|Posted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 10:55 am Understanding the Kalam Cosmological Argument|
|My desire in this thread is to discuss what the Kalam Cosmological Argument actually claims rather than assessing the truth of the conclusion. That's why I've put it in the philosophy section rather than the apologetic section, but maybe I'm wrong there. I've been reading Dan's Barker book godless and believe that he does not have a good grasp on what the argument says. You don't need to have read his chapter on it (chapter 8) to discuss the ideas he brings up, and the topic does not need to stay on Barker's understanding alone.
First (group of) question(s) for discussion: Do you agree with Barker that the "old" cosmological argument claimed that everything has a cause and, seeing that this fails, theists have changed the argument to try to "get God off the hook"? The attempt he then focuses on (while quickly speaking of two others) is the Kalam's addition of "that begins to exist" to make the key phrase everything that begins to exist has a cause. If you agree with him, what source(s) does this more "primitive" version of the argument come from?
Post 21: Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:50 pm
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We started out with a question about Barker, but I assumed that was just a way into the discussion.
If there's an unflawed version of the KCA, I'd like to know it. So that's what I'd like our topic to be: Can we formulate a persuasive version of the KCA?
But maybe you want to discuss psychological history, more like, "What did Aquinas mean when he wrote his version of the KCA. What was his original intent?"
This isn't a complaint, and I don't find whatever post made me want to ask this question, so this may seem out of the blue and not related to anything.I'm confused. What is our topic?
Post 22: Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:07 pm
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So let's write it that way and see if we can make it work:
P1: Some things are caused. Others maybe not.
P2: Some things are uncaused.
C: Therefore, the whole universe had a single cause.
I don't see how that can be made to work. I don't what premises can be added by a wise teacher to achieve validity.
The KCA seems to me invalid because the meaning of "universe" shifts between P2 and C. Surreptitious equivocation.
So let's fix the definition, to see if the argument can work that way:
P1: Anything that began had a cause.
P2: The universe (everything that exists, including gods if gods exist) began.
C1: Therefore, the universe (everything that exists, including gods if gods exist) began.
C2: Gods, if they exist, began.
C3: Gods, if they exist, had a cause.
Now that's valid. It's bulletproof.
Motivated believers in creator gods will reject it simply because they don't like the conclusion, but they can't argue that the logic is flawed.
We can of course question the soundness. Are the premises true? I have no reason to think so.
But the logic is impeccable.
Gotta go. Will continue ...
Post 23: Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:20 pm
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|Replying to post 20 by The Tanager]
The Tanager: I fail to see how this addresses the Kalam.
William: It addresses the inadequacies of the Kalam
The Tanager: You seem to be arguing that eternal entities could be created by God, but the example you give to support that are beings that only think they are eternal, when, in fact, they are not actually eternal.
William: Not when one also adds the premise that we are all eternal beings anyway.
GOD is the active ingredient and is eternal - never actually had a beginning because is not a thing which can be observed as an object.
The form (be that of this or any other reality) is the thing which the eternal occupy.
A form [thing] designed to give both the impression of always ever having existed while allowing amnesia of any prior existence as GOD undivided, does not mean that which occupies the form is not really an eternal being. The form of an eternal being is not what gives it the eternal quality. GOD within the form is what is the eternal aspect of that which occupies said form.
In relation to form designed to give an eternal being an experience of a beginning, has different properties which inhibit the understanding of 'eternal' and allow for GOD within it to experience NOT being an eternal being in a realistic, genuine-as-possible way.
The Tanager: If your theology is true, then an eternal being could have an experience of what it would be like to have a beginning, but they still would never have had a real beginning.
William: Correct. The experience is still real though, because whatever is experienced by GOD, is real.
It can even be achieved that an eternal being can experience a beginning and never thereafter, experience an end...through that method...
The Tanager: The eternal being is not being created, they are simply being transformed and having their memory wiped.
William: All is of GOD The First Source. Memory of prior experience need not necessarily be wiped - just retarded by the design of the form being occupied. Once leaving the form, the memory could even be re-instituted. This would depend largely on the next form the individual occupies...
The Tanager: A person who has amnesia didn't just begin to exist after waking up, even if that is all they can remember.
