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.

    25 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. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    No, I have raised the only definition that directly pertains to deductive validity. Remember deductive validity...it's what you've gone on about for quite some time now. So far, your only rebut has been to reassert the simple definition of an informal fallacy that has no bearing on validity. Guess what, it is trivial.

    If you think there is a hidden premise, state it, and quit jerking around about begging the question. The conclusion is valid, because it is both entailed in the premises and relies on no hidden premises. If there is a hidden premise, it is not valid. So your 'Either the conclusion is valid...' is disingenuous, since you immediately say it 'invokes a hidden premise'. So you are basically saying either it is invalid or it is invalid. Can you see why I keep doubting your understanding of validity? While begging the question doesn't, itself, effect validity, a hidden premise does.

    What do you think the hidden premise is?

    So which is it? A hidden premise or unnecessary premises?
    What do you think the hidden premise is?
    Which do you think are unnecessary?

    If you cannot answer all of these, you are obviously just trolling and avoiding being pinned down on any assertion at all.

    The lack of justification in a premise is an issue of soundness. Begging the question is a form of circular reasoning, which is also known as circular justification. Hence, soundness.
    The fallacy of petitio principii, or "begging the question" is committed when someone attempts to prove a proposition based on a premise that itself requires proof. - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question#Definition
    A premise that requires its own proof is unjustified and unsound. Now that proof may be in the form of a hidden premise (which would invalidate the argument), but we don't know that until we've addressed soundness.

    Between an informal fallacy and an actual issue of validity? Question begging is only an issue of soundness. If you want to attack validity, you should assert what hidden premise there may be. But as soon as you do, we'll be discussing the soundness of particular premises. There's no two ways about it.

    What do you think the hidden premise is?
    Which do you think are unnecessary?

    What? That is ignorant. '...invalid unless one introduces a (or reveals a hidden) premise that directly assumes the conclusion'? If there is a hidden premise (and you can successfully demonstrate what it is), it is invalid. If there is a hidden premise, then 'a single premise' does not assume the conclusion, since it needs an extra, hidden premise. And even if a single premise did, it wold not be invalid, only vacuous.

    This is really just a bunch of arm waving to avoid soundness. It's getting old.
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  3. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Empty arm waving. I just said it way clearly THE first cause. Can you read?

    Sure, but only if you are talking about a hidden premise. And the only way to determine that is to address the soundness of the premises. Wait, now you claim that 'a premise assuming the conclusion' makes it valid? LOL! So your false dilemma is that it can only be valid if it is also vacuous.

    Where did this 'direct question-begging' term come from? Is this what you mean by the conclusion entailed in a single premise? Again, that would be a vacuous argument, as it would allow no inference between premises. If all deductive arguments required this, none would be of any value at all. Now if you truly understand validity, you'll prove it and assert what you think the hidden premise is. And that will mean we're talking about soundness.

    You mean the informal fallacy and an actual issue of validity, like a hidden premise? If you want to discuss logic, you're going to have to learn to be more precise. Arm waving isn't an argument.

    False dilemma. You're saying that deductive arguments are either invalid or unpersuasive. If you're only claiming this of the KCA, then you need to be specific with your claims. Again, a hidden premise makes an argument invalid BECAUSE the conclusion is not entailed in the stated premises. Begging the question makes it valid BECAUSE the conclusion is entailed in the stated premises. A hidden premise can be a form of begging the question, but you need to be specific, and call out what hidden premise you think there may be. You know, instead of intoning 'begging the question' as if it were some magical incantation.

    Okay then. How does it allow for multiple uncaused causal agencies?

    So far you have been completely ignorant of how validity and soundness interact. Once you have identified where you think an argument may be invalid, you can only determine it so or not based on soundness. The two are not isolated issues.

