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The Kalam Cosmological Argument - Comments

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 1 by Richard Dawkins

You left out Step 4: "Therefore Jesus died for our sins and regularly turns into a wafer."

Richard

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 07:33:53 UTC | #507758

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 2 by bendigeidfran

Premise 1 and 2 are unproven, but you're right! It is intuitive! And it's Dr Dr btw - WLCs got two! and sells umbrellas.

I interviewed him once http://richardemmanueljones.blogspot.com/2010_02_01_archive.html - if larks are still allowed.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 07:47:32 UTC | #507764

Ranting Socrates's Avatar Comment 3 by Ranting Socrates

Mr. Hitchens in his usual fashion would say, and has said, that this would only do if you’re trying to prove that a god exists, you still have a marathon of work in proving that a personal, intervening, hell threatening, and heaven promising god exists, who sent his only son through a virgin birth in the world in order to die for the sins of mankind.

You said something worth quoting:

‘’It certainly is one of the better known theistic argument for the existence of God.’’

This sir is not a theistic argument because it does not prove the main premise of theism (which can be located above and I am only using the Christian version for times sake). This leans on the side of a deist argument.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 07:53:52 UTC | #507765

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 4 by bendigeidfran

Comment 3 by Ranting Socrates

But fails there too. Premise 1 doesn't even hold within spacetime. He is funny though - and slick - you can watch him against Atkins say on youtube etc. But he does know he's lying.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 08:02:55 UTC | #507767

MarkyMark81's Avatar Comment 5 by MarkyMark81

hehe... Dawkins comment above reminded me of George Carlin (its a compliment)

Anyway, Í agree with Ranting Socrates above... but I would go one step further.

Why is the "cause" in premise 3 assumed to be a God?

It could be any number of things?

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 08:08:29 UTC | #507769

mirandaceleste's Avatar Comment 6 by mirandaceleste

Why, pray tell, do you think that this deserves a reasoned response?

And people who torture and abuse logic in this way often have one thing in common: they (most likely intentionally) fail to distinguish between the validity of and the truth of a syllogism. They're very different things.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 08:11:26 UTC | #507771

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 7 by bendigeidfran

Premise one is unprovable. And that's his bestest premise. Unless he really has seen everything. I've seen a house-fly....and a horse-fly....but I think WLC done be talking horse-shit when he says he done seen 'bout everything.

Updated: Mon, 30 Aug 2010 08:18:14 UTC | #507773

theEarththeEggTheApple, (three noughts, no crosses).'s Avatar Comment 8 by theEarththeEggTheApple, (three noughts, no crosses).

I think that the idea of a creator for our universe is shared by all, but the identity of the "designer", agreed with by few, From my own perspective, we have, scientifically, wasted an awful lot of time and undiscovered brainpower, whilst we were being "encouraged" to ignore our questioning, rational mind and believe in the religious path for twenty centuries. At this point in our evolution, it will become clear in just how much valuable time we have wasted, with the imminent challenges we now face on this planet, that possibly, could have been understood or challenged by scientific method, rather than talking to our thumbs. Doves, storks, voices from clouds......My head is in my hands.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 08:17:26 UTC | #507775

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 9 by DavidMcC

"Thermodynamics (we are not in a state of "heat death," if the universe were eternal we would be), Big Bang cosmology etc."

The above only works against some cosmologies, not others. For example, quantum loop gravity provides a zero energy density, presumably eternal, continuum that supports the space we exist in and are aware of. This does not need to have a total net energy density, because of gravity. Thus the heat death argument fails against it.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 08:18:40 UTC | #507776

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 10 by DavidMcC

"Thermodynamics (we are not in a state of "heat death," if the universe were eternal we would be), Big Bang cosmology etc."

