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Author Topic:   The Kalam cosmological argument
Noetherian Atheist
Junior Member (Idle past 3787 days)
Posts: 7
From: London
Joined: 08-19-2010


Message 31 of 177 (576626)
08-24-2010 8:17 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by Deleted
08-20-2010 6:14 PM


PrinceG,

I think you misunderstand.

Your OP first set forth the KCA and then asked:

PrinceGhaldir writes:

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

My response was, in the first instance, just an attempt to be informative - a bit of historical background, if you like. I was nitpicking a bit, in that the argument you set out was actually not the KCA, but the original Cosmological Argument (no Kalam). The reason for the difference is to get round a big problem which goes a long way back (possibly ancient Greece): the problem of infinite regress. Since you asked for problems, I thought this would be a good one.

The point of the KCA, and why it is different from the argument you set forth, is that it deals with the problem of infinite regress by adding a further step to the argument: infinite regress cannot occur in "actuality" (nothing infinite can exist in actuality), and therefore the chain of anitcedant causes must stop. Wherever it stops is a "final" (or "first" if you prefer) cause which does not itself have a cause: a good candidate for God. Btw, I think this second step is invalid: IMO it is far from obvious that nothing infinite can exist in actuality, but that's not the point. I think there is a certain elegance to the argument, and it can be convincing to some (it's very hard to think of/imagine infinite things).

PrinceGhaldir writes:

But you forget one thing, God is almighty.

Apologies, I should have said "Cause1, Cause2, Cause3," rather than "God, God2, God3,", and been a bit more precise about the problem I was highlighting. The conclusion of the argument (as you set it out) says nothing about God, only that the universe has a cause. So, my point was that if the argument is valid & proves the universe has a cause, then it can be turned round and applied to that cause of the universe (why not?) to prove that "Cause 2", a cause of the "cause of the universe", exists, and thence "Cause3" and so ad infinitum. No one's said anything about God here, so there's nothing to object to so far.

However, if your next step after KCA is to deduce that God exists (he's the creator of the universe), then the existence of an infinite regress of causes does present a problem for the standard Judaeo-Christian-Islamic (and many more, no doubt) definition of God: God has to be uncaused - whereas each cause in the infinite chain established by KCA has an antecedant cause (and so can't be God). You cannot (using this line of reasoing) get from the deduction that the universe has a cause to "God exists" without first ruling out infinite regress. The point of KCA is it does (or attempts to) do this - it deals with the problem of infinite regress without appealing to God's properties.

None of this deals with the second part of my post, which was explains what IMO is the the most serious flaw in the Cosmological Argument, and pretty much all similar arguments (KCA included) - it doesn't matter how you phase the first premise: "exists", or "begins to exist", nor whether the God you infer may be subjected the Argument himself. No, the argment simply can't be applied to the universe because of premise 2. The universe is not a "thing" in the same sense as the "things" referred to in Premise 1. Here I am making absolutely no assertions concerning God, either for or against, it's about the validity of the argument as it applies to the universe.

On a side note, I think these types of argument are fundamentally unconvincing. In an earlier post, nwr makes an excellent point:

nwr writes:

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.

I don't think a purely logical argument can really either prove or disprove anything about the real world: the theist will invariably argue that God is not subject to the laws of logic (as you did). In fairness, this line of argument must work both ways - could God really be proven by a logical argiment? For that argument to be true, logic would need to apply to God - God would subject to logic, which is not something any theist I know would accept. I think these type of arguments are more like parlour games - the point is to work out what the "trick" is, why they don't really work.

You got me: mathematician. So I know very little about anything practical, like palaeontology, archaeology, geology, cosmology, quantum physics, microbiology, genetics,... And Atheist, so no: God is not.


Bye

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jasonlang
Member (Idle past 2637 days)
Posts: 51
From: Australia
Joined: 07-14-2005


Message 32 of 177 (579288)
09-04-2010 2:06 AM
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."

Read up on Cantor's theorem etc if you'd like a great discussion of the idea of infinity (there's more than one type of inifinity, and they are definitely not the same mathematical value). "White Light" by Rudy Rucker is quite an amusing novel discussing the ideas btw.


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jasonlang
Member (Idle past 2637 days)
Posts: 51
From: Australia
Joined: 07-14-2005


Message 33 of 177 (579290)
09-04-2010 2:33 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Huntard
08-16-2010 4:47 AM


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).

Hi Huntard, popped in to visit and just noticed your post. Cantor was a bit of an interest of mine a few years back so I feel I can explain (maybe my terminology may not match Cantor Exactly).