    But good job managing to specify a hidden premise. What is it?
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  5. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Here's a definition that Sarkus and Basldeee are apparently in need of:

    An informal fallacy occurs when the contents of an argument's stated premises fail to adequately support its proposed conclusion. In contrast to a formal fallacy of deduction, the error is not a flaw in the form of the argument. Though the form of the argument may be relevant, it is also the content that is implicated in the erroneous reasoning. So while formal fallacies always guarantee that the resulting argument is invalid, an argument containing an informal fallacy might employ a valid logical form while nevertheless remaining rationally unpersuasive. - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Informal_fallacy

    Hence an issue of soundness.
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  7. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    And once again you either will not or can not grasp the either/or nature of the issue raised, and seem intent on conflating the aspects of the criticism.
    I am tired of having to explain it to you, Syne.
    I have tried, numerous times, yet you can not seem to grasp it.
    Unless you have something further to add, that shows that you do actually grasp what is being said, there is little point in continuing this.
    It is given in the OP, with the addition of God being the only thing not needing a cause with causal agency.
    So you believe, yet this is demonstrably incorrect, as already shown numerous times.
    While the premise remains hidden (I.e. Not revealed / admitted to as part of the argument) then of course it is invalid.
    In order to have any hope of being a valid argument (as in where the conclusion can not be false while the conclusions are true) the argument in the OP must rely on hidden premises.
    And the hidden premise identified in the OP that would enable the argument to be valid would be a direct case of question-begging.
    I can understand that you are either unable or unwilling to comprehend the position I'm taking, or are deliberately misunderstanding it.
    Can you see why I might think that, and why I keep doubting your honesty and intentions?
    If one has a premise that God is the only thing without a beginning and that has causal agency then all other premises are unnecessary when trying to conclude that God was the cause of the universe.
    And I can say the same for you about your apparent wilful lack of comprehension of what I'm saying.
    Oh, it is an issue of soundness in that it identifies the premise that requires being shown to be true, but in and of itself the fact of question-begging has no bearing on the soundness of that premise.
    It is the argument that is considered sound or not, not the premise.
    The premise is either true or not.
    The argument is sound if and only if the argument is valid and the premises are true.
    The premises are true or not irrespective of justification.
    Whether we consider the premises true or not, however, in the absence of proof, is a matter of being convinced, which would entail justification.
    We do not need to address soundness to establish it if, as in this case, the hidden premise is required to make the argument valid (by eliminating all other possible conclusions) in the first place.
    Without the hidden premise the argument is invalid as there remain alternative conclusions than line 4 that could be true (and thus line 4 false) while the premises remain true.
    More wilful misunderstanding, it seems, on your part.
    [qupte]If you want to attack validity, you should assert what hidden premise there may be. But as soon as you do, we'll be discussing the soundness of particular premises. There's no two ways about it.[/quote]But at least there is then acceptance that the premise exists (not yet agreed) and identification of which premise needs to be assessed for veracity,
    In the absence of that agreement that the hidden premise exists, the question of whether the argument as given is valid remains unresolved, since you seem to think it is valid while I do not, as the conclusion in line 4 could be false while the premises are true.
    And if that premise is no longer hidden, I.e. revealed / stated and identified as part of the argument / no longer hidden, then the argument becomes valid.
    That rather depends upon what that hidden premise is.
    Im sorry you see it as arm-waving, but since you seem to be struggling, deliberately or otherwise, to comprehend what is being said, and more fundamentally since you struggle to comprehend why line 4 as given in the OP is invalid, I am not surprised you see it as such and wish to move on.
    But as said previously, what is the point of reviewing soundness if the argument is invalid.
    At some point you will see that line 4, as given in the OP, is actually invalid, and that (as Yazata has stated) it's validity seems to rely on several other steps that are currently unstated.
    As and when they are stated we can perhaps see if they validate the argument or not.
    And then move on to the issue of soundness.
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I can read, thanks, but you seem unable to comprehend. By insisting on THE first cause you are assuming the non-existence of alternatives. But their existence remains a possibility within the argument as given, unless you wish to add the premise that excludes them? If you don't then the argument as given is invalid, as the alternative conclusions (I.e. Other causal agencies other than THE first cause) exist which would mean that line 4 can be false while the premises are true.
    Are you denying that such a premise would make it valid? And at least you would need to know which premise you need to assess for veracity.
    Yes, to distinguish between your comprehension of question-begging that is merely part and parcel of a valid deductive argument, and the type of question-begging that I am referring to.
    But it would be valid. If that is also the only way that the argument can be made valid, by the inclusion of such a premise, then so be it.
    They don't. Hence the necessary distinction between our differing views of what constitutes question-begging.
    It would not mean that we're talking about soundness. Soundness has nothing to do with validity beyond the need for a sound argument to be valid in the first instance, and then subsequently based on true premises. You do understand at least that much, don't you?
    No, I mean the informal fallacy as you define it, and the informal fallacy as I define it that seems to be required to make the argument valid.
    You expect me to somehow precisely state myself so as to be in line with your miscomprehension?
    No I'm not.
    You mean as I have been clearly doing? What part of "applying it to the argument in question" is causing you confusion? And where previously have I stated it as being anything other than in reference to the KCA?
    The premise deemed to be hidden was clearly identified in the OP, and elaborated on subsequently by the inclusion of God being the only such thing with causal agency.
    Have you not been keeping up, or would you rather just continue to raise complaint when the answer has already been given?
    Where in the existing premises is there an exclusion of all but one? There isn't. Thus there remains the logical possibility of more than one, thus concluding that God is therefore the cause (line 4) is invalid.
    However, as argued as nauseam, if one introduces a premise (I.e. One considers it currently hidden) that excludes the possibility of those other uncaused causal agencies, then the argument would be valid.
    With the exception of question-begging highlighted and corrected since post #306, of which you were also guilty, my understanding is just fine, thanks.
    Oh, the irony. You claim I don't understand how validity and soundness interact, yet here you are trying to explain with what is a fundamental misunderstanding of your own.
    Validity, to remind you, is a matter of form and form alone.
    The truth or not of a premise (which I can only assume you mean when you refer to a premise being sound, as it otherwise would be a meaningless phrase given that soundness refers to the argument, not the premise) is irrelevant to the form.
    A sound argument is a subset of a valid argument, being one where the premises are true. So no, you can not determine an invalid argument or not through the soundness of the premises. But yes, the two are related in yes much as a sound argument is a subset of a valid one.
    An invalid argument might exist where the premises are true, and a valid argument where the premises are false.
    There are 7 days in a week, I have 2 thumbs, therefore it is always raining.
    The premises are true, but the conclusion is invalid (it is possible for the conclusion to be false while the premises are true).
    At what point does the soundness enter into the equation of determining this an invalid argument? At what point does one need to assess the actual veracity of the premises to determine the validity or otherwise of the argument?