The above only works against some cosmologies, not others. For example, quantum loop gravity provides a zero energy density, presumably eternal, continuum that supports the space we exist in and are aware of. This does not need to have a total net energy density, because of gravity. Thus the heat death argument fails against it.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 08:19:27 UTC | #507778

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 11 by bendigeidfran

Comment 8 by theEarththeEggTheApple

Well you think wrong then. Don't think wrong without a good reason.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 08:24:05 UTC | #507779

epeeist's Avatar Comment 12 by epeeist

Premise 1 was effectively torn to shreds a couple of centuries ago by David Hume. How do we know that whatever begins has to have a cause? This is simply a piece of inductive reasoning and as Hume points out we cannot extrapolate from cases that we have observed to cases that we have not. It also falls into his argument against design, we have observed only a small part of the universe for a limited period of time. How can we be sure that what we have so far observed is typical of the observations we have not made?

Premise 2 - really, would cosmologists actually agree with this? We know the universe was in existence after the Planck epoch but that is the best we can currently say. Again, Craig has no epistemic privilege to allow him to categorically say that the universe began to exist.

And thus the conclusion fails, this is simply not a sound argument.

EDIT: And as others have said, even if the argument is sound then all it gets you is a creator of the universe. Which could be super-intelligent aliens, a deist god, Cthulu (it is always Cthulu) or any number of other hypotheses. Quine's thesis applies with a vengeance, we have a universe of data, all our hypotheses are under-determined.

Updated: Mon, 30 Aug 2010 08:28:27 UTC | #507781

pfrankinstein's Avatar Comment 13 by pfrankinstein

You left out Step 4: "Therefore Jesus died for our sins and regularly turns into a wafer." Richard.

As it is in the 'big' as it is in the 'small'.

On Earth as it is in heaven train of thought.

Yes, you can deny that Jesus literally walked the face of this Earth, but you can not deny that atheists crucify Christ today for mankind's sins.

Literal truth, metaphorical truth?

Paul.

Updated: Mon, 30 Aug 2010 08:34:25 UTC | #507782

tommcc's Avatar Comment 14 by tommcc

Is it me, or has Professor Dawkins been posting more than usual lately? This is great of course, and he gets to be first to post here as well. Although I haven't seen my copy of TGD for a couple of years, I seem to recall this 'profound argument' being more than dealt with. Although I still think Thor did it

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 08:35:30 UTC | #507785

epeeist's Avatar Comment 15 by epeeist

Comment 13 by pfrankinstein :

Literal truth, metaphorical truth?

Word salad, to quote Tom Lehrer on Gilbert and Sullivan "a lot of words and music signifying nothing".

Given the choice between your posts and the post-modern generator I think the latter makes more sense.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 08:54:12 UTC | #507794

Baruch_S's Avatar Comment 16 by Baruch_S

"Whatever BEGINS to exist has a cause" ?? And this is a premise that 'should not be debated'?

There is no cause to the beginning of the universe. No intelligent mind. No goal, and no god.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 08:54:34 UTC | #507795

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 17 by AtheistEgbert

Premise 1 is a tweaked version of "Everything requires a cause" to fix the obvious logical flaw that therefore a God would require a cause. Also, as others have stated, this premise is unproven or begging the question that there must be a creator (or at least a cause) of the universe.

Another problem is that causality applies to motion in an existing universe, so why would we apply causality to existence? Why apply the concept of causality of the universe to outside of the universe? Clearly, this is an assumption that causality is not only universal but meta-universal or metaphysical, and again, there is no such evidence for such metaphysics. In fact, there is scientific evidence to suggest that at quantum levels, causality breaks down, and there is also evidence of randomness in atomic motion (Brownian Motion) and in atomic decay. Thus, this is why metaphysics is no longer taken seriously by empiricists or science.

Clearly we all assume that existence is eternal, whether you're a believer or unbeliever, no atheist ever stated that "something comes from nothing." But this is only an assumption, there is no evidence either way and so there is nothing wrong with saying "I don't know" to the problem of what existed before our universe.

One last thing: religion has attempted to hijack rationality to prove itself, but pays no attention to such refutations. Instead, it uses such arguments above as apologetics to try and persuade those who already believe or doubters that God is rational. We should no longer take believers seriously in rational debates. They use rhetoric and apologetics and are not interested in truth.