The first infinity (Aleph-0) is the amount of integer (whole) numbers from 1, or any starting point to 'infinity' (or negative infinity). eg 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. No matter which infinite set of whole numbers you take they can be 'mapped' to any other 'infinte' set of integers by applying any consistent rule you can make up.

To map the axis 0-to-infinity to "-infinity to +infinity", you can apply a rule such as :

0=0, 1=1, 2=-1 ,3=2, 4=-2 etc, etc

This proves that Aleph-0 * any number = Aleph-0. Adding an extra number in is done the same, so proving Aleph-0 + any number = Aleph-0 as well.

The value 'c' (continuum) is the other important infinity, suspected by Cantor's Hypothesis, but not proved to be, 'Aleph-1' the second lowest infinity. c is the number of points in a line. Many properties of this infinity are totally different from Aleph-0. You can map Aleph-0 into 'c' but not the other way around (Cantor's Theorem provable by the diagonal argument). This provides a direct proof that there are more than one infinity, and some are bigger than others.

The difference may be clearer if I point out that Aleph-0 is the size of the set of all numbers with a finite number of digits (the set of all finite strings), while all the entities in the 'c'-sized set have an infinite number of digits (after the decimal point) (the set of all infinite strings).

A consequence of how this works is that any Aleph-0 set can be ordered in a hypothetical 'list' from 1 to infinity without missing any. Trying to order a 'c' sized set into a sequential list turns out to be theoretically impossible, which is the basis of the Cantor's diagonal argument proof.

For this reason Aleph-0 sets are referred to as "countable/countably" infinite sets and 'c' sets as "uncountable"

Edited by jasonlang, : No reason given.

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jasonlang
Member (Idle past 2637 days)
Posts: 51
From: Australia
Joined: 07-14-2005


Message 34 of 177 (579292)
09-04-2010 3:07 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by Deleted
08-17-2010 2:31 PM


Re: Reply to cavediver and nwr
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.

If the rate of expansion slowed geometrically, the universe could continue to expand for infinite time to only a finite size, so your first clause is not necessarily true.

Edited by jasonlang, : No reason given.


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Deleted
Inactive Junior Member


Message 35 of 177 (581654)
09-16-2010 7:11 PM
Reply to: Message 31 by Noetherian Atheist
08-24-2010 8:17 PM


Noetherian Atheist, if I am correct your middle part of your post practically says that for the argument to be correct you first have to "break" the chain of causes (cause2, cause 3 etc). As theoratically it can go on into infinity. Right? (before I am making a whole post out of a misunderstanding)

By the way, sorry that I wont be able to reply to every post. I've just started a study (chemistry) and such. Also I dont want to spend too much time on a post, as I noticed on another forum eventually my posts got pretty long, trying to respond fully and correct to everyone, taking to much of my time IMO.


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Shimbabwe
Member (Idle past 3104 days)
Posts: 47
From: Murfreesboro, TN USA
Joined: 09-11-2003


Message 36 of 177 (653826)
02-24-2012 4:48 PM
Reply to: Message 31 by Noetherian Atheist
08-24-2010 8:17 PM


Neotherian Atheist writes:

The point of the KCA, and why it is different from the argument you set forth, is that it deals with the problem of infinite regress by adding a further step to the argument: infinite regress cannot occur in "actuality" (nothing infinite can exist in actuality), and therefore the chain of anitcedant causes must stop.

Hello Neotherian Atheist,

Thank you for the synopsis. A couple of points, however, need clarification. The KCA does not aspire to rule out an actually infinite; or, the argument itself would be self defeating. God is actually infinite according to KCA. A temporal succession of actually infinite events (and a collection of an actually infinite number of things) is what the Kalam argues against.

Neotherian Atheist writes:

Wherever it stops is a "final" (or "first" if you prefer) cause which does not itself have a cause: a good candidate for God. Btw, I think this second step is invalid: IMO it is far from obvious that nothing infinite can exist in actuality, but that's not the point.

.

Here again the argument -- in its current form propounded by William Lane Craig et al. -- does not aspire to rule out mathematical concepts of the actually infinite which may or may not exist in reality. I am curious to know what other examples you have in mind regarding the actually infinite, in spite of your reservations here.

Neotherian Atheist writes:

So, my point was that if the argument is valid & proves the universe has a cause, then it can be turned round and applied to that cause of the universe (why not?) to prove that "Cause 2", a cause of the "cause of the universe", exists, and thence "Cause3" and so ad infinitum.

