Kalam Cosmological Argument for the existence of God

Discussion in 'Religion' started by James R, Jan 11, 2016.


Does the Kalam Cosmological Argument convince you that God exists?

  1. Yes.

    1 vote(s)
  2. No.

    23 vote(s)
  3. I'm not sure that I properly understand the argument.

    1 vote(s)
  4. No opinion or would rather not answer.

    0 vote(s)
  1. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    A modern, well confrimed, answer or at least scientifically and logically self consistent explaination of how the universe began to exist is in this video.

    This less < 13 minute video updates Laplace's reply to Napoleon's question: "Where does God fit into his mathematical work,* " and Laplace famously replied:
    "Sir, I have no need of that hypothesis."

    * Laplace had witten a huge multi-volume book that mathematically covered about all that was known in his era, but God was not mentioned it it (nor in the more detailed version of the video).

    More on the closely related theory of Lambda Cold Dark Matter here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150924142851.htm article published September 24, 2015.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2016
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  3. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Let's see if we can find actual argument to respond to.

    Ah, but the most common definition of begging the question does not invalidate a deductive argument.

    I have already said, several times now, that the KCA conclusion is entailed in the premises, hence it is deductively valid. Every deductive argument begs the question to this extent. The KCA is a version of the cosmological argument, which explicitly states it is talking about 'first cause', and even if it didn't, it is clear that any uncaused cause that initiates physical causation, is first cause. 'More than usual'? The only way to determine whether the premises entail the conclusion to the detriment of the argument being persuasive is to address their soundness. So can we quit belaboring the point and agree on its validity already? Or is this just a delay tactic because you fear your attacks of soundness are much weaker than those of validity?
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  5. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    The KCA is a version of the cosmological argument (argument from first cause). And it should be rather trivial that any cause considered to initiate causation and, itself, uncaused is 'first cause'.
    Dr. Craig: The cosmological argument is actually a family of arguments—different arguments—that all attempt to prove on the basis of the existence of the world, that there is some sort of a first cause or sufficient reason for the existence of the world.
    - http://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/arguing-god-from-first-cause-robert-lawrence-kuhn
    The Kalam version does explicitly say that the universe has a first cause, because anything that must have a cause and began to exist must have a first cause. This really shouldn't bear even this much exposition.

    Hence the quotes around 'alternative'. The causative ability of the 'alternative' is strictly a matter of soundness. I'll wait for you and Baldeee to verify that's what we're ready to address. Begging the question is never a problem for a deductive argument. The real matter is whether the exception of god being the only uncaused cause is special pleading. And that is addressed in the soundness, not the validity.

    For example?

    The alternative is an issue of soundness, because begging the question is no problem for a deductive argument, and special pleading is an issue of soundness.

    And what else would you call the cause of something that begins to exist? Could it possibly be its 'first cause'?
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  7. Baldeee Registered Senior Member

    And where, since post #306, have I said that it does?
    Stick to what is written, Syne, not what you need it to say for you to feel you have scored points.
    Things will progress that much more smoothly when you can do that.
    So you agree that it is begging the question - more so than normal deductive arguments - i.e. that it begs the question as I understand begging the question, not simply as per your usage (where every deductive argument can be said to beg the question)?
    Ah, I see that you don't agree to what I have asked above...
    So around and around and around we go.
    When you talk of God as being the first cause, it is as THE first cause - the first cause of everything - not simply our universe, but all.
    God as first cause is the initiator of all causes.
    If you intend to merely be arguing for a first cause - specifically the immediately preceding cause to our universe - then I would think that some, myself included, would struggle to consider this "the first cause" in the same manner as used to define God.
    I.e. it seems to be a fallacy of equivocation.
    You have given a definition/understanding of question-begging that means that every deductive argument begs the question.
    This is different to the understanding I (and most others here) have.
    Do you yet agree that the argument presented begs the question as I understand it, or merely as you understand it?
    Do you yet agree that the argument presented begs the question as I understand it, or merely as you understand it?
    You'll find out as and when I get onto those issues.
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    It seems Baldeee has raised the issue that there seems to be a difference in understanding between "a first cause" and "the first cause" that most would use to define God. For example, if I cause a cup of tea to spill onto the floor, I may be considered the first cause of that result, but I myself would have had a cause that led to me spilling the tea - perhaps a slippery floor - which would also have had a cause, such as someone spilling something previously onto the floor etc.
    Thus there is clearly a difference between the first cause as applied to a specific thing, and THE first cause as usually used to define God.
    Then you're back to question-begging, this time about God being the only thing with causative nature. And as pointed out, also by Baldeee, this is question-begging as I understand it rather than as you understand it.
    Do you yet accept that the argument begs the question as I (and JamesR, and Baldeee etc) understand it?
    Do you yet accept that the argument begs the question as I (and JamesR, and Baldeee etc) understand it?
    Nothing needs to be specifically stated - only accepted as a logical possibility. If you wish to exclude them as possibilities, do so as a premise - and the soundness of the premise can be assessed when we address other such matters.
    If you have not excluded all other logical possibilities (i.e. other solutions that would result in the given conclusion being false while the premises are true) then the argument is invalid. You have yet to exclude them, but you can do through inserting a premise that does just such. Until that time, the argument remains invalid.
    "It's" first cause, yes, not "the first cause" as used to define God. As exampled above, having a first cause is a trivial solution - and accepted as line 3 of the argument. Everyone has accepted the argument as valid up to this point.
    The invalid conclusion is line 4 - that jumps from a first cause to that first cause being God (i.e. THE first cause).
  9. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

