The Cosmological Arguments Haven't Been Debunked
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06-02-2017, 09:41 AM
The Cosmological Arguments Haven't Been Debunked
Many atheists I have interacted with have claimed that the cosmological arguments for God have all been debunked for years. The goal of this thread is to explain exactly why this claim is false. Let's begin with some of the basic cosmological arguments that many apologists use.

Argument from Contingency

1. A contingent being (a being such that if it exists, it could have not-existed or could cease to exist) exists.

2. This contingent being has a cause of or explanation[1] for its existence.

3. The cause of or explanation for its existence is something other than the contingent being itself.

4. What causes or explains the existence of this contingent being must either be solely other contingent beings or include a non-contingent (necessary) being.

5. Contingent beings alone cannot provide a completely adequate causal account or explanation for the existence of a contingent being.

6. Therefore, what causes or explains the existence of this contingent being must include a non-contingent (necessary) being.

7. Therefore, a necessary being (a being such that if it exists, it cannot not-exist) exists.

8. The universe is contingent.

9. Therefore, the necessary being is something other than the universe.

Source: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cosmo...onContCaus

Here, the goal is to simply establish that a necessary being exists. The main issue atheists have with this argument is generally premise 5. Many doubt this claim. Let's use another argument to justify it. Here we'll employ Aquinas' third argument.

Argument from Possibility and Necessity

1. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, that come into being and go out of being i.e., contingent beings.

2. Assume that every being is a contingent being.

3. For each contingent being, there is a time it does not exist.

4. Therefore it is impossible for these always to exist.

5. Therefore there could have been a time when no things existed.

6. Therefore at that time there would have been nothing to bring the currently existing contingent beings into existence.

7. Therefore, nothing would be in existence now.

8. We have reached an absurd result from assuming that every being is a contingent being.

9. Therefore not every being is a contingent being.

10. Therefore some being exists of its own necessity, and does not receive its existence from another being, but rather causes them. This all men speak of as God.

Here, Aquinas does a reductio ad absurdum to the view that espouses only contingent beings exist. Again, premise 5 seems to be the main issue among atheists. The usage of "could" is suspect here. There could have been a time when nothing existed doesn't mean there was a time where nothing existed. But the result is actually identical. If there was no time at which nothing existed, then "something" itself is the necessary being. Either option leads to a necessary being. And I would argue that the latter result is absurd. The existence of something itself doesn't have sufficient potency. Now mant have made the claim that this argument is special pleading. Here, I'll explain the issue with this criticism. In this argument, we make a distinction between necessary beings and contingent beings. If the argument supposed all things were contingent, then it would be ad hoc to make an exception for the first cause. But since we have made the distinction, the problem is dissolved. It would be a category error to argue necessary beings must have a cause outside themselves. Now it's certainly possible to argue against necessary beings althogether, although this might lead to absurdity. The Kalam makes the mistake of arguing that all things must be caused. This would lead to special pleading. However, it can be ammended by saying all things must be grounded. A contingent being's existence is grounded in something other than itself whereas a necessary being is grounded in itself.

Plato's Argument

"When we have one thing making a change in a second, the second, in turn, in a third, and so on—will there ever, in such a series, be a first source of change? Why, how can what is set moving by something other than itself ever be the first of the causes of alteration? The thing is an impossibility. But when something which has set itself moving alters a second thing, this second thing still a third, and the motion is thus passed on in course to thousands and tens of thousands of things, will there be any starting point for the whole movement of all, other than the change in the movements which initiated itself?"
Source: http://donemmerich.blogspot.com/2000/11/...o-and.html

In all of these arguments, the possibility of an infinite regress is rejected. If an infinite regress is possible, then the argument fails.

Impossibility of Infinity and Something from Nothing

Most philosophers today will acknowledge that actual infinites must exist in order for modern science and mathematics to work. But infinite causation is the actual issue here. Can causes regress infinitely? The answer from most philosophers is no they cannot. If nothing exists, then nothing has any potency to cause anything else to exist. This isn't to say the lack of spacetime, but the lack of anything. If nothing exists, then nothing can arise. But this isn't the only path one can take to argue against the cosmological arguments. Another path would be to argue that there was no point at which nothing existed. This avoids the problem of asserting nothing can cause something. Instead it simply states that spmething always existed by necessity. But there is a problem here. This implies that existence itself is the only necessary quality. This would lead to the same conclusion as cosmological arguments. There must be a being that is necessary. Many atheists have used this to say that the unvierse "just is". This places the universe as the necessary being. However, as mentioned before, the unvierse doesn't have potency to cause all things.

Any critiques or additions and corrections would be appreciated.

"I think part of the appeal of mathematical logic is that the formulas look mysterious - you write backward Es!" - Hilary Putnam
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06-02-2017, 10:07 AM
RE: The Cosmological Arguments Haven't Been Debunked
Would an admin be so kind as to put this back in the other thread, where we already began addressing this bozo's arguments and he decided to rage-quit and start this new thread?