William: A good analogy of what my theology is suggesting. One can indeed think they are experiencing a beginning from their point of view, while from another's perspective, they could be seen as an entity which is eternal but simply doesn't know that of itself...essentially the entity is both, depending on the frame of reference.
Panentheism understands that at the heart of every thing, is the eternal creator of every thing...that is the self identity to reach for and obtain in one's understanding of SELF. [
Post 24: Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:54 pm
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By "fix," I meant hold constant, to not equivocate. I didn't mean fix as in repair.
Okay, let's continue by changing the definition of "universe," but, once again, fixing it, holding it constant throughout the whole argument:
P1: Anything that began had a cause.
P2: the partaverse (some things that exist, but not everything, and definitely not including gods) began.
C: Therefore, the partaverse (some things, but definitely not gods) began.
What does that get you? What good is that to theists? Would any theist field that argument for any purpose? After all, we already know that some things are caused. We don't need gods for that.
No, for the argument to seem interesting, the first "universe" (the one in P2) has to be everything that exists. We're talking about the ultimate cause here, right, how everything began?
And for the argument to seem plausible and useful to theists, the second "universe" (the one in the conclusion) has to be smaller than the one in P2. It can't include, for instance, gods.
So, if we don't equivocate on the meaning of "universe," the argument is boring and worthless. But if we do equivocate, the argument is invalid.
I don't have a problem with that. If you started a new (and otherwise empty) universe with two rocks in space, stopped relative to each other, they would immediately start themselves (or each other, if you choose to view it that way) moving.
And I don't have a problem with that. At least not more of a problem than I have with an uncaused cause.
This one seems totally arbitrary. If an argument for uncaused causes worked at all, why would there have to be just one of them?
I assume you're joshing. I'm the one who argues that if Jehovah can be uncaused, then the rest of the universe can too. If you grant that humans can be uncaused causes, then--once again--we don't need gods.
Non-blue things are caused, obviously. Look around you. Do you see any uncaused non-blue things? You do not. We shall take it as proven (per Aquinas's inference in P1) that non-blue things are caused.
Therefore, the creator of the universe must be blue.
Note that I'm not saying this argument works. I'm saying it makes the same moves, and has the same validity, as Aquinas's version.
Am I saying something about "eternal"? That's a toughie. I often regard it as gibberish.
P1 requires infinite regress, infinity, eternality. P2 denies the same. Yet the conclusion often says gods are eternal.
I don't always regard it as gibberish. But, in the first cause argument, it is used that way.
Outside of the first cause argument, it means on and on, endlessly and forever.
Good question. Let's posit an eternal regress. Wednesday was caused by Tuesday, right, and Tuesday by Monday? And so on all the way back forever? Maybe not, but let's stipulate that that's true.
In that case, Wednesday is caused, Tuesday is caused, and every other part of eternity is caused. I don't see any uncaused parts. I want to conclude that the whole thing is caused.
That may not be a compelling argument, but it is how I lean when I'm thinking about that topic.
On the other hand, quantum physicists tell us that some things are uncaused. The big bang was, at first, small enough to be uncaused. But, of course, the big bang isn't eternal.
So what am I saying? This is confusing. Wait, let me read your question again:
No. No, I never said that.
It would take a miracle. But the Trinity are miracle-throwing gods, so that shouldn't be a problem.
If you keep talking that way, pretty soon causes will have to precede effects. You know what that gets us: eternality, infinite regress.
I'm not with you. Absurdity has flavors?
If a consensus of experts tells me that eternality is real, then I'll have to accept it.
But for now, the people who tell me it can't be real in P2 are telling me it is real in C. That kind of eternality is certainly absurd.
P1: Some things are caused. Others, maybe not.
P2: Some things are not caused.
C: Therefore, some things are not caused.
It doesn't get you gods. It's circular, invalid. And I have doubts about the premises.
But we have definite progress toward validity.
Every observed cause precedes its effect. According to the inferential logic of P1, we should conclude that all causes precede effects.
But, if we don't want to do that, we aren't being any more absurd if we put causes after effects than we are if we make them simultaneous. You can't arbitrarily declare that after-causes are wrong but simultaneous-causes are okay.
