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Author Topic:   The Kalam cosmological argument
Deleted
Inactive Junior Member


Message 1 of 177 (573919)
08-13-2010 5:47 AM


Hello everyone on EvC,

I've been reading this forum for some time, and I must say that it is not what I expected.
From previous experiences forum discussions are half spam, many arguments are said dozens of times, maybe a few new ones, and a lot grapped out of thin air without saying the sources.

Here it is much better, discussions have a good topic, no jumping from argument to argument.

If you dont mind I will use this forum also to gather arguments, as on creationists sites they only say arguments for creation, on evolutionists for evolution. And maybe sometimes a reaction on a argument.
You'd probable get my point now.

---------------------off topic ends here---------------------------

The Kalam cosmological argument, pretty simple to put in a syllogism.
(for those who dont know that term: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syllogism)

Syllogism 1
Premise 1: Entropy always grows (second law of thermodynamics)
Premise 2: The universe has not reached total entropy.
Conclusion :The universe has started/has not excisted for an infinite amount of time.

Syllogism 2
Premise 1: The universe has started
Premise 2: Everything that happens/starts has a cause.
Conclusion : The universe has a cause (to excist/what started it)

Syllogism 3
Premise 1: The universe has a cause
Premise 2: Within spacetime there is the law of causality (cause and effect)
Conclusion: The "First cause" isnt inside spacetime.

I would like to hear what you think of this/where the problems are in this argument.


"Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love."
- Einstein
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Message 2 of 177 (573932)
08-13-2010 7:24 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the The Kalam cosmological argument thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
Huntard
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Posts: 2870
From: Limburg, The Netherlands
Joined: 09-02-2008


(3)
Message 3 of 177 (573935)
08-13-2010 7:33 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Deleted
08-13-2010 5:47 AM


PrinceGhaldir writes:

I would like to hear what you think of this/where the problems are in this argument.


I think it is a flawed argument, and this is why:

Syllogism 1
Premise 1: Entropy always grows (second law of thermodynamics)

Wrong, entropy can decrease, at least, in an open system. And even in a closed system, entropy can locally decrease.

Premise 2: The universe has not reached total entropy.

Obviously.

Conclusion :The universe has started/has not excisted for an infinite amount of time.

"Has started" is a loaded term, and might not be the right way of puttng it when concerning the universe.

Syllogism 2
Premise 1: The universe has started.

Again, "started" is probably not the right term.

Premise 2: Everything that happens/starts has a cause.

Unevidenced.

Conclusion : The universe has a cause (to excist/what started it)

There is no evidence for this. Further, "cause" implies a "before", there was no "before" the big bang, just like there is no "north" of the north pole.

Syllogism 3
Premise 1: The universe has a cause

Unevidenced.

Premise 2: Within spacetime there is the law of causality (cause and effect)

Exactly. Within spacetime there is. The universe is spacetime.

Conclusion: The "First cause" isnt inside spacetime.

It hasn't even been shown there is a first cause.
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PaulK
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(1)
Message 4 of 177 (573938)
08-13-2010 7:57 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Deleted
08-13-2010 5:47 AM


I've discussed the Kalam argument before. IMHO the biggest problem is the attempt to move beyond the idea that the universe has a cause to the idea that that cause must be God. However, there are some awkward points even in this version.

May I ask if English is not your native language ? I ask because it is usual to use "begins" or "has a beginning" rather than "starts" in the Kalam argument, and "begins" is a better choice of word - although the distinction is one that a non-native speaker might easily miss. Not that your English is bad - it's certainly understandable

quote:

Syllogism 1
Premise 1: Entropy always grows (second law of thermodynamics)
Premise 2: The universe has not reached total entropy.
Conclusion :The universe has started/has not excisted for an infinite amount of time.

This raises some issues for later points Either past time is finite or the 2LoT only applies within our universe and not to any hypothetical reality beyond our universe.

quote:

Syllogism 2
Premise 1: The universe has started
Premise 2: Everything that happens/starts has a cause.
Conclusion : The universe has a cause (to excist/what started it)

Premise 2 is questionable, but there are some subtle issues here.
If past time is finite, then it may be the case that the universe has existed for all time - there was never a time when it did not exist. Is Premise 2 true in that case ? Can we even call that a beginning, since it is so different from the beginnings we are familiar with ?

And we should point out that Premise 2 is what is often called "the law of cause and effect" and therefore Premise 2 must insist that this law applies outside of our universe.

quote:

Syllogism 3
Premise 1: The universe has a cause
Premise 2: Within spacetime there is the law of causality (cause and effect)
Conclusion: The "First cause" isnt inside spacetime.

This is just invalid. If Premise 2 is meant to claim that cause and effect only apply within spacetime then the conclusion must be that the universe exists within spacetime - and presumably its cause would, too. We cannot have causes without cause and effect.