Not really. As here we come to the point the KCA does indeed aspire to posit; a first uncaused cause, which by definition rules out the necessity of other (causally) prior causes. Consequently, cause 2 etc. are immediately discarded.

Neotherian Atheist writes:

However, if your next step after KCA is to deduce that God exists (he's the creator of the universe), then the existence of an infinite regress of causes does present a problem for the standard Judaeo-Christian-Islamic (and many more, no doubt) definition of God: God has to be uncaused - whereas each cause in the infinite chain established by KCA has an antecedant cause (and so can't be God).

You seem to have misunderstood the argument. An Infinite regress of causes is exactly what the argument rules out. No infinite chain of causes, therefore, exists. This presents no difficulty for proponents whatsoever because, to the contrary, antecedent causes for God are not possible according to Kalaam. You cannot apply the conceptual idea of an actually infinite in the same manner as a potentially infinite -- a potentially infinite is finite in the past but continually moves toward infinity as a limit (I say this for the benefit of others who may not be familiar with this distinction, though I am confident you are.

Neotherian Atheist writes:

You cannot (using this line of reasoing) get from the deduction that the universe has a cause to "God exists" without first ruling out infinite regress. The point of KCA is it does (or attempts to) do this - it deals with the problem of infinite regress without appealing to God's properties.

Agreed. I think the Kalam convinces on this point.

Neotherian Atheist writes:

None of this deals with the second part of my post, which was explains what IMO is the the most serious flaw in the Cosmological Argument, and pretty much all similar arguments (KCA included) - it doesn't matter how you phase the first premise: "exists", or "begins to exist", nor whether the God you infer may be subjected the Argument himself.

On the contrary, the argument stands or falls on the terminology within the proposition. From "exists" one may infer necessary and or eternal existence;"begins to exist" eliminates this possibility.

Neotherian Atheist writes:

No, the argment simply can't be applied to the universe because of premise 2. The universe is not a "thing" in the same sense as the "things" referred to in Premise 1. Here I am making absolutely no assertions concerning God, either for or against, it's about the validity of the argument as it applies to the universe.

Why is the universe not a thing according to premise 1? What assumptions about the universe are you making in order to assert that it is a different kind of thing? I�m curious, as I have not seen this objection before. I usually see the ones like"fallacy of composition" etc. to refute the Kalam.

Neotherian Atheist writes:

On a side note, I think these types of argument are fundamentally unconvincing. In an earlier post, nwr makes an excellent point:

nwr writes:

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.

I don't think a purely logical argument can really either prove or disprove anything about the real world: the theist will invariably argue that God is not subject to the laws of logic (as you did). In fairness, this line of argument must work both ways - could God really be proven by a logical argiment? For that argument to be true, logic would need to apply to God - God would subject to logic, which is not something any theist I know would accept. I think these type of arguments are more like parlour games - the point is to work out what the "trick" is, why they don't really work.

Interesting points, however, I think this would apply to any and all propositional statements; therefore nothing can be said to be true, definitively. Admittedly, I do not feel the force of this objection because it applies to every premise of every logical argument.

As for admitting that God is subject to logic presents no insuperable difficulty for the theist -- as God is wholly logical and this would be a natural outworking of his divine nature -- just as he is subject to good, and justice, and love, and any other concept of ultimate rationale.

Edited by Shimbabwe, : Formatting error


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Shimbabwe
Member (Idle past 3104 days)
Posts: 47
From: Murfreesboro, TN USA
Joined: 09-11-2003


Message 37 of 177 (653831)
02-24-2012 6:45 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Fiver
08-17-2010 4:15 PM


Re: Reply to cavediver and nwr
I have never understood why this argument is used anywhere ever. There are two main flaws that I see.

Fiver writes:

1. If scientists are correct (and I understand that there's some disagreement on this point), then the Big Bang was actually the inception point of time itself. Therefore, assuming that "come into existence" means "goes from a time of non-existence to a time of existence", then the universe never came into existence: it's like asking what is south of the south pole.

Hello Fiver,

Perhaps I can elucidate. My understanding of the theistic model currently propounded by William Lane Craig et al, is that it posits an immaterial, timeless, beginningless, extremely powerful, and personal creator -- an agent who wills to create -- who is causally prior to the universe, but not chronologically prior to it. The being is timeless without the universe and temporal with the creation of the universe. An infinite cause with a finite effect cannot be the result of event/event causation or state/state causation. Therefore it must be personal!