  10. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

    The arguments are there. You seem to ignore the factual errors that you make that I bring up again and again. Given that you prefer to accept the arguments of people who try to actively deceive on this topic, it is not surprising you do not look at direct factual challenges to your positions.
    It does not make it "not valid", but it does provide decisive grounds to reject the argument. Someone attempting to defend an argument they know to be sound is engaging in deception.

    Again, this is equivocation to the point of deception.
    It may start there, but it ends with something far different. Please stop pretending otherwise.
    This is a question of validity, since the argument ends with a god, not with a cause. Or are you denying that these arguments have a god in their conclusion?
    This is equivocation: we might call something the first cause of an event, even though that thing is neither without a cause itself nor the cause of all events.
  11. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    In any valid deductive argument, the premises imply the conclusion. That seems to be the gist of Dan Barker's rather weak argument against the "KCA". If the "KCA" premises imply only one conclusion, then our critics insist that the "KCA" must be "begging the question", precisely because the premises imply that particular conclusion. But isn't that what all deductive proofs do?

    Perhaps it's time for everyone to move on from this seemingly pointless fascination with Barker's 'question-begging' objection and to actually examine Craig's argument in its entirety. The "KCA" isn't just 1-4 in the OP. That's an oversimplification of a more complicated argument with more premises than just 1 and 2 from the OP. What are all of those additional premises, what else is being assumed? Are there any plausible reasons to embrace any or all of these assertions as givens? How likely are they to be true? (That introduces the issue of soundness.) Does the complete set of premises validly imply Craig's overall conclusion? (Which is what exactly, 4 from the OP?)
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2016
  12. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

    I understand the desire to move on to substantive issues about the KCA, but let's be honest: this debate it hampered by people trying to deceive. Deception is, for many religious people, just a part of keeping and growing their flock. Does this make these people immoral? Yes. Does it interfere with serious intellectual discussion? Yes.

    If you are claiming that all deductive arguments are begging the question, then you are trying to deceive. That's just the facts. If you are apologizing for someone who is doing this, you are assisting in the immoral activity of that person.
  13. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    There are two ways to think about question-begging, it seems.
    The first is to take Syne's view, and the view you seem to imply here, that "question-begging" is simply where the conclusion is implied solely by the premises. Under this view it is trivial that all deductive arguments are thus question-begging, and thus claiming a deductive argument to be question-begging is valueless.
    The second is to take the view that question-begging is where the conclusion is specifically stated within a single premise (hidden or otherwise). This is the view that I take, that Baldeee, JamesR and PhysBang take.
    While an argument can still be valid with question-begging as understood in this second view, it greatly diminishes the value of the deductive argument as a whole, rendering all non-question begging premises irrelevant to the argument.

    Take, for example:
    All men are mortal.
    Socrates is a man.
    Therefore Socrates is mortal.
    This is valid, you'll agree, but while it begs the question per the first understanding it does not do so per the second: there is no single premise that can lead to the conclusion. Thus the conclusion is of value as it is saying something about the relationship between premises that is not explicitly stated.

    Compare that to:
    Socrates is mortal.
    Socrates is a man.
    Therefore Socrates is mortal.
    This is question begging under both views - and in this case the premise "Socrates is a man" is irrelevant to the conclusion.
    I'm sorry you find it pointless. It's actually quite a fundamental issue: if it is question-begging (per the second view) then it greatly diminishes the value of the argument, but it also focuses where the question of soundness needs to be rather than the premises that are otherwise irrelevant.
    Using the above examples, in the first case one would need to look at both premises to assess the overall soundness of the conclusion. In the second case it is a single premise that needs to be assessed.