That's whimsy, not logic.
There was nothing before time. By definition.
"Just not a temporal kind of 'before,'" is gibberish.
I'm not familiar with that. I've told this story before, presumably here, and possibly to you, but I don't know:
In A Brief History of Time, Hawking said the big bang was the beginning, but then he hedged, saying something like, "At least we can call it the beginning, since we don't know what came before."
Asimov made the same move in one of his books.
I am not aware of any scientific consensus that the big bang was the actual beginning. We don't know what (or whether anything) happened before, but that doesn't make it the ultimate start of everything.
Internet Christians often assert that science does claim the big bang is the beginning. I tend to ignore them after they decline to provide evidence of any such scientific consensus.
But, one time, some years ago now, one internet Christian was adamant. He wouldn't provide citations, but he insisted that I was out of date, that such a consensus did now exist.
So, due diligence, I went up on campus; I found a cosmologist; I put him the question of whether such a consensus existed.
He said, "Nobody knows what happened before the big bang! Nobody knows what happened before the big bang! Nobody knows what happened before the big bang!"
My conclusion must remain, then, that I have no reason to assume that the big bang was the beginning.
Before you ask whether I'm saying that there was time before the big bang, I'll quote Bertrand Russell, as I am so often forced to do:
Russell said something like this: "When the experts are agreed, the layman does well not to take the opposite position. When the experts are not agreed, the layman does well not to take any position."
I do not have a position on this question. I don't know whether the big bang was the beginning.
If you say it was, the burden of proof is on you.
Oh, oh, lemme at it!
Except it's dinner time. Once again, I'll be back.
Post 25: Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:33 pm
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I don't know why you say that.
Take virtual particles as an example: They begin without cause.
What other example of an uncaused thing do we have? According to the inferential logic of P1, we should conclude that all uncaused things have beginnings.
There's no way you can support that claim.
And, regardless of that, there's no way to define "beginning" so that gods don't begin but the rest of the universe does.
Here, I'll give it a shot. I'll say that something begins if there is a point in time such that it exists after that time but doesn't exist before it.
Crude enough, but I'm happy with that as a first attempt.
Now let's stipulate, for the sake of argument, that time didn't exist before the big bang, and that it has existed ever since then. It follows that time began. It exists from the big bang until now, and it didn't exist before the big bang. Time began.
Now let's look at Jehovah. Again, for the sake of argument, we'll stipulate that he exists now, and that he has existed ever since the big bang. But he can't have existed before that, since we stipulated that there was no time before that. Thus, if we don't equivocate, if use use a single meaning of "begin" throughout the whole argument, it follows that Jehovah began.
I think you'll find that that's true of every definition you try. Either gods began and the rest of the universe began too, or gods didn't begin and the rest of the universe didn't begin either.
In which case, your attempt to distinguish gods by their unbegun-ness fails.
So you concede that the first cause argument, by itself, won't get us far. But you think it can establish that a single uncaused thing caused everything else. And you think other arguments, equally good, can establish that this single uncaused thing is a god.
You have my full attention. I want to see how you go about this.
Post 26: Mon Jun 10, 2019 3:26 pm
Like this post (1): wiploc
My reading of Barker's book spurred this thread because I think he doesn't understand what the Kalam claims. I've found that many critiques of many arguments (not just theistic ones) are off-base because they misunderstand what the argument has even claimed. So, my intent is clarity of what is claimed in the Kalam, not to argue for or against it. I also think you may be misunderstanding Aquinas' second way, as well.
I'd put his argument like this:
P1: Some things are caused. (Others maybe not).
P2: Things that are caused must either be self-caused, caused by an infinite chain of caused causes, or caused by something uncaused.
P3: Self-causation is logically impossible.
P4: An infinite chain of caused causes is logically impossible.
C: Therefore, (at least) one uncaused cause (first cause) must exist that is ultimately responsible for the existence of caused things.
The "at least" one is not explicitly stated in the second question of the Summa (the part that gives the five ways), but Aquinas does argue for God being one in question 11, article 3, so I don't think he's arguing for the whole universe having one uncaused cause in question 2. "God" is an initial placeholder of sorts at question 2 that continues to be fleshed out throughout the Summa in various ways.
