Thanks so much for having a forum like this! I’m excited to hear your thoughts. I am taking a worldview class and was given an assignment to ask a number of questions to people. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on several questions and I’ll try to push back for clarity but here’s the first one.
Have you guys heard of the Kalam Cosmological argument and if so what are your rebuttals against it?
WLC uses thwe Kalam argument constantly as if the repetition of such an easily rebutted claim makes it worthwhile, It is not worthwhile young student.
Many theists come in here have 'discovered" this canard it all its disguises. Some even think they have “proved” its alleged validity by a subtle changing of words or redefinition of dictionary meanings. Nope.
You will read perfect rebuttals of WLC’s lame rewriting of the islamic argument which in turn was based on Aristotle’s ponderings.
Also you must consider even if I did agree that the argument is valid, it does not get anyone to a god, it ONLY gets people to that things must have a cause.Inserting a ‘god’ conclusion into the argument doesn’t show a god to exist.
The FACT remains you cannot ‘logic’ a or your god into existence.
From WLC’s arguments, I gather he’s trying to get to the essential requirements of the cause of the universe given it’s attributes.
I could be wrong so please correct me if so, but since the universe has time, space, and a beginning, then WLC is arguing that The Cause would have to exist “outside”/sans those things. This would get someone logically to a Timeless, spaceless, being with no beginning. That part seems logical to me but perhaps I missed something.
First of all, I can completely accept the Kalam argument as it is and it gets you no place near the existence of a god. What is the conclusion? “Therefore the universe has a cause.” Pay attention! The conclusion says absolutely nothing about God or gods. It does not rule out natural causes. It makes no assertion of a God-like creator. The only thing the Kalam asserts is that the universe has a cause.
Next: The Kalam makes the assertion that the universe “Began to Exist.” When scientists assert that the universe began, they are referencing the expansion of the universe from a singularity. At no point has any scientist asserted that the singularity popped into existence from nowhere. At no point have they asserted that it is eternal. WE DON’T KNOW! Physics breaks down at Planck time. Our universe is like a house in which we live. Space and time occur in the expansion of the Big Bang. Our house / universe, is expanding. Expanding into what? WE DON’T KNOW. While it may be true that the universe began and is expanding, this says nothing about the cosmoses into which the universe is expanding. It says nothing about a cause. It says nothing about how the universe began to exist, natural causes, internal forces, external forces or something we have yet to discover. WE DON’T KNOW. Only religion pretends to know.
Third, The Kalam does not get us to a God but a second argument will eventually ensue that attempts to get us there. This is a “God of the Gaps” fallacy. All we are doing is inserting a God into a space about which we have no information at all. You could just as easily insert any magical universe creating being into that slot. (The Kalam was originally an argument for Allah.) It is named after the kalam (medieval Islamic scholasticism) from which its key ideas originated. William Lane Craig merely popularized the ancient argument when he began using it for the Christian God. (He changed the wording a bit. “Everything that BEGAN to exist.”) But the argument is an ancient worn out effort that has been debunked for centuries.
Welcome to Atheist Republic studentfinalpaper, I hope your time here is pleasant and you learn.
The first step in such an exchange of ideas is to arrive at a commonly understood set of definitions. So let us lay out the Kalam argument, and the additional baggage WLC has attached to it.
Whatever begins to exist has a cause
The universe began to exist
Therefore, the universe has a cause
That argument has been around literally thousands of years. But WLC added more:
The universe has a cause
If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal creator of the universe exists, who sans (without) the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful
Therefore, an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and infinitely powerful.
Do we agree on these definitions, or should they be amended?
@studentfinalpaper In addition to a common set of definitions that avoids confusion, you need to know and understand fallacies and other failings.
For example, “non sequitur” refers to a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement.
You need to understand these failings when this conversation gets much deeper.
I will now add my initial input on this conversation.
The universe began to exist
Can you prove that beyond the shadow of any doubt for everyone?
Personally I disagree because one scientific proposition (it has not reached the “theory” status yet) is that there is a cosmos (all of everything) that has been around forever. Thus, it is possible that this known universe is just a little bubble that popped off from the larger cosmos.
First: A cause would have to be demonstrated and not merely asserted. Saying anything at all about what is “outside” our current perception of space and time amounts to a “God of the gaps fallacy” or an “Anything else of the gaps” fallacy," depending on what you assert is beyond time and space. It is senseless to make such an assertion. Something that exists in ‘no time’ and ‘no space’ is a self contradiction.
WLC can have no possible idea at all as to what might exist beyond Planck Time. Professing to know any such information without demonstration is pure ignorance. You can not argue a God into existence. I can just as easily assert any magical universe creating entity into existence using the exact same argument. Blue universe creating pixies, The Big Yellow Universe Creating Banana, Bob the Rainbow Farting Universe Creating Unicorn, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster all have the exact same attributes as the Creator God of the Universe and equal objects of consideration that must be ruled out. Then you can rule out every other imagined universe creating being anyone could possibly come along and insert in the Gap of Knowledge beyond what we actually know about the beginning of the universe.
There is absolutely nothing (NOTHING) logical about a ‘timeless’ ‘spaceless’ being. It’s absolute bullshit!
I listened in on a podcast today by a few planetary scientists. They were interested in the idea that our ability to study before the cosmic microwave background is limited, while the study of gravity may allow us to examine what happened before the cosmic microwave background.
Hey Cognostic! So thanks for your response! I’d just like to modify the Kalam to WLC’s argument. which adds a couple of lines as stated in this thread after your comment. But even if we don’t take the additional arguments of WLC we are left with a universe that needs a causal explanation that is causeless and beginning-less. Perhaps not a complete jump to theism but I do think that’s closer than the prior concept of simply a inanimate big bang? What are your thoughts? Again, I think we should Go with WLC’s additional arguments and not just the classical Kalam arguments.