The metaphysical idea of a divine mind is, I think, consonant with big bang cosmology. An immaterial entity, an unembodied mind for example, is not constrained by space and time, and may exist without the universe in an undifferentiated state, perhaps contemporaneously. My personal opinion is that this proposal is as plausible as any multi-verse scenario -- those that accord with Borde, Guth, Vilenkin, at least -- because many worlds hypotheses neither explicate nor avert an absolute beginning. Of course, one may posit quantum fluctuation models or string theory models or oscillating models or any "infinite" model he chooses in an attempt to avoid a beginning. Occam's razor, nevertheless, dictates we not multiply causes unnecessarily.

Because the standard model is heavily supported by evidence, and agreed upon by the majority of scientists, I see no reason to jettison it at this point. Moreover, the idea of a multiverse seems quite superfluous. Why posit a series of parallel universes -- whether these universes coalesce at some future point or not -- in order to explain apparent fine tuning in our known universe? The mechanism which produces the multiverse will ultimately require explanation for its fine tuning; so, we're back to square one. Occam's razor certainly applies here.

With respect to your conclusion, it does not follow from the premises above. An inception (point of time) is coming into existence, by definition. Asking what is south of the south pole has no relevance here, so far as I can see.

Fiver writes:

2. What is more likely is that the KCA means something different by "come into existence" than most people think. In which case, we may suppose that the universe had a cause. It may be an interdimensional bubble, or a fluctuation in dimensions unknown to us, or it may be a god, or aliens, or even the aftermath of a "Big Crunch", but there's nothing to favor the god interpretation over any other.

Come into existence means precisely that from a theistic standpoint; nonexistence -- there is no state of non existence as such, there simply is no existence, no properties etc. -- to existence. Yes, there is a vast chasm between being and non being that is rarely appreciated. Quantam fluctuation models don't begin to appreciate this disparity.

fiver writes:

Help me out here, Creationists... what's the point of this argument?


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 Message 40 by cavediver, posted 02-25-2012 10:10 AM Shimbabwe has replied

  
Dr Adequate
Member (Idle past 285 days)
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 38 of 177 (653844)
02-24-2012 8:27 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Shimbabwe
02-24-2012 6:45 PM


Re: Reply to cavediver and nwr
The being is timeless without the universe and temporal with the creation of the universe. An infinite cause with a finite effect cannot be the result of event/event causation or state/state causation. Therefore it must be personal!

You need some reasoning before the word "therefore".


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cavediver
Member (Idle past 2877 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


(1)
Message 39 of 177 (653893)
02-25-2012 9:52 AM
Reply to: Message 36 by Shimbabwe
02-24-2012 4:48 PM


A temporal succession of actually infinite events (and a collection of an actually infinite number of things) is what the Kalam argues against.

Yes, by taking an erroneous and naive view of time. This is what happens when theologians and philosophers try to discuss theoretical physics. You may like to read my old messages in this thread to understand this point.


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 Message 42 by Shimbabwe, posted 02-25-2012 6:42 PM cavediver has replied

  
cavediver
Member (Idle past 2877 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


(5)
Message 40 of 177 (653896)
02-25-2012 10:10 AM
Reply to: Message 37 by Shimbabwe
02-24-2012 6:45 PM


Re: Reply to cavediver and nwr
My understanding of the theistic model currently propounded by William Lane Craig et al, is that it posits an immaterial, timeless, beginningless, extremely powerful, and personal creator -- an agent who wills to create -- who is causally prior to the universe, but not chronologically prior to it. The being is timeless without the universe and temporal with the creation of the universe. An infinite cause with a finite effect cannot be the result of event/event causation or state/state causation. Therefore it must be personal!

There's a whole lot of words in this paragraph, and 90% of them have virtually no agreed definition. How can you possibly try to advance an argument that supposedly creats a "proof" of something with such nebulous terms?

What is "immaterial"? What is "timeless"? What is "beginningless"? What is "powerful" and how much is "extremely"? What does "personal" mean? Are your definitions unique and universally accepted such that this "proof" can be unambiguously understood?

Basing an argument on such terms does not generate "proof", only obfuscation.

Moreover, the idea of a multiverse seems quite superfluous.

No, it actually seems necessary - that is, a multiverse of one form or another is implicated in many post-Standard Model ideas.

Why posit a series of parallel universes... ...in order to explain apparent fine tuning in our known universe?

For one, because we already have an excellent example of parallel worlds creating the appearance of fine-tuning. The Earth's "extraordinary" biosphere has long been touted by theists as blatent fine-tuning evidence of a divine hand. However, it is quite clear that the fine-tuning that gives rise to the Earth's remarkable qualities is simply the anthropic selection effect on a large number of worlds throughout the Universe, each taking a point in the vast parameter-space of possible qualities.