To clarify, my response above where I wrote "(things that exist)" should have read "(things that begin to exist)". I'm not sure if that informed your above response or not. I don't think the meaning of universe shifts in the Kalam. Premise 2 uses universe to mean the physical universe, not "everything that exists".
Could you explain what you mean here further? What do you mean by space? Why would the rocks start moving?
I'm not saying humans are uncaused causes. I'm using this to help us think about what is being said. If humans were uncaused causes, then they would be the first cause of the rock moving in that example. The whole system would logically work. Without a first cause that itself is uncaused, then all we have are intermediate causes and the system just doesn't logically work. It's like having a clock with an infinite amount of gears, but no power causing the gears to move. With no power causing the infinite amount of gears to move, time isn't being measured (i.e., there is no ultimate effect). The whole system doesn't work; you need a first cause, possibly intermediate causes, and the ultimate effect being talked about. Humans are not uncaused, but rely on various other causes, so they are actually intermediate causes. That doesn't change that we need a first cause to make the whole system logically work.
I know you are saying that; I'm disagreeing that they are parallel. To be parallel, I think you'd have to argue something like the following (based off how I laid out Aquinas' argument above):
P1: Non-blue things are caused.
P2: Things that are caused must either be caused by things that are blue, partially blue, or non-blue.
P3: A partially blue cause is logically impossible.
P4: A non-blue cause is logically impossible.
C: Therefore, the cause of non-blue things must be blue.
Although I think there is support for Aquinas' P1, but not "yours" above about non-blue things being caused.
How does "everything that begins to exist has a cause" require an infinite regress, infinity, eternality? It says nothing about that possible category of items. Premise 2 denies eternality for the physical universe. The extended argument then reasons towards the necessity of an eternal cause for the universe.
It would take a miracle. But the Trinity are miracle-throwing gods, so that shouldn't be a problem./quote]
I don't see how a miracle could overcome logic. A miracle cannot make a round square or a married bachelor.
I don't see how my line of thought leads there.
Some things can be illogical by definition (like a married bachelor or round square). Some things can be shown illogical because they cannot co-exist with another thing. This second "flavor of absurdity" is what JL Mackie used to think of the omni-God and evil in the world. I was saying that self-causation is illogical by definition. The concept of an eternal existence is not logically incoherent in that way.
God comes in through the extended argument, not just P1, P2, and the first conclusion.
After causes are ruled out by logic. If a cause does not exist, it cannot cause any effect. Non-existent things don't cause anything because there is a complete absence of power to actualize anything.
The extended Kalam does not just arbitrarily declare simultaneous causes are okay. There is nothing logically incoherent with the concept itself (unlike after-causes). Now, of course, temporal causes precede their effects. Premise 1 of the Kalam proper does not make a pronouncement either way about whether temporal causes are the only kinds of causes or not. Premise 2 then says that the universe has a cause, but we also have the assertion that time came into existence at the beginning of the universe. If this is correct about time, the cause of the universe, logically, could not have a cause that is temporally prior to it. It is a logical conclusion, then, that the cause of the universe was not temporal. If cause and effect is a temporal thing, and time began at some point, then at the first moment of time the cause/effect has to have been simultaneous (temporally speaking) or logically prior without being temporally prior. That's not whimsy, but following the reasoning.
I thought you were saying that even if the standard Big Bang model were true, this doesn't mean that the cause of the universe needed to be God. That's why I said that proponents offer further argument to characteristics that would rule out material, impersonal causes as being the needed uncaused cause. I agree that there is no scientific consensus here. Like I said earlier, if one does not believe there is sufficient scientific evidence for the beginning of the universe, then proponents of the Kalam also offer philosophical arguments that must be dealt with.
They may not have an efficient cause, but there is at least a material cause. There is the quantum vacuum. Without that, there are no virtual particles.
What do you mean? Even Hume supposedly said that he never claimed that something might arise without a cause. Are you saying that cause/effect is not 100% certain? That it's not the most plausible option? That effects can be caused, yet also pre-exist the cause? Something else?