    All men are called Sue.
    My brother is a man.
    My brother is therefore called Sue.
    This is a valid argument, but the premises are false.
    At what point does the soundness enter into the equation of determining this an invalid argument? At what point does one need to assess the actual veracity of the premises to determine the validity or otherwise of the argument?

    I find it amusing that you have the audacity to try and correct others when your understanding is so fundamentally flawed.
    Pick up any introduction to logic, Syne, and see what it says about validity and soundness, and how the two are related. But I imagine you'll simply end up squirming around as you try to justify and rationalise your understanding etc.
  9. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Once again from the top, as you simply aren't getting it, are you, Syne:
    The argument in the OP, as written, is invalid: the conclusion could be false while the premises true. No need to assess the validity of the premises to establish this, just the failure of the existing premises to rule out the possibility of something other than God being the cause of the universe.

    Now, the argument could be made valid by introducing a premise, for example, that states that God is the only thing with causal agency.
    Introduction of this premise would mean the subsequent argument is valid, yet it would beg the question: premise - god is the only thing with causal agency, thus god caused the universe.
    If we are to consider the argument as currently written to be valid then we must assume that it contains just such a hidden premise, even if that hidden premise directly begs the question of the conclusion.

    Thus either the argument is invalid, or there is a hidden premise - and the one identified above, for example, begs the question.
    Are there alternatives to this? Possibly, I'd imagine that it depends on the additional (I.e. Currently hidden) premise that is required to make the argument valid.

