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The Tanager
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 10:55 am  Understanding the Kalam Cosmological Argument Reply with quote

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 BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 21: Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:50 pm
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I'm confused. What is our topic?

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.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 22: Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:07 pm
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The Tanager wrote:

wiploc wrote:
No, no. My take is that the proponent of this argument wants you to think things are caused. At this point, all things. Yes, he'll make an exception later, but you never see this premise phrased to explicitly claim that some things are caused.


I disagree. Aquinas starts with the observation of the "world of sense", which would not include supernatural beings. And Aquinas isn't assuming the supernatural exists in doing this either, he's just not automatically ruling it out. He's starting with things we can physically sense and seeing what we can find out from those observations, eventually concluding that they point to the existence of something outside of the "world of sense". Therefore, I don't see how his conclusion is a later exception to what he first states.


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.




Quote:

wiploc wrote:
The argument wouldn't go anywhere from that limited premise. Suppose we grant that some things are caused and others aren't. How would we get gods out of that?

If some things are caused and others not, then we have no need of a single first cause of everything else.


As I see it, the argument doesn't answer whether there are actual things in each category to start. It looks at a category the proponent claims we know some stuff about (things that exist) and then claims the universe is in that category, but (when the argument is extended) that the cause of the universe has certain characteristics that show it must be in the other category.


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 ...






Quote:

wiploc wrote:
That's a charitable reading. I don't have a problem with charitable readings. They let us investigate whether an argument can be formed in a way that works.

If there is a workable form of the first cause argument, I want to know about it.

But I have no suspicion that the average Christian working at the next lathe or desk shares your sophisticated interpretation.


Well, the principle of charity is an excellent thing to use, but I really don't think it is that charitable to Aquinas. I would call it a knowledgeable reading. I would agree that the average person would not have that reading, but that's because they haven't put in the effort. That's the same with any subject.

wiploc wrote:
That third one seems arbitrary and self serving. You happen to believe in that god, so you put it in the list.


The third one is not a synonym for a god, it's just the third logical possibility. If a rock is moving, we can ask why. Either the rock (1) caused itself to move, (2) there is an infinite chain of causation to trace back, or (3) there is some first cause thing responsible for it moving. Perhaps a human is the first cause, holding a stick that pushed the rock.

wiploc wrote:
Suppose I worshiped a blue god. I'd say that things that aren't blue need causes. And I'd make a list of possible universal causes that include my blue god, plus other choices that are supposed to be dismissed at first glance by worshipers of the blue god.


Well, you wouldn't be doing what Aquinas or the KCA does, then. Aquinas says things that are caused cannot be self-caused and that there can't be an infinite chain of these causes, but that their must be an ultimate first cause that is itself uncaused. Otherwise the whole system wouldn't logically work.

With the Kalam, are you saying that eternal things need causes, too?

wiploc wrote:
My mother and sister-in-law have informed me that god created himself. You obviously reject that yourself, but how do you manage to reject that as absurd while accepting the uncaused first cause? Which is weirder? Which is less palatable?


Because self-causation is absolutely absurd. You have to exist to be a cause of something. This is asking something to exist before it exists so that it can cause itself to exist. It's absurd by the very definition. The concept of an eternal existence is not absurd in that way.

wiploc wrote:
And why did you neglect to mention the possibilities of two uncaused first causes, thirty-seven uncaused first causes, and an infinity of uncaused first causes?


I did not mean to imply that. There would need to be further argument to claim there is only one first cause or beginningless cause of the universe. I was thinking of the third option in the sense of there being at least one uncaused thing, but could have been more explicit in that.

wiploc wrote:
Only if you believe in causes that precede effects. William Lane Craig denies that. When he gets into the first cause argument, he says that god created time. How can time be an effect if there was no prior cause? And how can there be a prior cause if there was no time before time?

Craig's way out of that hole is to deny that causes come before effects. If he's right about that, then the big bang may turn out to eventually be caused by the Large Hadron Collider.

In which case, we don't need a first cause.