    With regard the simplified version in the OP, if one does not accept that there is question-begging as per the second view, then the conclusion is invalid. If one does accept that there is question-begging as per the second view then the simplified version would appear to be valid, as previously explained.
    Sure, but if certain people can't see why conclusion on line 4 of that simplification is invalid (or begs the question as per the second view above) then why go on to the more complex version? Personally I would have thought that line 4 would be accepted as clearly invalid and then we could move on to the missing argument that claims to validly link lines 3 to 4. But if people are struggling to accept that line 4, as currently given in the simplified version, is invalid (or that it begs the question as per the second view above), of what hope is there?
    If you agree that line 4 of the simplification is invalid then feel free to post the missing argument and we can discuss those questions. But if you, like another, can't agree that the simplification is invalid, then there seems to be a more fundamental issue to address first.
  14. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Can any of you point to where Craig does what you guys accuse him of doing?

    Barker seems to want to argue that Craig is dividing 'things' into things with beginnings and things without beginnings. I agree so far. Then Barker insists that Craig is sneaking in an unstated assumption that God is the only thing without a beginning. The thing is, that's Barker's assumption, it isn't Craig's. Craig doesn't seem to to me to want to argue in that way at all, suggesting instead that there might be things other than God that don't have beginnings and offers what he calls 'abstract objects' as examples. So Barker, JamesR, Baldeee and you all seem to be arguing furiously against something that Craig never said and likely doesn't even agree with. (What Craig does subsequently is argue that abstract objects don't enter into causal relations.)

    I don't see that Craig is guilty of crude (If A, then A) circularity.

    Sure, but I don't think that Craig's argument, for all the flaws that seemingly infest it, is an example of that kind of circularity. I agree with you that the argument would be unconvincing if it was.

    I'm not saying that the "KCA" is convincing, but I am suggesting that it's unconvincing for different reasons.


    Craig seems to me to be trying to argue in the manner of your first example. He wants to argue that the universe has a beginning and thus requires a cause. He wants to argue that this cause must be outside space and time, that only one cause is responsible for creating our universe, that it's powerful enough to account for entire universes and that the cause is volitional. Then he seems to want to argue that these characteristics come very close to theology's traditional theistic attributes. That's how he gets God into the picture.

    Sure, I think that even Craig would agree that 4 doesn't follow from 1-3. 1 and 2 only imply 3 (by modus ponens), which is how Craig hopes to establish that the universe requires a cause. He needs all the rest of his argument and all the rest of his premises to make a case that the universe's cause is theistic religion's God.

    Because I'm not convinced that Craig ever meant 4 as a logical consequence of 1-3. (Maybe Syne is claiming that, but I don't think that Craig did. Are you arguing against Syne or against Craig?) No. 4 was just just Craig telling everyone what he thinks 3 really is (God). Demonstrating that will require all the rest of Craig's stuff about timelessness, volition and so on.

    And that's where I think that the "KCA" ultimately fails. (I'm not even convinced that 1, 2 and 3 are true, even if the truth of 3 does validly follow from the truth of 1 and 2.)
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2016
  15. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

    I agree that Craig does offer this false dichotomy.
    Sure. There is an equivocation on "power" there: Craig wants us to think that "power" means, "can do anything" powerful, whereas all the argument requires is "power" in the sense of "can cause the universe as it exists in the beginning" powerful, which has much less scope.

    That the cause is volitional is also outside the scope of any information fed in to the argument.

    He is, of course, also not telling the truth about this.
  16. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Thus he has the hidden premise, as previously mentioned by baldeee, that God is the only such thing with causal agency. Which is still a case of question-begging as formulated in the OP.
    The argument in the OP does (albeit hidden) to be able to get from 3 to 4, or it is invalid.
    I don't think anyone (with the exception of syne) actually thinks otherwise, with regard the formulation in the OP. If this is a simplification, and if the question begging or invalidity as identified is only due the simplification then okay, we move on. But as it stands there is at least one person still seemingly unable to comprehend the issue as identified with the simplified argument in the OP.
    I think it does in the simplified form. But with the missing sections inserted it may not. Lets see.
    And we probably wont disagree on those reasons. I just want to be sure the argument is valid first.
    Then it's just a pity the discussion has been sidetracked by non-acceptance of what seems to be rather obvious to most of us.
    Long since stopped arguing against Craig since syne has seemed incapable of understanding why line 4 is an invalid conclusion from 1 to 3 (or if to be considered valid is a case of "if A then A" type of question-begging). This has sidetracked me more than perhaps it should have done.