Updated: Mon, 30 Aug 2010 09:19:19 UTC | #507803

Rich Wiltshir's Avatar Comment 18 by Rich Wiltshir

1/ "whatever begins has a cause" - hogwash! To rehash a comment (conjecture) I've placed elsewhere on RDFRS; there's 'probably nothing' describes the great voids (inter planetary, stellar, galactic, cluster...) in which quantum theory exposes the significance of 'probable' because matter and antimatter come into existence and mutually annihilate spontaneously (with the Hawking radiation exception theorised that evaporates black holes). There's no 'cause' in this; it's 'simply' probabilistic; and therefore open to extrapolation conjectures that (reasonably in my mind) could hint toward this universe's beginning.

2/ "The universe began to exist" - as far as I'm aware science has confirmed the existence of an extremely young universe, but NOT its actual beginning. I accept that continuing this line of thought undermines my diatribe for "1/", but that's one of the beauties in life and reason, isn't it? Evidence suggesting that at least one of these is wrong.

3/ "Therefore the universe has a cause" - hogwash again. Making a string of forceful premises is a frequent religoon tactic that seeks to impose acceptance of the initial claims by drawing discussion toward the conclusions.

Craig's formulation is a construction, I suspect, to quieten debate that he dislikes OR to appear clever for students and dinner parties. This guy's CV shows a degree in communications followed by 36 years (so far) in religoon focused institutions. With the qualifications and experience, you'd imagine he'd construct a more substantial argument, wouldn't you? But, given the many centuries that religoon has had to show evidence or build reasoned support for their claims, I suppose he's just following the flock.

The formulation is a Gish Gallop; rhetoric to dilute reason from a discussion instead of expanding knowledge and understanding for those in conversation or, indeed, the audience.

Of course, I could be wrong again!

William Lane Craig's CV

Gish Gallop

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 09:59:35 UTC | #507815

epeeist's Avatar Comment 19 by epeeist

Comment 18 by Rich Wiltshir :

William Lane Craig's CV

Did you really mean this to point to nowhere? However here is a question, could Lane Craig get a job at anything but a private evangelical "university"?

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 10:28:53 UTC | #507826

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 20 by Jos Gibbons

This is going to be a very long post. Why? Because I want to expose ALL the flaws in the Kalam Cosmological Argument, not just a couple. That this post is so long shows you how many errors it manages to squeeze in. The error density per word is actually quite impressive. In short, it’s just a list of questionable assertions, whose “support” is even more questionable assertions, until we finally end up with provably false assertions. As we shall see, the Kalam Cosmological Argument has a long ancestry of gradually modified arguments behind it. But while the intent of all this was to make the case seem more convincing – indeed, the alleged intent is to make it a genuinely better case – there is actually far more to object to than in the simplest versions of the cosmological argument.

Since as far as I can tell Czar Bernstein is not an advocate of this nonsense I have avoided using the word “you” in my critique of the argument, as were I to do so it would be unclear which person was the target of my criticism. But William Lane Craig is definitely a crackpot. Anyone who wants to see how many holes there are in his ideas – in short, far, far more than even this long post demonstrates (as it deals with only 1 of his arguments), although his arguments all have roughly the same error density – should search YouTube for “William Lane Craig is Not”, as YouTubers are challenged to make videos demonstrating he is not some specific expert type, e.g. not a historian. (William Lane Craig is Not a Batman Historian is especially funny because it parodies his arguments for the historicity of the resurrection to show just how silly it really is

Oh, one more thing: usually, by theism I mean theism or deism. (They so need a collective name.)

  1. Whatever BEGINS to exist has a cause

Why postulate this rule? There’s no good reason to, as will become clear when I debunk the defence given of it below. Let’s be honest about the REAL reason anyone uses this premise. Here’s how the cosmological argument started life:

Theist: Everything has a cause, so that includes the universe. Its cause is God. Ta–da! Skeptic: If that’s what you insist on calling it (not that you’ve proven it has any attributes we associate with that term), but knowing the universe has a cause – if your argument really does achieve that – seems pretty useless. We’re no better off than we were before. After all, what caused “God”, as you insist on calling it? Theist: Oh no, God has no cause.