Asking what is south of the south pole has no relevance here, so far as I can see.

You are correct - you cannot see the relevance. But that does not negate the relevance.

Yes, there is a vast chasm between being and non being that is rarely appreciated. Quantam fluctuation models don't begin to appreciate this disparity.

This I can agree with, but I would stress that you have no good definition of your term "non being".


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Shimbabwe
Member (Idle past 3104 days)
Posts: 47
From: Murfreesboro, TN USA
Joined: 09-11-2003


Message 41 of 177 (653976)
02-25-2012 5:58 PM
Reply to: Message 38 by Dr Adequate
02-24-2012 8:27 PM


Re: Reply to cavediver and nwr
Dr Adequate writes:

You need some reasoning before the word "therefore".

Hello Dr. Adequate,

Thank you for your response. I was merely presenting an outline for the argument as proposed by Dr. Craig et al. The theist in this context would, nevertheless, assert that there are three primary types of causation, state, event, or agent—some would argue only two. By default agent causation is the only viable candidate for the theist because the other alternatives would necessarily introduce an infinite regress of events or an eternal universe, both of which are untenable according to the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Moreover, the only other entities (I am aware of) that qualify as beginningless, timeless, and immaterial, are numbers or abstract objects. These entities, however, are believed to be causally effete, e.g. numbers don’t stand in causal relationships.


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 Message 47 by Dr Adequate, posted 02-26-2012 7:18 PM Shimbabwe has replied

  
Shimbabwe
Member (Idle past 3104 days)
Posts: 47
From: Murfreesboro, TN USA
Joined: 09-11-2003


Message 42 of 177 (653983)
02-25-2012 6:42 PM
Reply to: Message 39 by cavediver
02-25-2012 9:52 AM


Philosophy of Time
cavediver writes:

Yes, by taking an erroneous and naive view of time. This is what happens when theologians and philosophers try to discuss theoretical physics. You may like to read my old messages in this thread to understand this point.

Hello cavediver,

I am happy you have responded, as I anticipated a response from one who argues against the tensed view of time. I am quite familiar with other conceptual views; so, it won't be necessary here to exploit my naiveté. Moreover, your response is not a valid critique of the Kalam Argument, as such. If the tensed view of time is correct, then temporal becoming is implicit in relation to matter within the universe. My assumption is that you disagree with this point. Therefore, I will respond more thoroughly in a few hours, or perhaps tomorrow. I am just home from work and haven't had my daily dose of spiritual vitamins...

Regards,
Shimbabwe


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cavediver
Member (Idle past 2877 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 43 of 177 (653984)
02-25-2012 6:58 PM
Reply to: Message 42 by Shimbabwe
02-25-2012 6:42 PM


Re: Philosophy of Time
as I anticipated a response from one who argues against the tensed view of time.

Just a quick note whilst awaiting your larger response - I don't argue against the tensed view of time. I argue against those that use the terms "tensed" and "untensed" views of time, whether they themselves fall into A-theorists or B-theorists. Neither tend to have the first clue about the real nature of time


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Shimbabwe
Member (Idle past 3104 days)
Posts: 47
From: Murfreesboro, TN USA
Joined: 09-11-2003


Message 44 of 177 (653986)
02-25-2012 7:18 PM
Reply to: Message 43 by cavediver
02-25-2012 6:58 PM


Re: Philosophy of Time
cavediver writes:

Just a quick note whilst awaiting your larger response - I don't argue against the tensed view of time. I argue against those that use the terms "tensed" and "untensed" views of time, whether they themselves fall into A-theorists or B-theorists. Neither tend to have the first clue about the real nature of time

Very well then. I hope our discussion proves fruitful. I'm quite happy to utilize whatever terms work for you. On philosophy of time, one is certainly not limited to these alternatives. Nevertheless, we may limit our discussion to those prevailing theories if you wish.


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kbertsche
Member (Idle past 1365 days)
Posts: 1427
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 05-10-2007


Message 45 of 177 (653989)
02-25-2012 7:41 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by nwr
08-17-2010 2:49 PM


Re: Reply to cavediver and nwr
quote:
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.

Not so; you are making the same logical error as Victor Stegner. Each decay event has a clear cause: the nucleus is inherently unstable, and it decays according to the laws of quantum mechanics. Randomness does not preclude causation.

"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." – Albert Einstein

“I am very astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is very deficient. It gives us a lot of factual information, puts all of our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously.” – Erwin Schroedinger


This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by nwr, posted 08-17-2010 2:49 PM nwr has seen this message

  
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