Claims that the Big Bang could have caused itself, or that it needed no cause, are nothing more than "special pleading". There are no other examples of things which are either uncaused or self-caused (in the philosophical sense of causation).
One might claim that a cause "outside of time itself" is also an instance of special pleading. But I don't believe this holds up. Traditional conceptions of God place Him outside of time (and space) and attribute numerous instances of Him acting in time and space from outside of it. It is not only the Big Bang as a special case, but also the incarnation, the eschaton, etc. where God breaks into time and space from outside of it.
But God himself remains a special case --- the Uncaused Cause, the Unmoved Mover.
It is possible to imagine an atemporal cause. For example, image a universe which has existed for all time with the following constituents:
* a planet, on which sits * a yielding yet resilient cushion, on which sits * a bowling ball.
Now, without any sequence of events taking place, we would nonetheless like to say that:
* The bowling ball (and the gravity of the planet) are the cause of the depression in the cushion. * The cushion is the cause of the bowling ball being elevated above the surface of the planet.
This is a rather contrived example, but then it has to be.
Now, can we analyze this causation as a logical relationship? Well, we can try. After all, clearly if the bowling ball wasn't there, the cushion wouldn't be depressed, and if the cushion wasn't there, the bowling ball wouldn't be elevated.
So the relationship in general would be: x causes y = not(x) implies not(y). E.g:
* No bowling ball implies no depression. * No cushion implies no elevation.
And so for God to atemporally cause the universe would just be equivalent to saying that no God would imply no universe.
But there's a snag. Indeed, several snags.
Consider this causal relationship: I drop a brick, causing it to fall. Now this is fine and dandy so far --- not(I drop the brick) implies not (the brick falls).
But it is also the case that not(the brick falls) implies not(I drop the brick). Our account of cause has become so atemporal that we now have to say, not just that my dropping the brick causes it to fall, but also that the brick falling causes me to drop it.
We may note in this connection that some people have suggested that the nature of God is such that he would necessarily cause the universe. In which case not(the universe) would imply not(God). Now if these people are right, then in our "logical" account of cause and effect, it would be correct to say that the universe is the cause of God. And the mere possibility that they are right is sufficient to say that we have a reductio ad absurdum since if God would necessarily cause the universe, we would not wish to represent that fact by saying that the universe is the cause of God.
We might finally note that according to the logical interpretation of implication, not(I own a hat) implies not(unicorns exist), since both sides of the implication are true. And yet it is not true to say that my owning a hat causes the existence of unicorns, nor that even that it would cause the existence of unicorns if I did in fact own a hat. We might try to remedy this situation by observing that not(not(I own a hat)) also implies not(unicorns exist), but this is a thought I shall look at tomorrow, because I am sleepy.
So it seems at least that simple propositional logic is a broken reed for the purpose of giving an account of causality. What kbertsche actually has in mind is of course for him to say.
I shall go back to thinking about epistemology, which is easy.
Even if we assume that the cushion could react instantaneously to the presence of the bowling ball (which a real cushion could not) and we are as generous to the proponents of the kalam argument as intellectual honesty allows, we are still left with no reason to say that the depression was actually created by the bowling ball. That requires distinguishing between the case where the ball did create the depression and the case where the depression existed all along (in the terminology kbertsche probably prefers, the case where the bowling ball is logically prior to the depression and the case where it is)
Well, the cushion is resilient. If the bowling ball wasn't there, the cushion wouldn't be depressed, it would spring back into shape. Therefore I think it's reasonable to say that the depression is caused by the ball.
This is strengthened by the fact that we thoroughly understand the nature of the causal relationship: we know about gravity, we could draw a force diagram. Of course, we know about this by our experience of non-static events ... if we were ideal observers only of this toy universe, we should never have found out the causal relationship, but it would still exist.
Some might say that you are committing the logical fallacy of the appeal to authority with "smacks of divine intervention" in quotation marks obviously referning to Hawking, again.
Well, it's worse than that, since Hawking was describing the views of people other than himself. It's as though you said "Dr Adequate thinks there is no God", and someone quoted you as saying "There is no God". Which you did ... just after the words "Dr Adequate thinks".
It's not just an appeal to authority, it's deeply dishonest, since Hawking himself thinks the exact opposite of the view designtheorist wishes to ascribe to him.
Yes, but that is a sustaining cause, maintaining the depression, rather than a creative cause bringing the depression into existence. And given a real cushion creating the depression would require time, which is not available. The argument I am dealing with clearly requires a creative cause (and it is an argument for a creative cause). Thus, a sustaining cause is not relevant (and would require a different argument).
Well, it does all that I required of it: it's something that we would wish to call a cause without a sequence where cause precedes effect.
It's not exactly like God sitting outside time and creating the universe, but then what is?
Ah, but in designtheorist's imaginary alternative universe Hawking also denies that the Big Bang happened. You see, his delusional world all fits together with perfect consistency, and is also bollocks.
At the time he wrote the passage I quoted, Hawking did not dispute the fact the big bang "smacks of divine intervention." In fact, it was this fact that cause Hawking to go searching for another explanation for the beginning of the universe. Only in his most recent book has Hawking said a creator is not needed.
As you can see, the argument is not logically consistent.
You have not explained the specific relevance of your ability to produce illogical arguments. We know you can ---indeed, we've hardly ever seen you do anything else. Is there any reason why you wished to do so on this particular occasion, or are you just keeping in practice?
Ideas have influence over reality only because people who hold those ideas in their heads act on those ideas. People are motivated to act based on lots of things such as fear, anger, love, and faith, none of which are physical.
But they all have a physical basis, do they not? Which I think is what Jon means.
In fact people are motivated to act by things that do not even exist.
The ideas exist, the things they have ideas about may not.
I accept that thoughts have a physical basis. But ideas do not and they are not a form of thought. Four is an idea. You are capable of thinking about the number four and of communicating the idea to others. But four itself is an immaterial concept.
But the idea only exists because some particular people have the thought.
When someone has an unexamined/implicit argument, one has to make it explicit so it can be examined. This is the way logic is done. The fact the argument is incoherent is not of my doing. I'm simply making the argument explicit so PaulK can have a chance to modify it or reject it.
Put plainly: you are making up some nonsense, attributing it to PaulK, and then criticizing your nonsense as though it was his.