Skeptic: But, you just said everything has a cause. You have tried to prove the existence of something with a premise allegedly applying to everything – the logic of the universe, you might call it – and in order to convince me the argument has any merit you have to then say that this one thing is the exception to the logic of the universe, a pretty big claim to swallow, as you’re trying to convince me it exists at all. See how unconvincing that is? That you are using premises to prop up a conclusion which contradicts those premises?

Theist: Look, I meant everything other than God has a cause.

Skeptic: But if you reference the as yet unproven thing in the first line of your argument, you’re just assuming your conclusion at the start.

Theist: OK, only one thing doesn’t have a cause, if you insist on me not naming it yet. I can name it at the end.

Skeptic: Yes, but even if the number of things without cause is exactly one – which seems a pretty arbitrary, unevidenced premise if you ask me – why not make the exception something we actually know exists, like the universe?

(Theist sulks)

After a while, the theist comes up with the idea of making up a rule of the form “Everything with property X has a cause” such that he can (he hopes) plausibly argue everything we know of has property X, but which he can later say the cause of those things – which he’ll call God – doesn’t have property X. Of course, why this invisible unknowable thing should manage to have such uniqueness when nothing else manages it is never explained. As before, it’s a case of trying to avoid a conclusion’s contradicting its supporting premises by saying this thing is the exception to the logic of the universe, a pretty big claim to swallow, in trying to convince us it exists at all. And, as I shall show when we discuss the later defence offered for that premise, not only do those efforts at supporting premise 1 fail, but we actually do have good reasons for thinking premise 1 is false. I will not spoil the surprise too much, but it is called evidence, something which arguments trying to prove the existence of an invisible being can never use.

  1. The universe began to exist

Why assume that? It’s blatantly just being done to complete the syllogism, unless anything can be offered to back it up. As I shall show, the efforts there fail too.

Brief theistic support

This line is arguably the most ominous one in the entire piece, as it reveals something rather disturbing. The argument is first introduced as a syllogism: if you accept the two premises, you accept the conclusion of that syllogism, which – rather than being deistic or theistic – is simply the universe being caused. But, apparently, this 2–premise, 1–conclusion structure is not the whole story. From this point onwards, nothing that is said is given a rigorous logical structure as the chosen format for the argument. If the argument really does work, it should be possible to rewrite it using nothing but nested syllogisms, with all the inflexibility that that rightly entails. The Kalam cosmological argument is centuries old, and has gradually evolved and gained more so–called “support” from a selective treatment of modern physics (which, in continuing the effort to “improve” the original cosmological argument which the imaginary conversation above shows happened several times before the Kalam version arose, reveals a belief in a god to be all about flogging a dead horse, endlessly rewriting a bad argument in a hope it will eventually work), all of which is decades old (yet nonetheless sometimes still out of date, which gives you an idea how much more progressive is science than religion). That all the claims on which the argument relies turn out to have been around for a while, as does the argument using them, means there has been plenty of time to give the whole piece the same formal layout treatment the syllogism above uses. This has not been done, since there is no way to make it work; there are just too many holes, as we shall see. So the purpose of that syllogism is in fact not an honest effort to find truth, but to make the case seem deceptively straightforward – when, in fact, there’s much more to it than meets the stupid, uncritical eye.

Premise one seems intuitively obvious.

In other words, there’s no evidence to cite for it at all, but “common sense” demands it. That is the basis for thinking the Earth is Flat, to mention just one of myriad examples. If I could choose one word to describe the truths found by science, it would be “counter–intuitive”.

The alternative is that something can come from nothing, which is contradicted in our everyday experience.

Lots of truths are contrary to our everyday experience. That is literally the point of science. As I shall show, premise 1 is provably wrong, but the proof relies on evidence found in real science rather than in everyday experience.

Should be no real debater on this premise.

