An invitation to debate Stevil on the Kalam Cosmological Argument
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25-03-2014, 10:10 PM (This post was last modified: 26-03-2014 03:34 AM by Stevil.)
RE: An invitation to debate Stevil on the Kalam Cosmological Argument
I've read up more on the "Causal principle" and I understand where Jeremy is now coming from.

The principle is a philosophical hint regarding events.
It suggests that if an event occurs then we ought to search for a cause.
I think this is an agreeable principle and scientists would do well to heed its direction.

However,
What the principle isn't, is a scientifically verified Physical law.
The principle isn't a natural law.
It is merely a hint providing no understanding (in of itself) of reality.

Jeremy is correct in stating that the "Causal principle" is not invalidated by the speculation that prior to the big bang there may not have been a universe containing the natural laws we observe today.

The scientific method is a method of discovery and verification. Only with competent application of the scientific method can we come to any understanding of the characteristics, properties and attributes of our universe to a degree that we can have knowledge as to what is plausible.

What Jeremy fails to understand is that the "Causal principle" offers no understanding of our universe, or its characteristics, properties or attributes nor does it offer any understanding of the pre-universe if there ever was one.

A premise such as "Everything that begins to exist, has a cause." has no weight because it has not been observed or verified by the scientific method. Jeremy has pointed to the "Causal principle" as his supporting evidence underlying this premise. But that principle is merely an unsubstantiated hint. The scientific method has thus far never observed or verified any "begins to exist" event nor any hypothetical cause.

There are many other situations where the Causal principle has failed scientists.
E.g. in the event of two stationary objects in free space eventually colliding. There is no cause, no force which brings these objects together. They merely collide due to the nature of SpaceTime.

The "Causal principle" has thus far failed to lead scientists to discover any cause for radioactive decay or for quantum tunneling.

This is not to say that there are no causes for these events, but it clearly screams that it is disingenuous to claim there is a cause for these events let alone a cause for all events.
Especially with regards to a speculative "begins to exist" event, an event which has never been observed and which would violate the conservation of energy law.

Quite clearly we know that the expansion cycle of our universe had a beginning (the big bang) but there is no evidence, no logic that gives us a plausible understanding that this expansion event was also a creation event.

It is great that the "Causal principle" has been dreamed up as a hint asking the question of scientists "What was the cause (if any) of that observed event?"

But scientist have much to do in order to gain a plausible understanding to whether the energy that makes up our universe ever "began to exist" or is eternal.

If they ever discover that energy "began to exist" then it would make sense to use the "Causal principle" as a hint and to search for a cause to the event (even if there were no cause).

As it is the plausible options are
1 - Energy is eternal
2 - Energy began to exist (this violates the conservation of energy law)

And if 2 where true then the plausible options are
2a - Energy begins to exist in a probabilistic nature (all observed quantum change events have thus far been probabilistic - without cause)
2b - There was a cause for energy to begin to exist

As I see it, Jeremy needs to convince us that the option
Energy began to exist (violating the conservation of energy law) is more plausible than Energy is eternal.

If Jeremy is able to show that the "Energy began to exist" is plausible and favorable then he also needs to show that it is more plausible for it to have a cause rather than be probabilistic.

Jeremy cannot simply point to a philosophical hint such as the "Causality principle" he needs to show how the scientific method supports his assertion as to which option is more plausible.
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26-03-2014, 05:51 PM
RE: An invitation to debate Stevil on the Kalam Cosmological Argument
(25-03-2014 10:10 PM)Stevil Wrote:  I think this is an agreeable principle and scientists would do well to heed its direction.

That is great. Then you agree with premise 1.

Now, in order to avoid the conclusion of the argument, you must deny premise 2:

2. The universe began to exist.

You already have the support I have given for this premise.

What is your response to it?
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26-03-2014, 06:16 PM
RE: An invitation to debate Stevil on the Kalam Cosmological Argument
(26-03-2014 05:51 PM)Jeremy E Walker Wrote:  
(25-03-2014 10:10 PM)Stevil Wrote:  I think this is an agreeable principle and scientists would do well to heed its direction.

That is great. Then you agree with premise 1.
Did you read my post?
Did you comprehend my post?

I'll highlight the bit particular to premise 1
Quote:The scientific method is a method of discovery and verification. Only with competent application of the scientific method can we come to any understanding of the characteristics, properties and attributes of our universe to a degree that we can have knowledge as to what is plausible.

What Jeremy fails to understand is that the "Causal principle" offers no understanding of our universe, or its characteristics, properties or attributes nor does it offer any understanding of the pre-universe if there ever was one.

A premise such as "Everything that begins to exist, has a cause." has no weight because it has not been observed or verified by the scientific method. Jeremy has pointed to the "Causal principle" as his supporting evidence underlying this premise. But that principle is merely an unsubstantiated hint. The scientific method has thus far never observed or verified any "begins to exist" event nor any hypothetical cause.
and
Quote:There are many other situations where the Causal principle has failed scientists.
E.g. in the event of two stationary objects in free space eventually colliding. There is no cause, no force which brings these objects together. They merely collide due to the nature of SpaceTime.

