientific community about whether our universe did indeed begin to exist.
If time is finite, then the universe did not begin, according to our agree upon definition of begin. If there was no time before the beginning of time, then no thing that existed at the first moment of time could have begun.
ToKnowHim wrote:There are also problems with the word ‘universe,’ stemming from natural language problems and possible equivocation.
I am interested in how you resolve those problems. I suggest that you read a little Bertrand Russell, Russell paradox. If you see the universe as a set of things, then you must be very careful about statements you make about the universe as if it was an object.

If you restate the KCA as this, it no longer is valid:
  1. Whatever things begin to exist have a cause.
  2. The universe is a set of things that began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe had a cause.
Premise (a) refers to things not sets of things, so the conclusion does not follow from the premises.
ToKnowHim wrote:I do indeed realize that, even with a logically valid argument, the KCA cannot ‘prove’ anything.
A logical argument is true if it is both a valid argument and the premises are all true. We agree.
ToKnowHim wrote:my premises, conclusions, and explanations will follow in my arguments to come, with logical arguments standing in support thereof.
With bated breath and whisp'ring humbleness, I say this: Lay on, ToKnowHim, and damned be him who first cries 'Hold! enough!'
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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KCA; 1st argument

Post #8

Post by ToKnowHim »

Russel's Paradox, eh? My brain is exploding, trying to understand what it's saying. I gather it's about mathematical sets, but that's as far as I got before my neurons imploded. But, for mine own part, it was Greek to me. (Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2).

Image

Whisp'ring humbleness? Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 8. (I looked it up).

Once more unto the breach, dear friends... (King Henry V, Act 3, Scene I).

Premise 1.
Natural things {gravity, quarks, principles of physics, energy, particles, etc.} exist.

Premise 2.
Some natural thing ‘x’ {gravity, quarks, principles of physics, energy, particles, etc.} has always existed.

Conclusion 1.
Every natural thing that exists now either began to exist at some point in time, or has always existed.[/i]

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Re: KCA; 1st argument

Post #9

Post by McCulloch »

ToKnowHim wrote:Russel's Paradox, eh? My brain is exploding, trying to understand what it's saying. I gather it's about mathematical sets, but that's as far as I got before my neurons imploded. But, for mine own part, it was Greek to me. (Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2).
It can be quite a struggle the first time through. Russell was one of the greatest logicians of the early twentieth century.
ToKnowHim wrote:Whisp'ring humbleness? Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 8. (I looked it up).
Actually I patched together bits from Merchant of Venice (Act 1, Scene 3) and Macbeth (Act 5 scene 8)
ToKnowHim wrote:Once more unto the breach, dear friends... (King Henry V, Act 3, Scene I).
Well said! thou lookest cheerly, and I'll be with thee quickly. ('As You Like It' Act 2, Scene 6)
ToKnowHim wrote:Premise 1.
Natural things {gravity, quarks, principles of physics, energy, particles, etc.} exist.

Premise 2.
Some natural thing ‘x’ {gravity, quarks, principles of physics, energy, particles, etc.} has always existed.

Conclusion 1.
Every natural thing that exists now either began to exist at some point in time, or has always existed.[/i]
Premise 2. is unnecessary to the argument, although I will not dispute it.

As mentioned before (Post 3) gravity and the principles of physics do not actually exist as things in the universe.

However, I agree with the conclusion:
Every natural thing {quarks, energy, particles, etc} that now exists either began to exist at some point in time or has always existed.
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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KCA; 2nd argument

Post #10

Post by ToKnowHim »

Response:
Actually, an argument might be made for gravity and principles of physics 'existing.' While it's true that gravity is a force we measure, rather than a tangible 'thing,' per se, gravity is THERE; we feel it; we can perform repeatable tests on it; there is empirical evidence of it. To that degree, at least, gravity 'exists,' though not the same way a tree exists.

Likewise, the principles of physics... the so-called 'laws' of thermodynamics, the way light works, the attraction of atoms to each other, and so on. Each has empirical evidence and repeatable tests to demonstrate that such things 'exist,' or function, or however you want to put it. To that degree, they exist.

One request: Please analyze EACH ARGUMENT on its own merit FIRST, unrelated to any other argument which has come before or after it. When I present my argument which is based upon each of the two proceeding arguments, that would be (IMHO) the place to put any ?? hair-raising question marks ?? you may have as to any apparent inconsistencies between sets of arguments.

My reasoning will become very clear, I promise. :)

Second Argument:
Premise 3.
Natural things {gravity, quarks, principles of physics, energy, particles, etc.} exist.

Premise 4.
Some natural thing ‘x’ {gravity, quarks, principles of physics, energy, particles, etc.} has not always existed.

Conclusion 2.
Every natural thing that exists now began to exist at some point in time.

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