What there shouldn’t be is anyone defending it these days. You want an example of uncaused entities which begin existing? Virtual particles in a vacuum. The only explanation we have of them is quantum theory, which precludes their having a cause. Yet we know that explanation is correct because it is just about the best supported idea in the history of science, by evidence including its accurate predictions of detectable consequences of the existence of these virtual particles, such as the Casimir effect.

Premise two is supported by both philosophical and scientific evidence and argument. -Philosophical: if the universe never began to exist, that means the number of past events is actually infinite. But an actual infinite cannot exist in reality.

There is literally no reason for thinking that. None at all. It’s just something philosophers say, and not all philosophers, and the only reason it’s ever said is as a premise in arguments for the existence of a god. That alone is proof that deism/theism is a dead enterprise. The idea of an infinite past is sometimes critiqued by saying it would take an infinite amount of time to get from the start to now. Kant irrevocably destroyed this objection when he observed that an infinitely old world is one which never began, not one which began an infinite amount of time ago. And if people still insist on saying there’s an actual infinity, let them answer this: the same laws of nature which they insist on citing to pretend they’re telling the truth also tell us that, since the expansion of the universe is now known to be accelerating, the universe will never end, so will exist for an infinite amount of time. Why do these people think t cannot have arbitrarily low values when they should know it can have arbitrarily high values? Do they expect us to believe the time line is able to take the form of what mathematicians call a half–line, while its instead simply being a line (extended infinitely in both directions rather than one; that which is finite in both directions, such as the side of a square, is a line segment) is a non–starter? That a line makes as much sense as does a half–line is a truth going back to Euclid. And anyone who claims reality cannot actually contain something, even though logic does not preclude it, clearly doesn’t know what “logically possible world” means.

Hubble's discovery of cosmic expansion, Second Law of Thermodynamics (we are not in a state of "heat death," if the universe were eternal we would be), Big Bang cosmology etc.

So the Big Bang happened a finite amount of time ago. Big deal. I hate to break it to you, but there’s no reason there couldn’t have been infinitely many Big Bangs and Big Crunches before the Big Bang of which we know. Interestingly, we have good reasons to think the Big Bang would erase all physical information prior to itself, and therefore empirical evidence should be mute on whether or not the Big Bang was the true beginning. I will discuss this in more detail later in this section, as all the points you put together are intimately related, but the various things which need to be said are best put in a leapfrogging order.

The first thing to notice about a heat death is that it does not occur due to high entropy – which the universe has – but high entropy relative to the amount of space it has to fill. The maximum entropy a sphere radius R can contain is proportional to R squared (not R cubed, irritatingly, which is why I had to say “relative to the amount of space it has to fill” rather than “density”; oh, and the reason I am typing squared and cubed is because this website can’t even display the shift 6 symbol for exponentiation, let alone show upper indices – get it fixed). Our universe has expanded far too rapidly for the “relative entropy” (entropy as a proportion of the maximum allowed in a space that size) to grow; it has indeed shrunk.

Now because the Big Bang started from a very small amount of space it couldn’t have had very much entropy – and, as entropy and information are intimately related, this also tells us there wasn’t very much information fed into the Big Bang, so nothing even as complex as a bacterium, let alone a deity, need be posited as the source of that information – although it might have had a high relative entropy. Indeed, a relative entropy of 1 (the maximum) is quite plausible given what we know about theoretical physics, and it is this possibility which would erase any evidence of a prior history and is what is meant by a heat death. Notice expansion serves to take a universe in this state out of it, which is why we are not at relative entropy 1 now, even though we may have been during the Big Bang.