The "Causal principle" has thus far failed to lead scientists to discover any cause for radioactive decay or for quantum tunneling.

This is not to say that there are no causes for these events, but it clearly screams that it is disingenuous to claim there is a cause for these events let alone a cause for all events.
Especially with regards to a speculative "begins to exist" event, an event which has never been observed and which would violate the conservation of energy law.
and
Quote:If Jeremy is able to show that the "Energy began to exist" is plausible and favorable then he also needs to show that it is more plausible for it to have a cause rather than be probabilistic.

So please address those points. Show why you believe the "Causal Principle" to hold more weight than a mere hint. Provide us with your excuses as to why the Causal Principle has not proven to be true in the field of quantum mechanics. Explain your excuse as to why the Causal Principle is exempt with regards to stationary objects in space that eventually collide (uncaused) given that gravity isn't a force.

Convince us that the Causal Principle is not just verbal flatulation when it comes to the speculative unprecedented, unobserved, "violation of known physical laws" event of energy beginning to exist.

Your turnConsider
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27-03-2014, 06:11 AM
RE: An invitation to debate Stevil on the Kalam Cosmological Argument
I am convinced that the causal principle is more than just a hint because it is repeatedly confirmed and never falsified in our experience.

You act like I am saying something totally unheard of here. Effects have causes.

If you disagree then you affirm things can come into existence without a cause.
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27-03-2014, 12:07 PM
RE: An invitation to debate Stevil on the Kalam Cosmological Argument
(27-03-2014 06:11 AM)Jeremy E Walker Wrote:  I am convinced that the causal principle is more than just a hint because it is repeatedly confirmed and never falsified in our experience.
Our experience is within the confines of our own observable universe and as you have stated we cannot assume the physical laws apply beyond that. So at least you recognise that the causal principle isn't a physical law (at least that's something).
But the only way you can accept that the causal principle still applies outside of our observable universe is to degrade its strength from a law to merely a hint. Hints are fine, we don't need to prove them, they don't need to stand up to scientific rigour.

One key aspect of the scientific method is that of falsifiability. All valid hypothesis, theories and laws are required to be falsifiable.
Do you realise that the causal principle isn't falsifiable.
It says that an effect has a cause. We see the effect of radioactive decay. We can accurately calculate the halflife and can confirm this, validate it. But scientists have never found a cause for radioactive decay. What proof can they provide that there isn't a cause? No doubt you will insist that their is a cause by pointing to the Causal Principle hint but as you can see, it is unfalsifiable, which means it is unscientific.
We cannot prove that Big foot doesn't exist, we cannot prove that ghosts don't exist because when we have searched and come up with nothing the believers tell us we didn't look in the right places.

When you say the Causation principle has been confirmed, well, that is a mighty stretch as a "begins to exist" event has never been observed, not even within our observable universe. It can't be observed because it would violate the Conservation of Energy law.

(27-03-2014 06:11 AM)Jeremy E Walker Wrote:  You act like I am saying something totally unheard of here. Effects have causes.
In the last hundred years or so, scientists have been exploring quantum mechanics. Its been a head scratching non intuitive endeavor which has provided much advancement in science and technology. The early universe is more quantum than classical physics because when it started there were no atoms, just lots of energy and possibly some sub atomic particles. I would suggest you get some Quantum Physics books out from the library, its an exciting world. One of the key findings is that at the quantum level things are probabilistic rather than deterministic, in lay terms it means that things happen based on probability rather than cause and effect.


(27-03-2014 06:11 AM)Jeremy E Walker Wrote:  If you disagree then you affirm things can come into existence without a cause.
You haven't even fulfilled your burdon of proof to show that there was no energy around prior to the big bang. You need to prove this to support your assertion in premise 2 that energy began to exist. How do you go about proving that there was no quantum vacuum prior to the big bang when the smartest scientists that ever lived have no idea what was around prior to the big bang? Consider
Without being able to support your assertion on premise 2 you have to admit that premise 2 isn't more plausible than its negation.