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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06-02-2017, 10:17 AM
RE: The Cosmological Arguments Haven't Been Debunked
(06-02-2017 10:07 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  Would an admin be so kind as to put this back in the other thread, where we already began addressing this bozo's arguments and he decided to rage-quit and start this new thread?

The other thread was supposed to be about morality. We all got distracted. Here I decided to formally defend the claims I was making. But I don't think it's fair to claim that I rage quit. I think I decided to leave because the arguments weren't really being dealt with. I think this is because I failed to communicate them properly. This is why I made this thread.

"I think part of the appeal of mathematical logic is that the formulas look mysterious - you write backward Es!" - Hilary Putnam
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06-02-2017, 10:19 AM (This post was last modified: 06-02-2017 10:31 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: The Cosmological Arguments Haven't Been Debunked
Too bad for you, but they have long ago been debunked.

Some reasons why your arguments are known to be "invalid".
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argument_from_first_cause


"Multiple Causes
Finally, there is nothing in the argument to rule out the existence of multiple first causes. This can be seen by realizing that for any directed acyclic graphWikipedia's W.svg which represents causation in a set of events or entities, the first cause is any vertex that has zero incoming edges. This means that the argument can just as well be used to argue for polytheism.

Radioactive Decay
Through modern science, specifically physics, natural phenomena have been discovered whose causes have not yet been discerned or are non-existent. The best known example is radioactive decay. Although decay follows statistical laws and it's possible to predict the amount of a radioactive substance that will decay over a period of time, it is impossible — according to our current understanding of physics — to predict when a specific atom will disintegrate. The spontaneous disintegration of radioactive nuclei is stochastic and might be uncaused, providing an arguable counterexample to the assumption that everything must have a cause. An objection to this counterexample is that knowledge regarding such phenomena is limited and there may be an underlying but presently unknown cause. However, if the causal status of radioactive decay is unknown then the truth of the premise that 'everything has a cause' is indeterminate rather than false. In either case, the first cause argument is rendered ineffective.

Virtual Particles
Another counterexample is the spontaneous generation of virtual particles, which randomly appear even in complete vacuum. These particles are responsible for the Casimir effectWikipedia's W.svg and Hawking radiation.Wikipedia's W.svg The release of such radiation comes in the form of gamma rays, which we now know from experiment are simply a very energetic form of light at the extreme end of the electromagnetic spectrum. Consequently, as long as there has been vacuum, there has been light, even if it's not the light that our eyes are equipped to see. What this means is that long before God is ever purported to have said "Let there be light!", the universe was already filled with light, and God is rendered quite the Johnny-come-lately. Furthermore, this phenomenon is subject to the same objection as radioactive decay.

Fallacy of Composition
The argument also suffers from the fallacy of composition, being what is true of a member of a group is not necessarily true for the group as a whole. Just because most things within the universe require a cause/causes, does not mean that the universe itself requires a cause.

This is not an effective way to communicate :



Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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06-02-2017, 10:20 AM
RE: The Cosmological Arguments Haven't Been Debunked
(06-02-2017 10:07 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  Would an admin be so kind as to put this back in the other thread, where we already began addressing this bozo's arguments and he decided to rage-quit and start this new thread?

how hard has he pushed the "definitions affect the real world" envelope ?

either way I'm getting the ACX videos
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06-02-2017, 10:21 AM
RE: The Cosmological Arguments Haven't Been Debunked
"If the existence of every member of a set is explained, the existence of that set is thereby explained." - Hume-Edwards Principle

"In such a chain too, or succession of objects, each part is caused by that which preceded it, and causes that which succeeds it. Where then is the difficulty? But the WHOLE, you say, wants a cause. I answer, that the uniting of these parts into a whole, like the uniting of several distinct counties into one kingdom, or several distinct members into one body, is performed merely by an arbitrary act of the mind, and has no influence on the nature of things. Did I show you the particular causes of each individual in a collection of twenty particles of matter, I should think it very unreasonable, should you afterwards ask me, what was the cause of the whole twenty. This is sufficiently explained in explaining the cause of the parts." - Hume the Horrific

Let me see what Stanford has to say -
Objection 1: The Universe Just Is
Objection 2: Explaining the Individual Constituents Is Sufficient
Objection 3: The Principles of Causation and of Sufficient Reason Are Suspect
Objection 4: Problems with the Concept of a Necessary Being

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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06-02-2017, 10:22 AM
RE: The Cosmological Arguments Haven't Been Debunked
(06-02-2017 10:17 AM)Naielis Wrote:  The other thread was supposed to be about morality. We all got distracted. Here I decided to formally defend the claims I was making. But I don't think it's fair to claim that I rage quit. I think I decided to leave because the arguments weren't really being dealt with. I think this is because I failed to communicate them properly. This is why I made this thread.

Now don't start off by lying. It's unbecoming of a purported intellectual.

Several of us responded to your arguments, once we established you weren't just another "you atheists think _____" troll, which we get about every 48 hours, here.