A rather subtle point may have occurred to you. If time is infinitely old (which, since premise 1 is wrong, does not need to be assumed to avoid concluding the universe has a cause, divine or otherwise, but let’s critique premise 2 all we can anyway, as we have above), and there have been Big Bang and Big Crunch cycles but the latest Big Bang happened only finitely long ago, wouldn’t the total entropy just prior to the latest Big Bang be extremely high (even infinite, perhaps), so the universe couldn’t squeeze down to the small size it had at the time of the Big Bang, as such large amounts of entropy wouldn’t fit on the Planck scale? This would indeed be so, if entropy really cannot reduce under any circumstances, as a strict reading of the Second Law of Thermodynamics would suggest. If a universe undergoes a Big Crunch, this fact follows from the Friedmann equation et al, and entropy seems to be unable to stop this, if you again take the Friedmann equation strictly. The Friedmann equation considers only gravity to matter; if entropy really can oppose a Big Crunch, it would do so through an outward entropic pressure, which would need taking into account in addition to gravity. But the option theoretical physics finds most viable is that Big Crunches can reduce the entropy of the universe, which may sound like a cop–out but you must bear in mind the Second Law of Thermodynamics is a theorem of low–energy (if you will, classical) physics axioms we know we must change in the future as we develop a quantum theory of gravity, rather than an axiom in its own right we cannot escape in any physical theory.

You may be thinking the matter of premise 2 is not quite so clear as is that of premise 1. But it is worth bearing in mind just how much greater knowledge about physics the argument’s framer is claiming than the greatest physics minds in the world today. And it is an old and not a recent argument, which only worsens the insult. Religious people often praise themselves for their alleged humility, whilst they claim cosmological knowledge even the most arrogant atheistic scientists do not. This is a good sign of what is wrong with religious beliefs.

From which it follows that the universe has a cause. The cause of space and time, must exist outside of space, time and matter (God or not) because these things only came into being after the Big Bang.

What about other space–times? M–theory posits an eternal 11–dimensional universe in which Big Bangs creating universes with fewer dimensions occur due to collisions between what are called p–branes. And unlike the prescientific, dogmatic and often refuted claims made in the Kalam Cosmological Argument, M–theory is posited not simply to explain one thing, but as numerous lines in theoretical physics seem to lead to it better than they do anything else. It is still far from demonstrated that string theories are the only game in town, but they have far more going for them than religious apologetics, because they at least make a sincere effort to engage with every current problem we have in consistently uniting everything we think we know about the universe.

Thus, the cause must be transcendent and immaterial and powerful.

What does transcendent mean? Not in spacetime? Where is it then? If theists are right, apparently it is in “Heaven” (wherever that is). What does immaterial mean? The immaterial does NOT have a mass, temperature, Young’s modulus etc. – what DOES it have? If theists are right, apparently it has an obsession with petty human squabbles. What does powerful mean? Able to make a universe? What else does that tell us? If theists are right, apparently that intercessory prayer exists. It is clear there is precious little correlation between what the premises of this argument really demand and what theists want to pretend they have any good reason to believe.

There are two things that fit this description: abstract things or intelligent minds.

Why can’t there be another option we haven’t thought of? This is the argument from personal incredulity, plain and simple. And it is no good talking of inferences to the best explanation, even if it is conceded we are adopting the best explanation we can think of but know there may be others. Not only does this preserve the role of the argument from personal incredulity, but it also adds another fallacy. What if none of the explanations are very good? Explaining a complex universe by positing a designer, who must therefore be more complex still, without offering an explanation for it – or even, as theists do, explicitly claiming there is none – is not a good explanation, whether or not it is the best, or joint best. Surely, if one lacks any good explanations, one shouldn’t believe any of them. This is how science proceeds. The trouble with arguments for the existence of a god is that, time and time again (and the Kalam one has done this many times), they display a mentality which doesn’t even acknowledge any of the findings or methods of science, so the discussion may as well be taking place in the Bronze Age.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 10:39:04 UTC | #507832

pfrankinstein's Avatar Comment 21 by pfrankinstein

epeeist. Given the choice between your posts and the post-modern generator I think the latter makes more sense.

One can have a valid multi perspective of the same subject, Darwins naturalist perspective and the view under the microscope are a testament to the fact. Hence literal truth metaphorical truth.

It would seem that your take on reality is so narrowly grounded that anything i post requires a in-depth explanation.

Two ways to go epeeist, you can pull down the shutters and cry word salad, or you could try thinking for yourself.