    I'm certainly not sure how one would go about establishing the veracity of those premises.
  17. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Then quit acting like you think I have some special definition for begging the question. If you agree that begging the question doesn't invalidate a deductive argument then you shouldn't feel the need to continue arguing like so:
    "I am not aware of anyone who adheres to that notion of question-begging in practice, only when in philosophical discourse about the nature of logic etc." - Post#453
    You keep sounding as if you think some special kind of question-begging may still invalidate a deductive argument. If you want me to quit responding to that, quit equivocating.

    See what I mean? "...as I understand begging the question" continues to bring into doubt whether you understand that no degree of begging the question, on its own, makes a deductive argument invalid. Begging the question is always a matter of soundness in a deductive argument. If you want to be very clear about deductive validity, you shouldn't be asking whether it begs the question at all. What you should be asking is whether there is an unstated/hidden premise.

    And where do you imagine in that quote that I am talking about a first cause?
    Stick with what is written, Baldeee, not what you need it to say for you to feel you have scored points.
    Things will progress that much more smoothly when you can do that.

    And which of these definition are you disputing?
    Begging the question is not considered a formal fallacy (an argument that is defective because it uses an incorrect deductive step). Rather, it is a type of informal fallacy that is logically valid but unpersuasive, in that it fails to prove anything other than what is already assumed. - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question#Definition

    Note for the student of logic who knows about valid argument forms such as modus ponens: It has sometimes been said that in a sense, all deductively valid arguments beg the question. However, the above definition of begging the question--If one's premises entail one's conclusion, and one's premises are questionable, one is said to beg the question--distinguishes the two somewhat. In any case, modus ponens, for example, is always a valid form of arguing, even if its premises are false and even if it begs the question. - http://skepdic.com/begging.html

    Whether a premise is questionable is obviously a matter of soundness. Now where can you cite a definition of begging the question, that includes how it pertains to deductive validity (which is all you have been claiming it to pertain to), and in any way refutes these? If you can't, and you accept these definitions, then you must agree that question-begging is purely a matter of soundness. And if you can't manage to do either, it is rather clear that you are not 100% free of your earlier conflation of methods of reasoning.

    There are no two ways to understand question-begging and deductive validity. Begging the question never invalidates a deductive argument. It can only effect its persuasiveness or soundness.

    I won't hold my breath.
  18. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    100% agreed. I've thought, from the beginning, that the real issue (worth protracted discussion anyway) with the KCA is its soundness. Begging the question is a non-issue deductively.
  19. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

    Are you kidding? You have just literally been trying to introduce a new definition of begging the question.

    Now that you have been caught trying to deceive, you are going to try to outright lie about your own behavior? WTF?

    Every person not trying to deceive others agrees that question begging makes an argument useless. So the question of an argument's validity is irrelevant if one can show that it is question begging.

    No. Begging the question is entirely a structural feature of the argument. It is actually the practice on introducing an invalid argument, namely an argument of one statement, the conclusion.
    Of course, how could it be invalid when it just jumps mysteriously from 3 to 4?
  20. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    You're equivocating. 'First cause' is not qualified by any cosmological argument, thus THE first cause.

    Or are you now addressing soundness? If not, you need to definitively show that question-begging is a problem for a deductive argument. You know, beyond taking a simple definition of an informal fallacy at face value and erroneously applying it to the validity of deductive reasoning.

    Can you even begin to see why every attack on validity employing question-begging makes people doubt your fundamental understanding?

    Is this both an appeal to authority and popularity? Where are definitions that support question-begging as a problem for a deductive argument?

    So deflection it is.

    You have yet to show a logical possibility in need to excluding, or at least one have haven't already addressed. Do you have to same fear of addressing soundness as Baldeee?
  21. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

    Ah, the standard tactic of the crank and the fundamentalist: accuse someone else of the very tactic that you were just using.

    One problem with the KCA is that it merely assumes "the" first cause when it can support, at a charitable best, "a" first cause. Thank you for trying to play the deceptive game of KCA advocates.
    You need to read the articles that you not only link to but quote in depth. You just quoted a passage that says that a question begging argument is unpersuasive. Thus if one can show an argument is question begging, its validity doesn't matter whatsoever. Your attempt to move goalposts or delay the evaluation of the KCA is not a smart move here.
    I can't. If one's argument for a point is merely to raise the point, that doesn't seem like a valid argument form. If one's argument requires the addition of a question begging premise, and one does not add that premise while hoping deceptively that one's audience will not notice, then one has offered an invalid argument.
    This is yet another sad attempt to address the issue at hand. You are dodging the question of question begging and attempting to hide behind a very misguided discussion of validity.

