Couldn't we say that the "cause" of these virtual particles is the nature of the vacuum and the nature of quantum mechanics? If so, they DO have a cause.
Sure, we could say that. And we could say that the cause of the universe is the nature of nothingness. It's just another way of saying you don't know the cause.
Causation means one event causes another event. One billiard ball striking another billiard ball causes it to move. Phenomena like the Casimir effect, virtual particles and radioactive decay have no cause. Some things have a cause, some things don't.
Perhaps, but we need to be careful how we define both "causation" and "event". If you define "event" broadly enough to include a "state of being", I would agree.
I'm not using any specialized terminology or trying to draw fine distinctions. I hope I'm just using the everyday meaning of words.
Using the wording from the opening post, Premise 2 of Syllogism 2, the Kalam Cosmological Argument assumes that "Everything that happens/starts has a cause." This isn't the only way to state this premise. Wikipedia gives both a classical formulation ("Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence") and a contemporary ("Whatever begins to exist must have an external cause").
People intuit this premise from observation, for example, of a pea plant or a volcano or a house being created. But all these observations are only of existing matter being reshaped and reorganized. No matter is actually being brought into existence. It's just existing matter being reconfigured. Nothing is actually being poofed into existence.
To elaborate, no one says, or at least no biologist says, that a pea plant is created because of the nature of seeds, earth and water. Biologists know to a fairly good level of detail the chain of cause and effect events that give rise to a pea pod.
And no one says, or at least no geologist says, that a volcano arises because of the nature of planets. Geologists know to a fairly good level of detail the chain of cause and effect events that give rise to a volcano.
And no one says, or at least no homebuilder says, that a house arises because of the nature of lumber and nails. Homebuilders know to an excellent level of detail the precise chain of cause and effect events that give rise to a house.
You cannot begin with examples of creation that come about through the mere movement of matter around into different shapes and combinations to extrapolate to the creation of matter itself in the form of atomic particles. There is no proximal cause of atomic decay that we know of. Saying that it is the nature of some atomic nuclei to decay is just another way of saying you don't know why a particular atomic nuclei decayed when it did. The Contemporary form of the Kalam argument uses the term "external cause", and there is certainly no "external cause" for atomic decay.
The same is true of virtual particles. Saying they are caused by the nature of space/time is a non-answer, and there is certainly no "external cause."
Even if one grants that virtual particles move about indeterminately without a cause, or that radioactive decay occurs without a cause—I’m not saying they do—neither of these “facts” constitutes a defeater of the first premiss of Kalam.
Isn't the first premise of Kalam, "Whatever begins to exist must have an external cause?" So wouldn't virtual particles or radioactive decay having no cause contradict the first premise of Kalam?
The thread's originator is the one who kept titling his messages "Reply to So-and-so", and my recollection is that when it was explained that the board does this for you he responded that he did this at other boards and was going to continue doing it. He's gone now, so if we start using normal message titles it shouldn't be a problem anymore.