Paul.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 10:44:37 UTC | #507834

TheRationalizer's Avatar Comment 22 by TheRationalizer

My simple rebuttal to this claim is as follows...

All we know is that the universe started to exist in its current form, we do not know for a fact that it didn't exist before many times in many different forms, nor that it didn't come from somewhere else.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 10:57:52 UTC | #507841

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 23 by Steve Zara

Now because the Big Bang started from a very small amount of space it couldn’t have had very much entropy – and, as entropy and information are intimately related, this also tells us there wasn’t very much information fed into the Big Bang,

I'm afraid that this is a bit misleading. The information density of the original state of the universe may not have been high, but that does not mean that the original state might not have been a very, very unlikely one. (The information density of 1000 coin tosses that all come up heads is very low) Indeed, calculations by some cosmpologists of the initial state that was needed to kick off inflation suggest an extremely low entropy indeed. This does not leave space for a creator, which would be even lower entropy, but that initial state still needs some explanation.

The argument can be dealt with very simply, as Epeeist pointed out. All we can say is that the universe existed after the Planck epoch. But before that it becomes impossible to talk about simple causality. Therefore (1) is unjustified, so the whole argument collapses.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 11:11:45 UTC | #507850

legal9ball's Avatar Comment 24 by legal9ball

Isn't there also a sleight of hand trick in the use of the term "universe?"

As Egbert reminds us, "Premise 1 is a tweaked version of 'Everything requires a cause' to fix the obvious logical flaw that therefore a God would require a cause."

But the tweak doesn't really work, does it?

"Universe" means everthing that is, including it's cause.

If there exists anything at all, it's in the universe.

If there exists something that didn't begin to exist, then it's in the universe.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 11:23:42 UTC | #507855

spmccullagh's Avatar Comment 25 by spmccullagh

I had no idea that this board was so riddled with people claiming pseudo-scientific understandings of logic.

Science PROVES that something cannot just materialise out of nothing, and that energy and matter are intrinsically linked together, therefore the universe as it is just now didn't just appear out of nothing - something must have caused it to come into existence - the LHC project is working on this very fact just now - it is using charged particles to simulate the "big bang" - it's not trying to conjour it out of nothing.

Therefore, we should all surely accept that the universe didn't just materialise out of thin air.

Therefore, we require to acknowledge that something existed prior to that - at this point it doesn't really matter what that is - another universe, particles, or whatever (including all the less well accepted theories on the universe), the point is that something was around unless we're saying that the universe always existed, in which case this argument about God not always existing also crumbles away. So tell me...

Why would God be any less believable than random particles?

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 11:37:24 UTC | #507862

spmccullagh's Avatar Comment 26 by spmccullagh

Also...seems to me that people are confusing cause with effect. The big bang irrespective of what actually happened, no matter what happened, does not in any way negate God existing. The creation of the universe is the effect, the variables that caused that too are effect - not cause.

If I throw a rock over a fence and you watch it, would you spend your time trying to work out how the rock managed to hurl itself over the fence or would you acknowledge that the energy used to propel the rock must have been independent of the rock itself?

Comments like that from Steve Zara above around the "entropy of God" are some of the most ridiculous things I've ever read!

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 11:42:40 UTC | #507863

Rich Wiltshir's Avatar Comment 27 by Rich Wiltshir

@ epeeist

Sorry, there is a real CV for Craig; let's try again

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer?pagename=curriculum_vitae

link text

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 12:04:06 UTC | #507873

Galactor's Avatar Comment 28 by Galactor

Could anyone who thinks that this argument has any merit whatsoever, please clarify what is meant in the first premise? Does "begin to exist" mean a re-organisation of existing matter, e.g., does William Lane Craig begin to exist at the moment of conception when his fathers sperm penetrates his mother's egg or does "begin to exist" mean ex nihilo?

Could the same be clarified for the second premise? Does the universe beginning to exist mean from existing matter or ex nihilo?