Your arguments have been addressed, repeatedly. You simply did not like the answers you were getting, and tried to ensure that the debate took the format you preferred.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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06-02-2017, 10:30 AM (This post was last modified: 06-02-2017 11:00 AM by DLJ.)
RE: The Cosmological Arguments Haven't Been Debunked
(06-02-2017 10:07 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  Would an admin be so kind as to put this back in the other thread, where we already began addressing this bozo's arguments and he decided to rage-quit and start this new thread?

Requested Denied.

It's not about morality so yup, it can be a new thread.

But I'll move it to the Philosophy section because these are not arguments for Theism
... e.g.:

6. Therefore, what causes or explains the existence of this contingent being must include a non-contingent (necessary) being something else.

7. Therefore, a necessary being (a being such that if it exists, it cannot not-exist) something else exists.

Thumbsup

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06-02-2017, 10:32 AM
RE: The Cosmological Arguments Haven't Been Debunked
(06-02-2017 10:19 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Too bad for you, but they have long ago been debunked.

Some reasons why your arguments are known to be "invalid".
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argument_from_first_cause

These objections are dealt with in my post. The Kalam states that all things require a cause. I modified this claim.

(06-02-2017 10:19 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  "Multiple Causes
Finally, there is nothing in the argument to rule out the existence of multiple first causes. This can be seen by realizing that for any directed acyclic graphWikipedia's W.svg which represents causation in a set of events or entities, the first cause is any vertex that has zero incoming edges. This means that the argument can just as well be used to argue for polytheism.

I agree.

Quote:Radioactive Decay
Through modern science, specifically physics, natural phenomena have been discovered whose causes have not yet been discerned or are non-existent. The best known example is radioactive decay. Although decay follows statistical laws and it's possible to predict the amount of a radioactive substance that will decay over a period of time, it is impossible — according to our current understanding of physics — to predict when a specific atom will disintegrate. The spontaneous disintegration of radioactive nuclei is stochastic and might be uncaused, providing an arguable counterexample to the assumption that everything must have a cause. An objection to this counterexample is that knowledge regarding such phenomena is limited and there may be an underlying but presently unknown cause. However, if the causal status of radioactive decay is unknown then the truth of the premise that 'everything has a cause' is indeterminate rather than false. In either case, the first cause argument is rendered ineffective.

You stated the solution to this in the first sentence. The causes are not yet known. This doesn't mean there is no cause. You address this by saying it's indeterminate. But I disagree. The Principle of Sufficient Reason holds that all things have grounding. Contingent beings have grounding other beings. The fact that observation can't determine something doesn't mean it is indeterminate.

Quote:Virtual Particles
Another counterexample is the spontaneous generation of virtual particles, which randomly appear even in complete vacuum. These particles are responsible for the Casimir effectWikipedia's W.svg and Hawking radiation.Wikipedia's W.svg The release of such radiation comes in the form of gamma rays, which we now know from experiment are simply a very energetic form of light at the extreme end of the electromagnetic spectrum. Consequently, as long as there has been vacuum, there has been light, even if it's not the light that our eyes are equipped to see. What this means is that long before God is ever purported to have said "Let there be light!", the universe was already filled with light, and God is rendered quite the Johnny-come-lately. Furthermore, this phenomenon is subject to the same objection as radioactive decay.

I also addressed this. I probably did it a bit too briefly. When we talk about nothing, we aren't referring to the nothing within spacetime. We're talking about the lack of potency. Quantum vacuum's do not lack this potency as shown by experimentation. The Casimir affect can be accounted for in a deterministic view of QM. This means the PSR still holds.

Quote:Fallacy of Composition
The argument also suffers from the fallacy of composition, being what is true of a member of a group is not necessarily true for the group as a whole. Just because most things within the universe require a cause/causes, does not mean that the universe itself requires a cause.

I addressed this as well. To say that universe is uncaused would mean that it is necessary rather than contingent. But the universe doesn't have the potency to cause all things. This follows from the Priniciple of Proportionate Causality.

"I think part of the appeal of mathematical logic is that the formulas look mysterious - you write backward Es!" - Hilary Putnam
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06-02-2017, 10:32 AM (This post was last modified: 06-02-2017 10:36 AM by GirlyMan.)
RE: The Cosmological Arguments Haven't Been Debunked
(06-02-2017 10:17 AM)Naielis Wrote:  I think I decided to leave because the arguments weren't really being dealt with.

That's rich given that you were the one not dealing with the arguments.

But the problem of induction brings into question whether causality is a property being observed or a property being imposed. Given what we know about space/time equivalence it seems likely to me that causality is a necessary invention for us to make any sense at all of the world. We see patterns which aren't really there because that's what we do. We see patterns. We have to. We're wired to. But just because causality has primacy over other inventions doesn't mean it's not an invention.

Well now I'm not sure whether Nailthis sees the problem of induction as a problem or not. I was under the impression he did. No? If you accept the implications of the problem of induction on causality then debating over a "first" cause or a "necessary" cause is just a metaphysical circle jerk where nobody gets off.


Seems to me if you're arguing for a "first" cause or a "necessary" cause you're the one ignoring it.

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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