However, if our universe is not embedded in a surrounding spacetime, and everything beyond it is timeless then the existence of the universe must also be timeless - time is something that only applies within the universe. And how can we have cause and effect without time ? With no time there can be no change, with no change there can be no effects.

Thus it seems that the best options are either a cause within spacetime or a universe that exists timelessly (as seen from "outside") with time merely a feature within it - an uncaused universe.


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Deleted
Inactive Junior Member


Message 5 of 177 (574363)
08-15-2010 1:54 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Huntard
08-13-2010 7:33 AM


Syllogism 1
Premise 1: Entropy always grows (second law of thermodynamics)

Wrong, entropy can decrease, at least, in an open system. And even in a closed system, entropy can locally decrease.

But the average trend will be towards entropy, otherwise the second law of thermodynamics doesnt goes ...(what is the right word? Up? count?)

But premise 1/2 can be replaced by anything that proves the universe is not infinite, like: if the universe excisted for an infinite time, we could not have a tomorrow. As we would have more than infinite days.

There is no evidence for this. Further, "cause" implies a "before", there was no "before" the big bang, just like there is no "north" of the north pole.

But the question I have, is: what caused the big bang?
Because it either must have a cause, or a supernatural power created it. (To translate in your example: When you're reached the north pole, you've found the cause for it being the north pole the magnetic field. If you've reached the big bang, you would find the cause.)

Oh and you're right PaulK. I ain't a native English speaker, I agree with you that begins fits the context better.

Edited by PrinceGhaldir, : No reason given.


"Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love."
- Einstein
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jar
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Posts: 29183
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 6 of 177 (574364)
08-15-2010 1:58 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Deleted
08-15-2010 1:54 PM


But premise 1/2 can be replaced by anything that proves the universe is not infinite, like: if the universe excisted for an infinite time, we could not have a tomorrow. As we would have more than infinite days.

Not quite. Infinity plus one is still infinity.

But the question I have, is: what caused the big bang?
Because it either must have a cause, or a supernatural power created it.

Why? Why does something have to have a cause and even if it did, why could the cause not be something totally trivial?


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
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Dr Jack
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Posts: 3505
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 7 of 177 (574366)
08-15-2010 2:09 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Deleted
08-13-2010 5:47 AM


Syllogism 2
Premise 1: The universe has started
Premise 2: Everything that happens/starts has a cause.
Conclusion : The universe has a cause (to excist/what started it)

1. This is the fallacy of composition, your conclusion does not follow from your premises
2. Premise 2 appears to be false anyway (q.v. Quantum Mechanics)


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cavediver
Member (Idle past 1140 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


(2)
Message 8 of 177 (574370)
08-15-2010 2:47 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Deleted
08-15-2010 1:54 PM


But premise 1/2 can be replaced by anything that proves the universe is not infinite, like: if the universe excisted for an infinite time, we could not have a tomorrow. As we would have more than infinite days.

Neither argument is valid. The Universe does not progress one day at a time. This is merely our own perception based on our consciousness. And the entropy argument is incorrect - in an expanding Universe, it is possible that there is no thermal equilibrium, and entropy can grow unbounded.

The Universe may or may not have a finite extent in the past time-like direction. At the moment, we do not know.

But the question I have, is: what caused the big bang?

Three possibilities (amongst others):

The Big Bang is simply a squeeze point in cosmological evolution, and time simply extends backwards before the Big Bang.

The Big Bang represents a beginning of our own time and 3-dimensional space, and is caused by the physics of a higher dimensional space-time in which our Universe is embedded.

The Big Bang is the earliest moment in our Universe. There is no prior time, no higher-dimensional space-time, it exists as one point in the Universe just as the North Pole (axial, not magnetic) exist as one point on the Earth. It has no cause, other than being one point in the Universe, so is a necessary part of the Universe just as the North Pole is a necessary point on the Earth. There is no "before" the Big Bang, there is no "outside" the Universe. The Universe simply "is".

You may wish to suggest that a "divine being" brought this entire existence into being - and that is fine - but you have no tools to construct a proof of this. Cause and effect are merely concepts that exist within the Universe, where a well-defined time-direction can be chosen. Attempting to apply this to the 4d Universe as a whole is futile, as you have no concept of time nor of time-ordering.

The Kalam cosmological argument is far too simplistic in the light of 20th/21st century physics and cosmology. It is a good 100 years past any level of applicability.


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Huntard
Member
Posts: 2870
From: Limburg, The Netherlands
Joined: 09-02-2008


Message 9 of 177 (574463)
08-16-2010 4:47 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Deleted
08-15-2010 1:54 PM


PrinceGhaldir writes:

But premise 1/2 can be replaced by anything that proves the universe is not infinite, like: if the universe excisted for an infinite time, we could not have a tomorrow. As we would have more than infinite days.