Denying that causes come before effects is not the same thing as saying effects can precede their causes. Cause/effect (in a sense) are simultaneous, but the cause is still logically prior. I didn't actually become a cause (for example, fathering a child) until the moment an effect was created. I'm still a cause of my child coming into existence. Without me, that child isn't coming to be. Here you seem to be faulting cause/effect without time for how cause/effect acts within time. There is a "before" time, just not a temporal kind of "before" since time would not have existed.

wiploc wrote:
And if we granted that some things don't need causes, then, once again, we no longer need a god. Why can't, for instance, the big bang be uncaused?


Other options get ruled out by other reasoning (but of course the reasoning can be flawed). My point is that God isn't just thrown in to fill a gap by a believer. At least, not if done right. The big bang theories assert that there is a beginning. Uncaused things don't have beginnings. To be caused is to have a beginning. God is the conclusion after arguments for the cause needing to be personal and all of that.

wiploc wrote:
Is that stranger, less palatable, less logical, than an uncaused loving god who tortures people forever? An uncaused omnipotent god who can't defeat iron chariots? An omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent god who coexists with evil? A god who can be seen but can't be seen?


After the KCA, then we get into these other kinds of things about whether God tortures people forever, why an omnipotent God may not choose to defeat iron chariots, chooses to reveal itself in certain ways, allows evil, etc.

wiploc wrote:
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So, the existence of some uncaused, first cause is logically necessary as the only option left.


No. You arbitrarily shortened your list of possible origins from infinity to just three, and then you picked the one you liked without showing any reason to think it more plausible than the others.


What are the other options?

wiploc wrote:
P1: Some things have causes.
P2: Some things don't have causes.
C: I get to decide what things don't have causes, and I pick my own god.

That's an interpretation consistent with the source material, and also consistent with your theory that a wise professor could fill in the missing premises to make the argument come out right.

Okay, the conclusion is a bit lippy. But what you're really saying is that the argument doesn't work by itself, which is also what I'm saying.


The conclusion is completely off. Aquinas does not just throw in his own god at the end. In the five ways (which must be taken all together) he's arguing for classical theism (he gets to the Christian God later in the Summa). One way is not meant to be taken separately from the rest (and the objection/replies as well). So, I think your interpretation is out of context and therefore not consistent with the source material. Now, whether Aquinas' argument of the five ways is convincing is another matter, or whether there are stronger cases for classical theism.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post 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.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 24: Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:54 pm
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[quote="wiploc"]
[quote="The Tanager"]
wiploc wrote:

So let's fix the definition, to see if the argument can work that way:


By "fix," I meant hold constant, to not equivocate. I didn't mean fix as in repair.




Quote:

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 ...


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.





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The third one is not a synonym for a god, it's just the third logical possibility. If a rock is moving, we can ask why. Either the rock (1) caused itself to move,


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.



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(2) there is an infinite chain of causation to trace back,


And I don't have a problem with that. At least not more of a problem than I have with an uncaused cause.



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or (3) there is some first cause thing responsible for it moving.


This one seems totally arbitrary. If an argument for uncaused causes worked at all, why would there have to be just one of them?



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Perhaps a human is the first cause, holding a stick that pushed the rock.


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.



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wiploc wrote:
Suppose I worshiped a blue god. I'd say that things that aren't blue need causes. And I'd make a list of possible universal causes that include my blue god, plus other choices that are supposed to be dismissed at first glance by worshipers of the blue god.


Well, you wouldn't be doing what Aquinas or the KCA does, then. Aquinas says things that are caused cannot be self-caused and that there can't be an infinite chain of these causes, but that their must be an ultimate first cause that is itself uncaused. Otherwise the whole system wouldn't logically work.


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.



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Quote:

With the Kalam, are you saying that eternal things need causes, too?


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.





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With the Kalam, are you saying that eternal things need causes, too?


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:




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With the Kalam, are you saying that eternal things need causes, too?


No. No, I never said that.





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wiploc wrote:
My mother and sister-in-law have informed me that god created himself. You obviously reject that yourself, but how do you manage to reject that as absurd while accepting the uncaused first cause? Which is weirder? Which is less palatable?


Because self-causation is absolutely absurd.