This formulation assumes that temporal causes are the only kinds of causes. It assumes nothing timeless could exist, by definition not argumentation. If that definition is correct, then what you've said follows, but why think that is correct?
I wonder at your use of "concede". I have never not acknowledged this, so I will assume that you are not implying that I am grudgingly acknowledging something I formerly did not. Yes, the Kalam proper (Everything that begins to exist has a cause / The universe began to exist / Therefore, the universe had a cause) alone does not say anything about God's existence. Nor does it establish a single, uncaused thing yet. When we explore what the cause must be like further (what I've been saying is the extended Kalam, like Divine Insight partitioned out) we encounter lines of reasoning that assert that the (ultimate) cause of the physical universe must be uncaused, personal, etc.
I'm fine (for this thread) to look at what is claimed in those further arguments, but I really want this to be about understanding what the arguments claim, how they argue to the conclusions, rather than a debate about whether the reasoning is good or not. After this thread, I'd be happy to explore that further question with you and anyone else.
Post 27: Mon Jun 10, 2019 3:26 pm
Like this post (1): wiploc
|Replying to post 23 by William]
Do you believe that there is an eternal being/reality "behind" the form of the universe? That the universe is a new state of something that has eternally existed? Or do you think the universe is made up of "stuff" that is not eternal and is then inhabited by an eternal being?
Post 28: Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:56 pm
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|The Tanager: You seem to be arguing that eternal entities could be created by God, but the example you give to support that are beings that only think they are eternal, when, in fact, they are not actually eternal.
The Tanager: Do you believe that there is an eternal being/reality "behind" the form of the universe?
William: How I put the way I see things is in the parable I shared with Waterfall and mentioned in a prior post.
As a Christian Panentheist I explain it as the following parable;
I got into argument with my sibling Spirits about the nature of GOD and if there was one. The problem with my argument was that my siblings and I had never not existed, so if GOD was a 'creator' but we had always existed, how then could GOD exist?
My argument was that GOD could still exist.
Consequently the idea for creating the VoP VR device was to allow for a way in which to explore the idea of GOD from the position of never having any memory of always ever having being.
It was tasked to me to be the one to experience never having ever being, and I do not know how that made me feel as a being who had always existed, to have to lose all memory of my self. Perhaps I felt nothing and just accepted that the loss would be temporal - it was just an experiment to see if an answer could be found for the BIG Q.
My answer to your question - given the above parable is "Yes. I do believe that there is an eternal being/reality "behind" the form of the universe?"
The Tanager: That the universe is a new state of something that has eternally existed?
William: Yes. It is a Virtual Reality. A simulated universe. The potential stuff of the universe remains inert until activated by an eternal being interacting with it.
The Tanager: Or do you think the universe is made up of "stuff" that is not eternal and is then inhabited by an eternal being?
William: The 'stuff' is what scientist mathematicians refer to as the quantum field. As one thing it is inert. There is no reason to think that it is not an eternal thing in that status...
When it is activated, it becomes many things, depending upon the nature of the eternal being activating it, and can continue for as long as the intent of the eternal being specifies, in relation to its usefulness.
Post 29: Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:39 am
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|Replying to post 28 by William]
Okay, so previously I thought you were disagreeing with P1 (by saying some things that truly begin to exist are uncaused). Now I interpret you to be disagreeing with P2 (by arguing that the beginning of our universe is a transformation of something eternal). Am I understanding you correctly? If so, that would be an on-point critique of the Kalam where one would need to weigh the support and rebuttals for each position.[
Post 30: Sun Jun 16, 2019 2:58 am
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|Replying to post 4 by wiploc]
The problem with this (as I noted from my interactions with For_The_Kingdom) is that each argument therefore doesn't stand on its own, it requires other arguments to support it. FtK inserted Kalam as a fait accompli in his argument with myself on the Modal Ontological Argument (and with you, if I recall correctly, wiploc?). And then Modal (and other arguments I presume) need Kalam. So we then end up in an endless circle of arguments needing other arguments needing the original argument we started with, and my response is to repeat the computer from the movie Wargames
"The winning move is not to play".