Well no, like has been pointed out, you can add to infinity, it would simply stay infinity. There are more than 1 infinities, and some are larger than others (no, I cannot explain this (sorry), at least not like it should be explained with math equations).

But the question I have, is: what caused the big bang?
Because it either must have a cause, or a supernatural power created it.

Cavediver explained this.

To translate in your example: When you're reached the north pole, you've found the cause for it being the north pole the magnetic field.

That's not the "cause" of the North Pole. In fact, the magnetic North pole is not the actual North Pole, which is the axial North pole. The "cause" of the North pole (if it can be called that) is that that is the point hrough which the axis of the Earth runs.

If you've reached the big bang, you would find the cause

If you'd reach the big bang, you'd be dead.
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nwr
Member
Posts: 5531
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 10 of 177 (574505)
08-16-2010 9:11 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Deleted
08-13-2010 5:47 AM


Why these arguments always fail
When I look at these kinds of arguments, I can always tell that they will fail even without reading the argument itself. I do have to read the argument to find the details of how they fail. That the arguments will fail, however, can be seen before reading them.

Why?

It's a general principle of logic. Perhaps it is also a general principle of life, but it is specifically, a general principle of logic. Roughly speaking, that general principle says:

  • There is no such thing as free lunch.

In logical terms, the principle is that a conclusion can never yield more than is already implicit in the premises. All logic can do is rearrange the assumptions, so as to make more obvious part of what was assumed. Perhaps it is because of my background in mathematics, that this principle of logic is particularly apparent to me.

If a logical argument assumes nothing about the world, then it cannot logically derive any conclusions about the world. At best it can come up with some esoteric relation between logical connectives (the sort of thing that turns people away from mathematics).

When we see one of these arguments that purports to reach a conclusion about reality (such as that God exists), but without using any evidence, then we can immediately know that the argument smuggles in some assumptions about reality, and is using those hidden assumptions as the basis for the conclusions. So the way to examine the argument, is to look for the hidden assumptions.

Typically, in these arguments, the hidden assumptions are in the form of very general statements perhaps described as first principles. And then the argument proceeds to supposedly deduce a very specific conclusion from the very general assumption. The trouble here is that the very general statements are often only true in a very general sense - as a kind of broad average way of looking at things. If you try to pin them down to detail, then their truth becomes questionable. For example, look at premise 2 of syllogism 2 in the OP: "Everything that happens/starts has a cause." That's a good general statement that summarizes how things normally look to us. But when you get down to specifics you find that quantum physics does report spontaneous (i.e. uncaused) events. The thing to remember about logic, is that the logic requires that a premise not merely be generally true as a statement of what is typical. Rather, the logic requires that the premise be absolutely true in all details and in all relevant applications.

There's a general class of paradoxes, known as the Sorites paradoxes, that illustrate what can go wrong when you base an argument of statements of general truth that fail to be true in all details. See the wikipedia entry or the SEP entry for examples and discussion.

Looking at the arguments in the OP, they are all of this kind. The second and third use general assertions about cause as their starting assumptions. The first uses a general statement about entropy ("entropy always increases") as a starting assumption.

Even without the evidence from quantum physics, we could look at assumptions of the form "everything has a cause", and we ought to realize that this is at most a general observation and not anything that we can prove.

The entropy assumption has similar problems. For all we know, there might be processes acting in the universe that tend to reduce entropy, in such a way that they counteract the general tendency of entropy to increase. The observed expansion of the universe might be reducing entropy. Or the total universe might be infinite, so that you can always keep the entropy down by pushing it somewhere else - that's like the way that there is always room for more guests in Hilbert's Hotel.

When you see arguments that seem to assume little, but prove much, it is time to be skeptical. Always remember that there is no such thing as free lunch.


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Straggler
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Posts: 10196
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 11 of 177 (574507)
08-16-2010 9:38 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by nwr
08-16-2010 9:11 AM


Re: Why these arguments always fail
When you see arguments that seem to assume little, but prove much, it is time to be skeptical.

Hmmmmm you seem to be presenting an argument that assumes little but proves much........?

(I am only kidding. I agree with the sort of principle you are stating)


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nwr
Member
Posts: 5531
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 12 of 177 (574513)
08-16-2010 9:58 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Straggler
08-16-2010 9:38 AM


Re: Why these arguments always fail
Straggler writes:
Hmmmmm you seem to be presenting an argument that assumes little but proves much........?

Then it is time for you to be skeptical.

Straggler writes:
I agree with the sort of principle you are stating

At least you got that part right. I wasn't making an argument - I was presenting a statement.

Obviously, people are free to ignore my statement. And, obviously, many will. I don't expect bogus arguments to suddenly stop coming.