    But as it stands, as it is currently written, it is invalid.
    There is no need to discuss informal fallacies since the form of the argument fails. It is not a matter of adequately supporting the conclusion but simply of failing to be of the correct form: it fails in as much as, as currently given, the conclusion could be false while the premises remain true.

    Once we reach line 3, which we all agree is a valid conclusion from 1 and 2, the jump to 4 does not rule out Bob being the cause, or m-brane collisions, or quantum fluctuation, or Zgrag, or Splurgh or an infinite other logical possibilities that exist until ruled out.
    Alternatively you might add in a premise (3a) such as "God is the name of whatever caused our universe..." and thus line 4 becomes valid from 3 and 3a. But I'm sure even you agree that this, while valid, is vacuous?

    But it needs that additional premise to be valid. It is not a matter of informal fallacies, that are only issues to consider once the form is valid.

    It really shouldn't be this hard to explain it to you, Syne.
    Tell you what: you run off and go and play with issues of the veracity of the premises (I hesitate to use the term sound as even if you show the premises to be correct the argument would be unsound if the form is invalid) and leave the issue of validity to the grown-ups, okay?

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  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I've been looking for a clear statement from Craig or one of his supporters, laying out the complete "Kalam" cosmological argument step-by-step.

    I haven't been having much luck. In most of the things he's written, Craig seems largely focused on his 1, 2 and 3, concluding that the universe has a cause. Then he seemingly leaps to the conclusion that the cause is God. I will happily agree with JamesR, Sarkus and Baldeee that doing this begs the question (though not for precisely the reason that Barker argues for).

    Here's Craig providing a fairly elementary version:


    Here's another elementary presentation that I think is a little better than Craig's own in that it pays more attention to the leap from 3 to 4.


    Here's a more technical version from Craig:


    Here's somebody else's explanation of the "KCA":


    Here's Craig trying to respond to criticism of his "KCA". I'm pleased to note that I independently hit on a criticism earlier in the thread (that Craig is employing the concept of 'cause' ambiguously and perhaps committing a category mistake) that apparently was also made by no less than Adolph Grunbaum.


    And here is Craig trying to rebut that argument, along with doubts about whether the universe's cause really must be a person:


    One thing that I've learned from skimming through some of Craig's writings is that he can be a bit of a pompous jerk.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
  11. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

    Exactly. Craig relies on arguments like this being presented in an unclear manner. Because the argument is really, really bad and arguments like this are all Craig has. He knows that they are bad, and he knows the purpose for them: placate the believers who just need to think that there is some intellectual rigor on their side.

    Craig's core belief is still personal revelation. Argumentation has literally no bearing whatsoever on his religious belief and his theory of religious belief, but he knows that this doesn't sell the faith to many people who will start to doubt if they start to think too clearly on their own personal revelation (or lack thereof).
  12. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    I would say the same of you, since you've yet to provide a definition for begging the question that presents a problem for deductive validity.

    What specific alternative would that exclude? What else is a possible uncaused cause? If you cannot name one, then you're only talking about the soundness of a possible special pleading. Or are you now going to do the mental gymnastics to claim special pleading is also an issue of validity?

    Provide a definition for begging the question that presents a problem for deductive validity.

    I have made an honest request for you to cite a definition that presents a problem for deductive validity. So far, you have not. You just keep making worthless claims about "common understanding", which is nothing more than an appeal to the masses. So I doubt your intentions, or rational ability, when you cannot manage to converse on the basis of well-defined terms in their proper contexts. I am unwilling to accept your fallacious reasoning in lieu of definitions that actually apply to the arguments being made. Pretty simple.

    The cosmological argument is not about whether god created the universe. It is about whether god exists. Try to stay on target. But your argument here is:

    P1. God is the only thing without a beginning and that has causal agency
    C. God was the cause of the universe

    You seem to be missing the premise that says the universe must have a cause. See, even granting the gist of your argument, if fails miserably. It is painfully obvious that other premises are necessary.

    You would be better off here arguing that god is an unjustified, a priori assumption.