If you are able to somehow come up with convincing support for premise 2 you then need to show that the beginning event of energy (or the quantum vacuum) requires a cause, because as you can clearly see, there is no precedent for such an event.
Premise 1 "Everything that began to exist, has a cause" is disingenuous because it intentionally tries to hide the fact that science has never observed anything to begin to exist and science has never observed a cause for a begins to exist event. There is no precedent for such a thing, where as the premise tries to make out that there is and that it is the rule rather than the exception. No

now please provide your supporting evidence for the assertions you have presented as your premises.
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27-03-2014, 12:53 PM
RE: An invitation to debate Stevil on the Kalam Cosmological Argument
Did I not already present it?
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27-03-2014, 02:21 PM
RE: An invitation to debate Stevil on the Kalam Cosmological Argument
(27-03-2014 12:53 PM)Jeremy E Walker Wrote:  Did I not already present it?
Present what?
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27-03-2014, 02:42 PM
RE: An invitation to debate Stevil on the Kalam Cosmological Argument
(27-03-2014 02:21 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(27-03-2014 12:53 PM)Jeremy E Walker Wrote:  Did I not already present it?
Present what?

supporting evidence for the assertions I have presented as my premises which you keep asking for.
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27-03-2014, 03:01 PM (This post was last modified: 27-03-2014 03:04 PM by Stevil.)
RE: An invitation to debate Stevil on the Kalam Cosmological Argument
(27-03-2014 02:42 PM)Jeremy E Walker Wrote:  supporting evidence for the assertions I have presented as my premises which you keep asking for.
...but the only "evidence" you provided in support of premise 1 was your mention of the Causality Principle.
I've dismantled this by explaining why the causality principle isn't a scientific law (it isn't falsifiable) and by informing you that it hasn't proven to be correct in the field of quantum physics and that it hasn't proven to be correct in any instance of a "begins to exist" event, let alone every "begins to exist" event.

I sympathise with you that this task at hand must be incredibly daunting to you. It would be task too daunting for the best and brightest scientists on the Earth today. But it is your burden because you made the claim. Your whole syllogism hangs off the validity of your unsupported premise.
"Everything that begins to exist, had a cause"

I would think you would be motivated (if not to me, but to yourself) to at least try to find valid evidence to support your claim.
Otherwise you must retract this assertion, remove the premise and either give-up on the KCA or go back to hunting the internet for a valid form of the argument which does not hinge on the Causality principle.
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27-03-2014, 04:06 PM
RE: An invitation to debate Stevil on the Kalam Cosmological Argument
(27-03-2014 03:01 PM)Stevil Wrote:  ...but the only "evidence" you provided in support of premise 1 was your mention of the Causality Principle.

There are three individual arguments used to support premise 1:

1. the causal premise is rooted in the metaphysical intuition that something cannot come into being from nothing. To suggest that things could just pop into being uncaused out of nothing is to quit doing serious metaphysics and to resort to magic.
2. Second, if things really could come into being uncaused out of nothing, then it becomes inexplicable why just anything and everything do not come into existence uncaused from nothing.
3. Finally, the first premise is constantly confirmed in our experience, which provides atheists who are scientific naturalists with the strongest of motivations to accept it.


(27-03-2014 03:01 PM)Stevil Wrote:  I've dismantled this by explaining why the causality principle isn't a scientific law (it isn't falsifiable)

So what its not a scientific law. I never stated it was. It is a metaphysical principle. The causal principle is falsifiable, in fact you claim in your very next point to have falsified it by alluding to quantum physics!!!WeepingFacepalm


(27-03-2014 03:01 PM)Stevil Wrote:  and by informing you that it hasn't proven to be correct in the field of quantum physics and that it hasn't proven to be correct in any instance of a "begins to exist" event, let alone every "begins to exist" event.

Does quantum physics falsify the causal principle as you claim it does. Not at all. Here are several reasons why virtual particles are not an example of something coming to exist from nothing:

Wholly apart from the disputed question of whether virtual particles really exist at all,* the central point to be made here is that the quantum mechanical vacuum on which they depend for their existence is emphatically not nothing. The dynamical properties of vacuous space arise out of its interaction with matter and radiation fields, in the absence of which “this dynamism of empty space is but a formal abstraction lacking physical reality.”** The quantum vacuum is a sea of fluctuating energy which gives rise to virtual particles. Thus, virtual particles can hardly be said to arise without a cause. Virtual particles are fluctuations of the energy in the vacuum. The quantum vacuum is not nothing. It is a roiling sea of energy. The German philosopher of science Bernulf Kanitscheider emphasizes that in so-called quantum creation events we're dealing with "a causal process leading from a primordial substratum with a rich physical structure to a materialized substratum of the vacuum. Admittedly this process is not deterministic, it includes that weak kind of causal dependence peculiar to every quantum mechanical process" (Bernulf Kanitscheider, "Does Physical Cosmology Transcend the Limits of Naturalistic Reasoning?" in Studies on Mario Bunge's "Treatise," ed. Weingartner and G. J. W. Doen [Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1990], pp. 346-74). Bold mine...


*See Robert Weingard, “Do Virtual Particles Exist?’ in Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association, 2 vols., ed. Peter Asquith and Thomas Nichols (East Lansing, Mich.: Philosophy of Science association 1982), I: 235-242.

** Alexander W. Stern, “Space, Field, and Ether in Contemporary Physics,” Science 116 (1952): 493. Stern is even willing to speak of the quantum vacuum as a sort of ether.


From the above it is seen that your allusion to quantum physics as a falsification for the causal principle is simply unfounded.

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