What always amuses me, is that the people who I see presenting these arguments seem to think that they argue for the Christian god. But if the argument actually worked, it would make as strong a case for Thor or Zeus or the deist's god, or for the IPU or the FSM. I expect the presenters often know that, but they try to avoid publically admitting to that flaw.


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Deleted
Inactive Junior Member


Message 13 of 177 (574740)
08-17-2010 2:31 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by cavediver
08-15-2010 2:47 PM


Reply to cavediver and nwr
The Universe does not progress one day at a time. This is merely our own perception based on our consciousness.

The point is that time passes.

he Big Bang is simply a squeeze point in cosmological evolution, and time simply extends backwards before the Big Bang.

The Big Bang represents a beginning of our own time and 3-dimensional space, and is caused by the physics of a higher dimensional space-time in which our Universe is embedded.

But with these, you are not saying/proving anything, you only move your problem somewhere else.

There is no "before" the Big Bang, there is no "outside" the Universe. The Universe simply "is".

I dont really get what you mean with this (and the paragraph).

---------------------------nwr-------------------------

In logical terms...look for the hidden assumptions.

I totally agree with you, good piece!

About your quantum physics, a piece out of: "In Defense Of The Kalam Cosmological Argument" by William Lane Craig

"The central point to be made here is that the quantum mechanical vacuum on which [virtual particles] depend for their existence is emphatically not nothing. The dynamical properties of vacuous space arise out of its interaction with matter and radiation fields, in the absence of which 'this dynamism of empty space is but a formal abstraction lacking physical reality.' The quantum vacuum is a sea of fluctuating energy which gives rise to virtual particles. Thus, virtual particles can hardly be said to arise without a cause"

Ofcourse this is only one case, but I think that nothing happens without a cause. But what the cause is, if we can even see it, that indeed is doubtful.

Even without the evidence from quantum physics, we could look at assumptions of the form "everything has a cause", and we ought to realize that this is at most a general observation and not anything that we can prove.

That's right it is a falsifiable theorie, all we can do is disprove it we cant prove it. But you also could say, that you can assume its correct untill proven wrong. I dont really see a point in saying that it is wrong (in this case).

The observed expansion of the universe might be reducing entropy.

But if the universe is expanding for an infinite amount of time, the universe would be infinitely big. So I dont think that the entropy would reduce.


"Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love."
- Einstein
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cavediver
Member (Idle past 1140 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 14 of 177 (574744)
08-17-2010 2:48 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Deleted
08-17-2010 2:31 PM


Re: Reply to cavediver and nwr
The point is that time passes.

No, it does not. There is no concept of "time passing" in physics. This is simply our perception. There is no universal clock that ticks away, one minute, hour, day at a time. The fact that this misconception arises time and again in similar discussions simply demonstrates the lack of awareness of 20th century fundemental physics. With just Special Relativity we can see how flawed this concept is by considering (the lack of) simultaneity.

But with these, you are not saying/proving anything

Excuse me - I was answering your question. Are you usuqally so rude to those that spend their time answering your questions?

you only move your problem somewhere else.

I have no problem to move. You had a question. It was answered.

I dont really get what you mean with this (and the paragraph).

Fair enough - it is not an easy concept to appreciate. But until you can appreciate it, you will never be able to see one of the biggest flaws in the Kalam cosmological argument.

But if the universe is expanding for an infinite amount of time, the universe would be infinitely big. So I dont think that the entropy would reduce.

No, it would not. But nor would it necessarily have a maximum - i.e. there may not be a state of thermal equilibrium. So youe entropy argument fails either way.

Edited by cavediver, : No reason given.


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nwr
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Posts: 5531
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


(1)
Message 15 of 177 (574745)
08-17-2010 2:49 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Deleted
08-17-2010 2:31 PM


Re: Reply to cavediver and nwr
PrinceGhaldir writes:
About your quantum physics, a piece out of: "In Defense Of The Kalam Cosmological Argument" by William Lane Craig

"The central point to be made here is that the quantum mechanical vacuum on which [virtual particles] depend for their existence is emphatically not nothing. The dynamical properties of vacuous space arise out of its interaction with matter and radiation fields, in the absence of which 'this dynamism of empty space is but a formal abstraction lacking physical reality.' The quantum vacuum is a sea of fluctuating energy which gives rise to virtual particles. Thus, virtual particles can hardly be said to arise without a cause"


The fact remains, that radioactive decay meets all of the tests for randomness. And that's pretty strong evidence that each decay event is uncaused.

PrinceGhaldir writes:
But if the universe is expanding for an infinite amount of time, the universe would be infinitely big.

That does not actually follow. After an infinite amount of time has elapsed, it might be infinitely big. But that point is never reached.
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