    The only premises whose truth value is irrespective of justification is tautologies (and these lend an argument a dubious value). But we are here dealing with some a posteriori facts, such as the evidence of a beginning of the universe. All a posteriori facts require justification. All tautologies are essentially vacuous.

    What other possible uncaused causes are there? You keep asserting the red herring without specifying any at all.

    I am the only one of us who has outlined his reasoning in full. You keep making vague claims about unnamed possibilities and then whinge about the absence of agreement. No one can rationally be expected to agree with such vague criticisms.
  13. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    @ Sarkus, Baldee

    Specifically, what other alternative uncaused cause are you arguing the KCA does not exclude? If you cannot explicitly name it, what reason does anyone have to assume it at all? Vacuous assumptions are not justified criticism of a deductive argument.
  14. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    @ Yazata

    P1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
    P2. The universe began to exist.
    C1. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

    We can discuss whether P2 is true, but I think we can agree that this syllogism is valid. I would submit the evidence for a Big Bang singularity a finite time in the past as justification of P2.
    Now you might consider 'cause' to be ambiguous, but considering the conservation law, only an unqualified first cause could actually begin anything. But here I've explicitly clarified the category:

    P3. The beginning of the universe included the beginning of space, time, and matter.
    P4. Space, time, and matter are necessary for natural science causation.
    C2. Therefore, the universe does not have a natural science cause (one that necessitates space, time, and matter).

    Again, I think we can agree on the validity here. P3 is justified by the same evidence as P2. By 'natural science causation' is simply meant causality as defined in physics and the natural sciences.

    I'll wait to see if you, or anyone else, has any serious concerns with any of this before continuing.
  15. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Your question again shows you have not grasped the point.
    Yet at one stage previously it seemed you did, but here you are asking an irrelevant question.
    To once again state the position: either there is question begging or the argument is invalid.
    Thus at no point is a definition of question begging required that presents a problem for deductive validit, as you now seem to require.
    I don't know of any that exist.
    There could, for the purposes of this argument, be none, one, two, more.
    They do not need to be specifically named or identified.
    They only need to be logical possibilities.
    And unless you eliminate all but God you can not validly conclude on God being the cause.
    It is not special pleading nor is it about soundness.
    It is simply about validity.
    Remember what it means for an argument to be valid: to be valid the conclusion can not be false while the premises are true.
    If there exists, specifically named or not, the possibility of a solution to the true premises other than the one you have concluded then the conclusion is invalid.
    Please don't raise strawmen.
    None is needed.
    You simply have to grasp the actual argument being made, that it is a case of either question-begging or being invalid.
    There is nothing within that that suggests that question begging presents a problem for deductive validity.
    On the contrary, it is the question begging that offers a means of the argument being valid.
    Then you are honestly misunderstanding the argument presented, despite it being explained to you numerous times and as simply as possible.
    Because so far my position does not require it, because there is no such definition.
    Again, the argument in the OP is either question begging or it is invalid.
    How does this position require me provide an argument for question begging that is problematic for validity, when it clearly suggests that it is the question begging itself that would allow the argument to be valid?
    You have raised this straw man about a need for this definition and it has gone on long enough even within this one post of yours.
    It is an irrelevant question you ask.
    It has zero bearing on my position.
    Can you not yet grasp that, or are you going to honestly continue to misunderstand?
    I am specifically addressing the conclusion (line 4) of the argument in the OP.
    That has always been the case.
    It is you who needs to keep up, syne.
    Not at all.
    From P1 it can be inferred without any other premise that the universe, not being God, must have had a cause (God is the only thing without a beginning - P1) and since God is the only thing with causal agency (also from P1) that cause must have been God.
    One could argue that you would need the premise that the universe is not God, but one could also argue that by stipulating God in P1, and separately invoking "the universe" in the conclusion, one is already implying that hidden premise.
    Not really.
    I am referring to the question of validity, where there need be no justification for the truth of the premises in determining the argument valid or not.
    Justification for the truth of premises is a question of soundness only.
    Validity is about form, and as such there need be no justification for the premises.
    Once again: there does not need to be any specifically-named alternative, just the mere possibility that is not excluded through the logic of the argument alone.
    If there exists a logical possibility other than the one concluded, such that the conclusion you reach could be false while the premises are true, the conclusion reached is invalid.
    I have outlined my reasoning in full, you simply fail to comprehend it.
    Your reasoning is flawed in that your understanding of validity is poor, or at least you can not seem to apply the correct understanding properly.
    If you can not see that line 4 of the argument in the OP is, as stated, invalid then you are simply fooling yourself.
    And I am likely done speaking with such.
    Sarkus likes this.
  16. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    It is not a matter of a vacuous assumption but of the argument presented in the OP failing to rule out the logical possibility of alternatives before reaching the conclusion in line 4.
    It is thus invalid.
    You would know this if you honestly understood what validity entailed.
    No specific alternative need be named (that is the informal fallacy of false precision on your part) as we are talking about the form of the argument, not soundness, not the truth or otherwise of the premises.