It would take a miracle. But the Trinity are miracle-throwing gods, so that shouldn't be a problem.



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You have to exist to be a cause of something. This is asking something to exist before it exists so that it can cause itself to exist. It's absurd by the very definition.


If you keep talking that way, pretty soon causes will have to precede effects. You know what that gets us: eternality, infinite regress.



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The concept of an eternal existence is not absurd in that way.


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.



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wiploc wrote:
And why did you neglect to mention the possibilities of two uncaused first causes, thirty-seven uncaused first causes, and an infinity of uncaused first causes?


I did not mean to imply that. There would need to be further argument to claim there is only one first cause or beginningless cause of the universe. I was thinking of the third option in the sense of there being at least one uncaused thing, but could have been more explicit in that.


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.




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Denying that causes come before effects is not the same thing as saying effects can precede their causes.


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.




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Here you seem to be faulting cause/effect without time for how cause/effect acts within time. There is a "before" time, just not a temporal kind of "before" since time would not have existed.


There was nothing before time. By definition.

"Just not a temporal kind of 'before,'" is gibberish.



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The big bang theories assert that there is a beginning.


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.



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Uncaused things don't have beginnings. To be caused is to have a beginning. God is the conclusion after arguments for the cause needing to be personal and all of that.


Oh, oh, lemme at it!

Except it's dinner time. Once again, I'll be back.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 25: Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:33 pm
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The Tanager wrote:

Uncaused things don't have beginnings.


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.


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To be caused is to have a beginning.


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.






Quote:

God is the conclusion after arguments for the cause needing to be personal and all of that.


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.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 26: Mon Jun 10, 2019 3:26 pm
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wiploc wrote:

I'm confused. What is our topic?

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?


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.

wiploc wrote:
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.


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.

wiploc wrote:
Quote:
As I see it, the argument doesn't answer whether there are actual things in each category to start. It looks at a category the proponent claims we know some stuff about (things that exist) and then claims the universe is in that category, but (when the argument is extended) that the cause of the universe has certain characteristics that show it must be in the other category.



The KCA seems to me invalid because the meaning of "universe" shifts between P2 and C. Surreptitious equivocation.


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".

wiploc wrote:
Quote:
The third one is not a synonym for a god, it's just the third logical possibility. If a rock is moving, we can ask why. Either the rock (1) caused itself to move,



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.


Could you explain what you mean here further? What do you mean by space? Why would the rocks start moving?

wiploc wrote:
Quote:
Perhaps a human is the first cause, holding a stick that pushed the rock.



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.


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.

wiploc wrote:
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.


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.

wiploc wrote:
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.


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.

[quote="wiploc"]
Quote:
Because self-causation is absolutely absurd.



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.

wiploc wrote:
Quote:
You have to exist to be a cause of something. This is asking something to exist before it exists so that it can cause itself to exist. It's absurd by the very definition.



If you keep talking that way, pretty soon causes will have to precede effects. You know what that gets us: eternality, infinite regress.


I don't see how my line of thought leads there.

wiploc wrote:
Quote:
The concept of an eternal existence is not absurd in that way.



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.


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.

wiploc wrote:
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.


God comes in through the extended argument, not just P1, P2, and the first conclusion.

wiploc wrote:
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.


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.

wiploc wrote:
Quote:
The big bang theories assert that there is a beginning.


...

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.


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.

wiploc wrote:
Quote:
Uncaused things don't have beginnings.



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.


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.

wiploc wrote:
Quote:
To be caused is to have a beginning.



There's no way you can support that claim.


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?

wiploc wrote:
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.


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?

wiploc wrote:
Quote:
God is the conclusion after arguments for the cause needing to be personal and all of that.


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.


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.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 27: Mon Jun 10, 2019 3:26 pm
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[Replying to post 23 by William]

William wrote:
Not when one also adds the premise that we are all eternal beings anyway.


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?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post 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.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post 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.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 30: Sun Jun 16, 2019 2:58 am
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[Replying to post 4 by wiploc]

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Craig's response was to agree. According to him, these are things we know about god from other arguments. The only thing the KCA proves is that there was a cause.

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".

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