    I understand the fundamentalist mindset of attempting to trick fellow followers or potential converts into ignoring inconsistencies and details that might upset them. Why do you think these tactics will work here?
    Ah, the pot speaks to the kettle.
  22. Baldeee Registered Senior Member

    You have effectively raised a definition that trivialises it with regard deductive reasoning, and is different to the definition used by most other people here.

    Why should I not?
    You are using a notion that makes the term redundant but does nothing to address that which is was raised to criticise.
    I can not be more clear, syne.
    Any equivocation you see is simply your desire to misinterpret to suit your own agenda.
    But for purposes of clarity, let me explain again:
    Either the conclusion (line 4) is valid, but by being so invokes a hidden premise that question-begs the conclusion directly, or the conclusion is invalid.
    Thus, despite your ongoing protestations about mixing the two notions (validity and question-begging), the two are linked in this instance.
    That is not to say that question-begging in this case invalidates the conclusion, but the opposite: question-begging of the conclusion directly is the only way the conclusion could be valid.
    I am distinguishing between the notion you use (that all deductive arguments beg the question) and the notion I use, where question-begging is where the conclusion is assumed not across all the premises but in one premise.
    The difference between the question begging (your notion) that is in the Socrates is mortal syllogism, and the "A therefore A" kind.
    If you can not yet comprehend this distinction then I can only assume you are being deliberately obtuse.
    As mentioned to Yazata, question-begging is not about soundness at all.
    It is neutral on the matter of veracity of the premise.
    One can neither demonstrate or falsify a premise, or an argument, through question-begging.
    Thus it is neutral.
    When you refer to something as simply "first cause" and omit either an indefinite or definite article, it is a perfectly legitimate approach to address the distinction.
    Note the term "if" in what I said.
    I am not disputing either as legitimate definitions in their place, but I am disputing your insistence on not being able/willing to distinguish between the two, and address the points raised with the definition intended and pointed out.
    Well done.
    For hopefully the last time: line 4 is invalid unless one introduces a (or reveals a hidden) premise that directly assumes the conclusion - i.e. question begs - not simply in the way you hold that every deductive argument begs the question but in the way that a single premise assumes the conclusion.
    To quote wiki... "To beg a question means to assume the conclusion of an argument—a type of circular reasoning. This is an informal fallacy, in which an arguer includes the conclusion to be proven within a premise of the argument...".
    Noone has said (since post #306) that it does invalidate a deductive argument.
    You are clearly still hung up on this and it seems to be clouding your ability to comprehend what is written.
  23. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Au contraire, it is you who is equivocating between the definite and indefinite article. But we can address that further as and when we have concluded on your ability to understand validity.
    You mean beyond the manner that you were also demonstrably guilty of?
    As explained by Baldeee above and has been explained to you almost ad nauseam: the two are linked in this case through being either direct question-begging (a premise assuming the conclusion) or by being invalid.
    Please don't deflect your inability to comprehend on to me. The issue has been laid out for you time and time again: either the conclusion (line 4) is invalid or the argument employs direct question-begging. You seem to have issue with that, as though it is not possible to arrive at such a dilemma.
    Oh, that's right - you don't think it employs such question-begging yet you think the conclusion is valid.
    No, it is a question. If you don't accept it as we do, or at least can understand the difference in nature of the two types of question-begging, then it is simply that we still have some way to go.
    It's not a matter of definition but of simply applying it to the argument in question, and arriving at the conclusion either being invalid or the argument employing a hidden premise that directly begs the question.
    No, simply a way out of your mess for you to take and save face. Take it or don't.
    As already provided to you: the possibility of there being multiple uncaused causal agencies (see post #459). You then asked for an example, and dismissed the point that not providing an example does not negate the possibility as deflection.
    If such avoidance is the best you have to offer...
    On the contrary - the lack of soundness of the argument I find to be rather trivial in comparison. I, and I believe Baldeee is the same, feel the validity of the argument (or lack thereof) to be a more worthwhile discussion than simply rehashing issues that the KCA has had levelled at it on matters of soundness ever since it was first formulated.
    So there is no fear, at least of nothing other than boredom, but your desire to run away from your inability to comprehend validity is telling, and duly noted. And it is also telling that you seem so keen to discuss soundness yet here you are, always responding to the question of validity (not that you have yet addressed the flaw in your understanding of it yet).

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