    The form of the argument in the OP is currently as follows:
    All X have a Y.
    W is an X.
    Therefore W has a Y.
    That Y is Z.

    This is valid up to line 3.
    Line 4 is an invalid conclusion, as it fails to rule out the possibility of A, B, C etc.
    You are now requiring me to name a specific example of A, B or C but this is not needed to show that the form is invalid.
    To be valid the argument should, for example, include a premise that states that the only possible Y is Z.
    This then excludes all other options, and thus the conclusion would be valid.

    It's not rocket science, syne.
    It's a simple matter of form.
    Sarkus likes this.
  17. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I agree that it's valid, it's an example of modus ponens. I'm not convinced of its soundness though, since P1 and P2 are questionable.

    That's what Craig does. And I agree that the big-bang is evidence for P2. But I don't think that it's terribly strong evidence since we don't really know a whole lot about the big-bang. It's basically an extrapolation of cosmic red shifts, along with a particular interpretation of the cosmic microwave background radiation, I guess. It's true that physicists (the world's new wanna-be metaphysicians) write with assurance about particle physics in the universe's first few seconds, but that's basically all speculation based on their extrapolations.

    Even if we accept the full big-bang scenario as a given, it might be possible to imagine that the universe shrank down to quantum-scale dimensions before the big-bang, and then rebounded on our side of it. The big-bang needn't imply that the universe appeared ex nihilo.

    Right. That's my biggest objection to P1 and to the use of the word 'cause' in C1. We observe physical causation in the physical universe. Physical events are observed in our experience to be linked with temporally preceeding physical states of affairs by what appear to us to be formally invariant relationships (described by the so-called 'laws of physics').

    The cosmological theistic arguments generalize from our observations of how events are related in this universe to imagine causation as a broader and far more abstract category that applies both in the physical universe and outside it. Of course, no non-physical "cause" has ever been observed outside the physical universe, so we are just operating in the realm of imagination with that one. I (and philosophers like Adolf Grunbaum who I greatly respect) point out that the extension of the concept of causality outside the spatial-temporal universe of physical interactions is purely speculative and doesn't seem to have any evidential justification.

    Or at least the expansion of space and time from a very small volume. We don't actually know that it was a geometrical point and a literal singularity. There may or may not be quantum mechanical reasons to question the existence of singularities on the microscale, given the inherent uncertainties. But let's accept P3 for the sake of argument.

    Which is the only kind of causation that we have ever observed here in the physical universe in which we exist. I basically agree with this one.

    That would seem to me to contradict C1.

    What does evidence and justification have to do with logical validity?

    My concern is that the only evidence that we have for universal causation (P1) is our experience of physical causation here in the physical universe. We can accept P2 and P3 for the sake of argument, though we don't really know that they are true. I accept the truth of P4. I'm inclined to accept C2 as true, though we don't really know it.

    And C2 seems to contradict C1, unless we choose to use the word 'cause' ambiguously, to include hypothetical non-physical 'causes'. If we make that move, then we would have reason to question P1, since whatever evidence we have for the truth of universal causation doesn't extend beyond physical reality to non-physical causes.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
  18. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

    I know that this will be ignored, like all of my posts, but at least I'll have the pleasure of knowing that Syne doesn't know how to respond to the points I make.
    I believe that I already did this, but I will reiterate.