And can anyone who thinks this worthless tripe deserves "defending" please give an example of something that "begins to exist"? And preferably, not the erm, conclusion of the, erm, argument?

Oh, it would be great to know whether Craig still is "agnostic" to common ancestry.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 12:07:26 UTC | #507875

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 29 by Jos Gibbons

Comments #507862 & #507863 by spmccullagh

Science PROVES that something cannot just materialise out of nothing

Charge conservation says the total amount of charge stays the same. None at the start, none later. But both positive and negative charges exist; they cancel; and their emergence from no charge is not only possible, but commonly observed. There are many conservation laws in physics, each with an associated “charge”; energy is an example. But they ALL share the “but they have both positive and negative varieties, which cancel to within experimental error” feature. So there’s no problem. Negative energy is found, for example, in gravitational fields. The realisation that the universe can emerge from nothing without violating physical laws goes back to Einstein.

[The LHC] is using charged particles to simulate the "big bang" - it's not trying to conjour it out of nothing.

You just try isolating nothing, let alone doing anything with it once you have. Nothing is, in fact, nowhere near as stable as we’d imagine from common sense. (Thanks a lot, quantum vacuum fluctuations!) The LHC happens to be simulating conditions shortly after the Big Bang – about a nanosecond – although the same could be said of any particle accelerator, as particles at any given sub–Planck temperature are behaving as they did a certain amount of time after the Big Bang. The media has been very misleading regarding what the LHC is all about. Its aim is certainly not to enter into a debate like this. Its purpose is to answer certain unresolved queries about high energy physics, like the mass/existence of the Higgs boson.

the point is that something was around unless we're saying that the universe always existed, in which case this argument about God not always existing also crumbles away.

What argument about God not always existing? We are the ones who are saying that a god who has no cause is at least as objectionable as a universe with none. (I say “at least” because the amount of complexity matters; a universe even more complex than ours is at least in need of an explanation, and designers have to be more complex than what they design.) It is the Kalam Cosmological Argument which seeks to identify a reason for a god to be “let off the hook”. They say things can have an infinite age, but those which do not need a cause.

Why would God be any less believable than random particles?

“Random” is what people like you say because they know nothing of how the entities in question work. Long story short – the laws particles obey cause lots of complexity to emerge from very little of it. The one process for producing complex entities which does not have this benefit, but which instead relies on the prior existence of something even more complex, is design.

The big bang irrespective of what actually happened, no matter what happened, does not in any way negate God existing

Everyone here knows you can always tack on “And God did that bit” to any discovery. But claiming we have good reasons to believe a god actually exists requires something else. The cosmological argument tries to evidence a god by arguing it’s the only possible reason for the existence of the universe. As my lengthy earlier post shows, cosmological arguments don’t even begin to identify the possibilities. If you want to prove something exists in science, you don’t use this style of thinking. You say “Its existence would have these observable effects, which we would not otherwise expect”, then sees whether they happen. Phlogiston and the ether failed this test, whereas electrons and evolution passed it. Very detailed predictions in advance of what is seen is the key.

Comments like that from Steve Zara above around the "entropy of God" are some of the most ridiculous things I've ever read!

To think any statement about entropy is ridiculous, you’d need an understanding of entropy; and, in non –thermal contexts, of information theory: and if you had these, you’d not have needed to ask certain questions above.

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 12:12:24 UTC | #507877

ms2's Avatar Comment 30 by ms2

Comment 25 by spmccullagh :

Science PROVES that something cannot just materialise out of nothing ...

Therefore, we should all surely accept that the universe didn't just materialise out of thin air.

Therefore, we require to acknowledge that something existed prior to that - at this point it doesn't really matter what that is - another universe, particles, or whatever (including all the less well accepted theories on the universe), the point is that something was around unless we're saying that the universe always existed, in which case this argument about God not always existing also crumbles away. So tell me...

Why would God be any less believable than random particles?

Heresy! You just proved god is made of the same stuff as everything else. Do the other Catholics know?

Updated: Mon, 30 Aug 2010 12:30:22 UTC | #507885