Is this begging the question?
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30-12-2013, 05:15 PM
Is this begging the question?
I'm in a debate with someone and they've thrown a logical argument at me. It's basically a shortened version of WLC's Argument from Contingency (link: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/argument-...ontingency)

This is what they gave me.

Premise 1: Every thing that exists has an explanation for its existence.
Premise 2: The universe exists.
Conclusion: The universe has an explanation for its existence.

I had to sit on it for a while, raised some other objections, but now I think the biggest flaw is that it is begging the question, assuming the conclusion, but I could use another assessment.

Because it seems to me that if you are trying to convince me of that conclusion, you wouldn't start with a premise that includes the conclusion as part of that premise necessarily being true.

For example.
1. All dogs can juggle.
2. I have a dog.
3. My dog can juggle.

If it is not self-evident that even my own dog can juggle, then why should I accept that all dogs can juggle?

But at the same time, the argument also appears to be valid, that is, if the premises are true, then so is the conclusion. So if it is begging the question, does that mean you can have a valid argument while also commit a fallacy such as begging the question, even if it turns out your premises are true?

For example. Here is one where the premises are true and the conclusion as well, but would also seem to be begging the question. So if it is begging the question, is it not sound? Is it not valid?

1. All humans are primates.
2. I am a human.
3. I am a primate.

Or are none of these begging the question at all?

Thanks for your help. Logic is weird.
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30-12-2013, 05:22 PM
RE: Is this begging the question?
It seems OK to me.

The universe does exist (even as a hologram or just in a solipsist's mind)
There is an explanation for it.
We just don't know what that explanation is, yet.

Similarly, the christian god came from where / what?
There is no explanation for its existence.
Therefore god does not exist.

Yup. I like that.

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30-12-2013, 05:24 PM
RE: Is this begging the question?
The issue with WLC's "logical" arguments is that usually premise # 1 or # 2 are unfounded and are often carefully constructed semantically so that you can't see the flaw in them.

In your example above the first premise "Every thing that exists has an explanation for its existence" is an argument from omniscience. No one can possibly assert that the statement is true unless one possesses knowledge about everything that exists. Just starting out we have problems.

The second premise may also be faulty: "The universe exists" but I'll leave that up to you.

WLC constantly and conveniently assumes his premises are true. Sometimes even if you assume that the premises are true the conclusion does NOT necessarily follow.

In other words,
YES it is begging the question.

“The reason people use a crucifix against vampires is because vampires are allergic to bullshit.” ― Richard Pryor
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30-12-2013, 05:25 PM
RE: Is this begging the question?
And as DLJ just stated the argument can work against the theistic position.
Bravo.

“The reason people use a crucifix against vampires is because vampires are allergic to bullshit.” ― Richard Pryor
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30-12-2013, 05:36 PM
RE: Is this begging the question?
Thanks, I can take comfort in knowing I'm not crazy then. I clearly need to read up more on spotting fallacies, I spent too much time on this one.
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30-12-2013, 05:41 PM
RE: Is this begging the question?
(30-12-2013 05:36 PM)parsonf Wrote:  Thanks, I can take comfort in knowing I'm not crazy then. I clearly need to read up more on spotting fallacies, I spent too much time on this one.

Yea it can take some time. I have years of practice with a religious and manupulative mother. OUCH!

“The reason people use a crucifix against vampires is because vampires are allergic to bullshit.” ― Richard Pryor
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30-12-2013, 05:59 PM
RE: Is this begging the question?
I would actually argue that the first premise is not established well enough to take as a premise. Or you can add the premise that "some explanations are known or knowable, while some explanations are not known or not knowable."

The argument is incomplete IMO.

Edit: and like DLJ said, that is where the argument "then who/what created god?" came from. Thumbsup

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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30-12-2013, 06:04 PM
RE: Is this begging the question?
Xtians are famed for this half-assed "logic."

The bible says the tomb was empty. How else could it have gotten empty unless jesus came back from the dead?

I attribute their attitude to religion induced stupidity.

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30-12-2013, 08:18 PM
RE: Is this begging the question?
(30-12-2013 05:36 PM)parsonf Wrote:  Thanks, I can take comfort in knowing I'm not crazy then. I clearly need to read up more on spotting fallacies, I spent too much time on this one.

I think it comes close to begging the question because premise 1 and 2 are controversial enough assumptions that one might accuse WLC of assuming the conclusion.

The first premise:everything that exists has an explanation (which WLC defines as either being necessary in and of itself, or an external cause).

There is no need for the universe to have an external cause. It is possible for effects to precede causes (this has been experimentally verified recently at the quantum level). As such, the universe could have caused itself to exist (look up Krauss's youtube video on a Universe from Nothing). I have not proven that the universe has caused itself, but the point is that this premise simply cannot be assumed to be true.

Moreover, the existence of this universe "by the necessity of its own nature" is also in question. This universe that we live in may very well exist, but if the concept of the multiverse holds true and there is such a thing as a multiverse, then the necessity of the existence of any particular universe goes out the window. Read Hawking's A Grand Design for the evidence which suggests (not proves) that the universe we inhabit is an emergent phenomena out of an infinite number of universes, that the one we inhabit exists just because it can exist long enough for life to develop to ponder its existence.




The second premise:the universe exists.

We cannot know for sure whether the universe exists. It sure seems that the universe exists, but how would it look to us if the universe as we know it did not exist and this were some sort of simulation or we were somehow just the internal consciousness of some other intelligent being?

For a fair amount of our history, humanity assumed that the earth was the center of the universe because the sun and sky appeared to us as though it moved around us. In reality, of course, the earth rotates about its axis to create the illusion of the sun and celestial bodies orbiting the Earth. Our perception was an illusion that we could only overcome through more careful study and inspection.

Since we are not able to differentiate illusion from reality, this premise cannot simply be assumed to be true.




So long story short, the premises are not valid and cannot be assumed. The logic from the two premises may be ok, but the conclusion is only as sound as the assumptions.
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30-12-2013, 08:48 PM (This post was last modified: 30-12-2013 08:51 PM by Jeffasaurus.)
RE: Is this begging the question?
(30-12-2013 05:15 PM)parsonf Wrote:  I'm in a debate with someone and they've thrown a logical argument at me. It's basically a shortened version of WLC's Argument from Contingency (link: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/argument-...ontingency)

This is what they gave me.

Premise 1: Every thing that exists has an explanation for its existence.
Premise 2: The universe exists.
Conclusion: The universe has an explanation for its existence.

It seems like a perfectly reasonable conclusion to me. The problem with theists, however, is that this is where their attempts to use logic completely fail. After this point they will conclude that their God is the explanation for its existence. Every theist of every denomination of every religion will claim that it was their god(s) who is responsible. The harsh truth is that there is an equal amount of evidence that the universe was created by a 7-11 taquito that I ate last week.

The universe seems to exist, but no one has a frickin' clue as to how or why.

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