    A question begging argument lacks the form of a deductively valid argument because, if the conclusion is only placed where it should be in a structural recreation of the argument, then the argument fails because the remaining premises cannot guarantee the conclusion.

    This captures both the problem of these types of arguments and the tone in which they are usually introduced, viz, with some deception over the placement of the proposition that should be the conclusion.

    That is simply a lie and a shamefully obvious one. The cosmological argument is clearly about some deity being the creator of the universe.
    One need not identify any such things, merely point out that this may be a wide class of entities. That we re ignorant of what such entities may be is not an excuse to claim that any particular entity that we imagine is even a member of the class of extant beings with such properties. Just because I can imagine Odin does not mean that he is a real, existing uncaused cause.
    That, too is a statement that you must know to be untrue.
  19. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    It seems worse than that though... From what experience do we even postulate the notion that everything that exists has a cause? It is surely that we see that "causes" are required to transform one state of affairs into another, as you identify. It's not just the matter of generalising this relationship to what goes on (if anything) outside the universe, but at no point do we have any experience whatsoever with causation of existence itself.
    There is zero experience, or any argument from that experience, that seems to justify acceptance of the premise in the manner that "cause" relates to existence itself. Yes, ideas, planets, objects within our universe can be said to "begin to exist" but that is a rather different sense of the phrase than when applied to ex nihilo creation. And we should avoid such equivocation, surely.
    So can we claim that everything that began to exist (as in a change of form of pre-existing matter, for example) has a cause? That seems reasonable (quantum mechanics arguments aside).
    Can we thus claim through that generalisation that everything that began to exist ex nihilo has a cause? On what basis can we answer this either way with any confidence?

    Furthermore, causation is surely a temporal process: a prior state leads to a subsequent state. S1 -> S2 etc.
    If S2 is the start of time, how can S1 lead to S2? How can we use the term "cause" in any meaningful way under such a situation which is supposedly atemporal?
    Which is not causation ex nihilo, but rather simply a rearrangement of atoms etc.
    Indeed, or at least highlights the equivocation being relied upon.
    It doesn't. I'll be kind and take it as a non sequitur.

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  20. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I'm not sure where our belief in universal causality comes from, to tell the truth. Our experience of the physical universe is extremely limited, in both space and time. The problem of induction warns us to be careful extrapolating our small set of experiences into belief that causality holds true necessarily for all of reality. Black-swans remain possible, and perhaps the universe in its entirety is a black-swan, an exception to our belief in universal causality.

    Yes. Our experience of causality isn't really about "things" that "begin to exist" ex nihilo. It's about changes of state and structure within the universe. New "things" are new configurations of preexisting stuff (Aristotle's 'material cause'). It's more like the universe is continually re-arranging itself, than it is that new things are just popping into existence within the universe out of nothing.

    I agree. Not only do we have no experiential or evidential justification for extending the concept of 'cause' outside the universe and declaring it 'nonphysical', we don't have any justification for reimagining 'causation' as ex nihilo creation either, whether inside or outside the physical universe.

    Once again I strongly agree.

    That's another problem. (They are adding up.) It's getting harder and harder for me to imagine what meaning the concept of 'causation' retains when it is no longer thought of as applying within physical reality.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
  21. Ted Grant II Registered Senior Member

    A problem with this idea is that it suggests we accept that God didn't begin to exist.
    He did.
    He says so himself !
    He said,"Before me there was none and after me there will be none"
    This has several implications.
    God is not timeless.
    God did start to exist.
    At some time he will cease to exist.

    Even if you accept all of the arguments for the existence of God, we still know nothing about her.
    We also don't know if she still exists.
  22. Ted Grant II Registered Senior Member

    We also don't know, that she wants us to sit on hard benches, in a cold building, listening to a guy trying to get us to give him some money every Sunday.
  23. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    You don't give a reference but according to Isaah 43:10, "Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me." There were no gods before Him nor will there be any after. He didn't say anything about His own beginning or end. Are you thinking of a different verse?

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