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Featured What is wrong with the Kalam Cosmological Argument?

Discussion in 'Science and Religion' started by leroy, Dec 28, 2018.

  1. leroy

    leroy Well-Known Member

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    In my experience atheists tend to dance around the KCA but they usually don't explain with clear words their point of disagreement.


    1. In this context "universe" means " all phisical reality" (including time) universe simply means all the natural world.

    1. The claim is that regardless if there was something before the big bang or not , there was an absolute begining at some point in the past.
    So what is wrong with the KCA? Do you agree with premise 1? Do you agree with premise 2? Does the conclusion follows from the premises?

    What exactly do you think is wrong with the argument? Please try to provide direct and clear answers.

    There are only 3 alternatives

    1 the universe (the physical/ natural world) came from nothing (literally nothing)

    2 the universe has always existed, it is eternal

    3 the universe has a cause (which by definition would have to be a supernatural cause)

    So which one of these 3 alternatives do you pick? Or perhaps there is a fourth option that I haven't thought about.
     
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  2. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Can you demonstrate the first premise is true? If so, how would you go about doing that? Would you make an inductive argument for it? Then how would you overcome the problem of induction?
     
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  3. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    A supernatural cause? That's a curious statement. Are you familiar with the notion advanced by some mathematicians and others that the laws of mathematics are in some sense real, eternal, and efficacious? Those folks say the universe may have emanated from the laws of mathematics. I myself am neither for nor against such a proposition, but I find it both interesting and a possibility. What do you make of it?
     
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  4. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    Oh now you is just dancing around.
     
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  5. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Not at all. Although I'm far from being proficient in physics, I've often enough heard various physicists say that the concept of "causation" does not apply to the initial state of the universe for various reasons -- none of which I can recall with any great precision at the moment.

    In addition, like many people with no social life to speak of, I take the problem of induction quite seriously. We know so very little about the totality of the universe -- there could still be some "black swans" out there, and most likely are. For one thing, the uniformity principle has never been confirmed, and is most likely never to be confirmed.
     
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  6. viole

    viole Ontological Naturalist
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    What is wrong with the argument? That it is still used. since it is very easy to knock down. Well, for sure it shows its age, since it can make some sense only if we use very old physics. And I do not dance around dead horses, usually.

    Both premises, and their combination, are not necessarily true. For instance (just a few)

    1) "Begin to exist" assumes a time context. Unless you can define "begin" without "time". Time is not objective, as we learned from relativity, so it is not even clear what premise 1) means. Especially since you include time into the set of things that began to exist, which is clearly nonsensical. More importantly, "begin" assumes a time arrow as well (going from past to future passing through present), and the direction of time is a macroscopic phenomenon. A statistical one (Boltzmann, Rovelli). That is, it requires already an Universe in thermal imbalance to make sense.

    2) That everything that begins to exists has a cause (assuming it makes sense despite 1)), is an empirical observation. We observe that in our universe. Extending it to the whole Universe (the context in which observations take place) is at danger of committing the composition fallacy. That is, properties applicable to the contained cannot be extended to the container, in general.

    3) Since the fact that time has a direction is a macroscopical effect, it is definitely not applicable to the fundamental world. Microscopically, causality vanishes (cannot say what the cause or the effect is) since all directions of time are equivalent (unless we borrow the one of our lab, which is again macroscopic). Therefore, when the Universe "was" at fundamental level (and there were no labs around), saying that the alleged cause of the Universe, if any, was not an effect thereof instead, is question begging.

    And so on and so on.

    But let's analyze your alternatives:

    1 the universe (the physical/ natural world) came from nothing (literally nothing)
    --> You are using a tense verb (came) and a "from". You are assuming a time and space context in which space time contexts can come from. This is obviously meaningless (and circular).

    2 the universe has always existed, it is eternal
    -> This is not only possible but likely. All we have to do is to use a relativistic ontology of time (B-series), and come to the conclusion that our Universe is a block Universe. Actually, most of modern science has eliminated time from physics. Not all physicists agree, but many think that the block Universe (leading to eternalism) best corresponds to what we learned from Einstein (Rovelli, Greene). In that case, the Universe would be eternal (and unchanging, necessarily). The Big Bang and all the rest would then be events on an immutable spacetime surface. Existing eternally. This seems to be the case also if we include QM (Wheeler, de Witt).