That’s a keen point on what scientist mean when they say the universe began to exist. I wonder if they should change their language as I feel that it’s misleading. Perhaps it should be “when this universe began to exist”? Not sure, I just know that WLC is talking about an absolute beginning; and I’m wondering in response do you know of scientists which speak into this? Also and more specifically, I think the beauty strength of science and philosophy has been their seeking to understand what we dont know. There are indeed things beyond the void which we will never understand anything about. But I’m wondering if the cause of the universe is one of them? I can look at many man made objects and know at least one or two things about their causal agent. I’m wondering if the universe is similar. Perhaps we cannot know everything, but I think the Kalam is seeking to deduce what we can know i.e. that the being - in the least - is a causeless, beginningless entity. WLC adds more of course but just wanted to park here.
[quote=“Cognostic, post:7, topic:847, full:true”]
I’m not sure that the Kalam as WLC is trying to use falls within the God of the gaps. I could be wrong but God of the Gaps is a way to fill God into what we DON’T understand. So if I were to ask “how’s lightning work?” a more ancient person would say “we don’t know its God/thor/etc”. But with WLC, he’s arguing that we DO know certain characteristics of The Cause. In the least this entity is causeless and beginning-less and he would add other things including that it has immense power. these characteristics have to logically exist in order for it to be The Cause. The different attributes given by WLC sound more like God than not. For example, if we said that The Cause was mortal and finite then that wouldn’t get us to a theistic point of view but the attributes given by WLC do. So I’m curious, what are the arguments that debunk the Kalam?
WE DON’T KNOW!
Asserting “without a cause” is no different than asserting “with a cause.” Asserting an “internal cause” is no different than asserting an “external cause.” The point being made is that the assertion “The universe began to exist.” must be demonstrated.
What do you mean when you say “The universe began to exist?” How did it begin to exist? I gave you the evidence above, that it began to exist from a singularity. Are you asserting a universe from nothing?
To talk about “before” is nonsensical. If our current perception of time and space is created in the expansion known as the Big Bang, how is there a before? To discuss time, before time, would be a “Time of the Gaps assertion.” You don’t get to postulate anything beyond what we currently know, without demonstrating it.
You do not get to assert an infinite past without demonstrating it. All of these “What If” questions are merely mind games. If you are going to assert the universe had a beginning ex nihilo you must rule out an eternal existence. If you assert an eternal existence, you must rule out ex nihilo origin.
No one has to defend any of these positions. The assertion was “THE UNIVERSE BEGAN TO EXIST,” The question is “DID IT?” OR: How in the hell could you possibly know such a thing.
Old man need not explain anything at all. He is questioning your basic assumptions.
“How could you possibly know whether or not the universe came began to exist?” Aside from the example I gave above, “from a singularity” which is where our physics breaks down, I don’t know what else anyone can say about the “beginning.”
Of are you appealing to a bigger mystery (the god proposition)?
The history of mankind is one of discovery. We learn and incorporate that into our body of knowledge. Mankind also has a history of inventing supernatural causes for events that they did not have an explanation for. It was once believed lightning and thunder was a result of the gods having a rave in the clouds. But our learning about electricity has led us to understand that friction in the clouds creates powerful electrical charges, and those cause lightning.
@studentfinalpaper Do you believe lightning is a result of gods or is an explainable electrical phenomena? One is superstition appealing to supernatural causes, the other is not.
No we are not. That is an unfounded assertion. Eternal has not been ruled out. Not only that but, in the very next argument WLC is going to argue for an eternal existence of a deity. The deity can have eternal existence but not the universe. This is merely an instance of “Special Pleading.” Fallacious from its core.
It does not change the fact that a cause can be anything and everything imagined to be sufficient. The argument leaves us nowhere. It is a “God of the Gaps Fallacy.”
Thanks for your thoughts! [quote=“Old_man_shouts_at_cl, post:8, topic:847, full:true”]
It may 'seem logical" but gets you nowhere near the god of the bible.
@Old_man_shouts_at_cl uld you be open to stating that it doesn’t conclusively get me to the God of the Bible? I feel that’s a more accurate statement than its gets me nowhere near. Let me explain.
Let’s say you and I are in a house and we can’t leave. Outside there’s something making noises and we’re both trying to guess what it is. I say, “it’s nothing” and you say “it’s a car”. with no arguments we indeed are no where. However, if you reasonably point out “that sounds like a door closing, and an engine starting, and tires screeching, therefore it’s a car.” I would say that if accurately pointed out, then by qualification of matching characteristics to your claimed object, you ARE closer to proving your claimed object you would have to be logially. Now of course we could say that there are alternate explanations that it COULD be; however, within the range of possiblities a car is one of them and therefore saying that these sounds “don’t get you near a car being outside” feels like too strong a claim. Rather it would be fair to say “these sounds don’t conclusively prove that a car is outside, it could be the neighbors theater sound system (or something like that)”. Not sure if that makes sense. I wanted to agree with you but not to the strength that your sentence is currently structured.
I actually agree with this. When scientists speak of the “universe” they are not referencing that into which the universe is expanding. The Multiverse theory is an attempt to take us beyond what is actually known and into that realm beyond our own universe. (Not sure why they call it a “Theory.” I’m pretty sure it is just a ‘hypothesis’ and not much different than the God of the Gaps. (LOL: Someone is going to shoot me down for that last comment. Well, if they can… I will learn something new.)