    3 the universe has a cause (which by definition would have to be a supernatural cause)
    --> Assuming that the universe has a cause (despite all open points above), it is not necessarily a supernatural one. For instance, there are theories that postulate that the Universe spawned from another Universe that reached global equilibrium (see Carroll). Not to talk of eternal inflation, baby Universe sprouting out all of the "time", etc.
    True, none of these theories are proved, but they are on the table, like your supernatural ones, so you have first to be sure that all naturalistic explanations are false, before having necessity of supernaturalism. Good luck with that. Probably, you think eternal and infinite regress is impossible, good luck with that too. I still have to see an argument that shows logical contradictions with infinite regress, even if our Universe is not the product of infinite regress.

    Talking of infinite regress: it is even possible to have infinite regress that takes finite time. Ergo, an infinite chain of causality and yet a finite age. In that case, everything that began to exist has a cause and a bounded age, while there is no initial uncaused cause.

    But I stop here. Listing all possible independent rebuttals of Kalam would turn this into a monster post.

    Ciao

    - viole
     
    #6 viole, Dec 28, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2018
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  7. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    You answered the mouse- q with a q, which is
    betimes the thing to do, but could be taken as
    evasion.

    I will assume you are preaching to the choir,
    witn that bad tempered mouse as the intended
    audience.

    Personally, I think it is a worn out tiresome bit
    of pseudo logic.

    The cosmo has very obvious flaws that
    Wiki can address for those who cant see them.

    Re physics, I am far from a physicist- calculus
    and trig just about killed me off. I do get it
    though, that after the first layer, things get
    less and less intuitive.
     
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  8. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    @viole gave the best comprehensive response. I have nothing to add.
     
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  9. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    I am not an atheist, and the ancient archaic Kalam argument has been easily refuted for a very long [email protected] gave an excellent response.
     
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  10. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    I'm not usually interested in these sorts of arguments. This morning, however, I had a moment's curiosity how the mouse would address my questions. I'll probably lose interest once he answers them. That's to say, I suspect his answers will do little or nothing to help me better understand the world -- which is almost a prerequisite of my being interested in any intellectual discussion these days, and also why I rapidly drop out of so many.

    Good points, and I agree with you.
     
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  11. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    That's not necessarily so.

    For example, if spacetime is the result of the existence of mass-energy (rather than mass-energy existing within spacetime) then the existence of mass-energy does away with the need for a beginning.
    Literal nothingness is absolute non-existence. How an event can occur without a time, a place and mass-energy escapes me.
    See above.
    We think on good grounds that the universe began with the Big Bang, which science has been trying to model since the middle of last century, with considerable success, though it's still a work in progress.

    The Big Bang as we presently conceive by its very nature denies us access to knowledge of anything that existed before. Indeed, since our model says it brought our spacetime into existence, just what (if anything) 'before' means here is a quandary of its own.

    But as I said above, I have great difficulties, in philosophy as well as physics, about creation from an authentic nothing, so I favor the view that the Big Bang arose within a pre-existing physical context. And having said that, I mention again the notion that mass-energy pre-existed our universe and that our space-time arose as a result of the qualities of mass-energy.


    Also, the typical cosmological argument, following Aristotle, thinks in terms of chains of causes, all leading back to the First Cause.

    My mass-energy hypothesis would obviate the need for a First Cause, but if that idea doesn't appeal to you, then consider that in Quantum Mechanics we find the idea of events which are uncaused in terms of classical physics, such as the spontaneous formation and instant mutual annihilation of particle-antiparticle pairs that give rise to the Casimir effect; and the emission of any particular particle in the course of radioactive decay. (In QM they're accounted for statistically rather than causally.)
     
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  12. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    First, causality is part of the universe. So your first statement should be

    1. Everything that begins to exist in the universe has a cause in the universe.

    This is the statement that has some possibility of being true (although more later). But, of course, in this formulation, you cannot apply it to the universe at large.

    Another aspect of this is that time is *also* a part of the universe. So, whenever you talk about 'before' or 'after', you are talking about time and thereby must already be within the universe.

    So, when you say something 'comes into being', you are already using the notion of time and, so, already are in the context of the universe.

    Because of this issue, I don't think you can say that the universe 'began to exist'. Whenever there was time, the universe exists. Whenever the universe exists, there is time. Outside of time, the notion of 'beginning to exist' makes no sense.

    Now, the question of whether time goes infinitely far into the past or not is a question to be addressed by science, not philosophy. At this point, we have no way to test between the options. But there is certainly no internal contradiction with the possibility that time (and the universe) go infinitely into the past.

    Next, the discoveries of modern science bring into question even the restricted modification of 1 I gave. Quantum mechanics is a non-causal scientific description of how the universe works. it is also, by far, the most accurate description we have ever had. That alone brings into question whether every event actually does have a cause. And, in fact, there is good evidence that many quantum events do NOT have a cause in any traditional sense.
     
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  13. 'mud

    'mud ~~ Life is Stuff ~~
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    #1...it doesn't matter !
    #2...It doesn't matter !
    #3...It doesn't matter !

    In one's own life...and the next,
    It Doesn't matter !
     
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  14. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    What would a "supernatural" (magic) cause be?
     
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  15. YmirGF

    YmirGF Bodhisattva

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    and how could you possibly verify it as such?
     
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  16. columbus

    columbus yawn <ignore> yawn

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    There's another aspect of KCA that theists tend to dance around.
    Even if the universe is the simple, intuitive, place where KCA is an accurate description
    this doesn't tell us anything whatsoever about The Cause. The vast majority of religions start implying and asserting characteristics that do not logically follow. Even the most elementary, such as The Creator exists now, are not supported by KCA. Maybe The Creator ceased to exist at the Big Bang. Nor does it support the assertion that the Big Bang was a deliberate act, maybe it was an inconsequential side effect or waste dump.

    KCA certainly doesn't support anything like the "king with superpowers" image of God generally held by Abrahamic religions. The most that can be logically derived from KCA is a vague, non-theistic, sort of deism.
    Tom
     
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  17. viole

    viole Ontological Naturalist
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    Good point.

    To use wuch arguments is actually self defeating. If I were a Christian, I would be intellectually fulfilled if I had evidence that Christianity is true. Not simply that a god exists. But that would entail evidence of miracles, prophecies, resurrections, whatever that would justify my faith in Jesus and not, say, Allah.

    But in this case, I would not scrape for difficult and dangerous philosophical evidence of a not well specified cause, god, whatever. I would simply show the evidence of jesus.

    Actually, going through general philosophical arguments, is implicit admission that the evidence that justifies my faith in a special brand of god, is not sufficient to logically justify my faith.

    Ciao

    - viole
     
    #17 viole, Dec 28, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2018
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  18. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    I wouldn't even say that Kalaam even supports a deistic god. All it asserts is a cause, period.
     
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  19. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    I know of 27 hypotheses which can be validated mathematically or/and through observations of our own universe


    This is one of the hypothesis,
    Spontaneous creation of the universe from nothing

    A possibility but not very high considering the universe is expanding so it is assumed that at a point around 13.8 billion years ago it didnt exist

    Totally wrong.
    First, no cause is required because causality as we understand it did not exist until after the bb. Meaning that the universe itself was the cause of causality.
    Second, there are several hypothesis in which our universe budded off another universe or was formed by collision of universes.
    Third, there are no hypothesis in which our universe was formed by unknowable (supernatural/god magic) causes.

    It makes invalid assumptions based on guesswork and misunderstanding of the 1st law of thermodynamics.

    P.s., I'm atheist, care to dance?
     
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  20. Willamena

    Willamena Just me
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    There is a fourth alternative, which is that all that exists is now. The past is what resides in memory, and prediction, at best, only entails a future.

    1 the universe (the physical/ natural world) came from nothing (literally nothing)
    This idea is unworkable, as nothing comes of it. We can postulate the absence of everything only because there is anything. So, technically, nothing only comes from something, not the other way around.

    2 the universe has always existed, it is eternal

    Aristotle argued (so I am told) that this is the necessary condition. Time is an illusion of change: what we call time progressing forward is just the physical world demonstrating change. The bud becomes the flower, which becomes the dust and soil in which a new bud arises. Change as a process gives us a progression of (seemingly) beginnings and endings, but itself has (can have) no beginning and no end.

    3 the universe has a cause (which by definition would have to be a supernatural cause)

    There are two ideas of thought about "first cause." In modern times, we commonly think in terms of time, space, and sequence, so one idea is that the "first cause" was the temporal beginning of a chain of events, and that is the intent in Kalam's argument.

    The other is that of a "ground of being," where each event is directly and individually caused, and this has been at the heart of other author's works. The director of events is like a puppeteer sitting behind a curtain pulling levers and strings. He is the "beginning" of everything that plays out on the stage before him (the ending, or outcome). I much prefer this idea of a supernatural cause to Kalam's.

     
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