Killing the Kalam Cosmological Argument

1.  In order for the Kalam Cosmological argument to be valid, it must deny that the universe has an eternal cause. If it does not deny this then the argument can be refuted by positing that the universe was caused by an event in a prior eternal, or timeless state. There is no evidential reason to make this assumption therefore it must be assumed as a logical impossibility.

 

2. In order for the Kalam Cosmological argument to be valid, it must assume that something springing into existence from nothing without cause is logically impossible. If this assumption is not made then the argument fails because it could simply be refuted by positing a universe which sprang into existence from nothing without cause.

 

3. In order for these assumptions to be consistent then God can neither be eternal, nor have sprung into existence from nothing without cause. If these assumptions can be invalidated in the special case of God then there is no reason why the opponent cannot claim that the assumptions are invalid for the universe.

 

4. The Kalam Cosmological argument is invalid if it doesn’t assume point’s 1 & 2, but it is invalid if it does assume them. Therefore it fails on it’s own terms.

 

Try harder next time…

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32 Comments

Filed under Philosophy, Religion

32 responses to “Killing the Kalam Cosmological Argument

  1. This is a mis-representation of the argument.

    1. The KCA is a positive argument. It is not meant to deny anything. It’s not the job of the KCA to show that something is not possible. It’s the job of the KCA to show that the evidence supports its premises and conclusion; the best explanation of the data is that the KCA is true.

    Now proponents of the KCA have gone far enough to demonstrate that it is naturalistically impossible for the universe to have been eternal, but only to support the idea that the universe began to exist as the best explanation of the data we have.

    2. Again, this is a mis-representation of the argument. We’re not talking about logical impossibility; it’s about naturalistic impossibility. And my argument I pointed out on my blog about the concept of actual infinites not being a reality goes to evidentiary support that this is naturalistically impossible.

    3. It can be invalidated for God because God by definition is supernatural. The universe conforms to natural law. So we’re talking apples and oranges.

    4. Makes absolutely no sense.

    • Doctor Bad Sign

      Yes all this talk of the supernatural is very nice, you can waive your hands and claim that something that applies to the natural doesn’t apply to the supernatural. However, all you’re doing is asserting something without any evidence whatsoever. Which means I can quite legitimately dismiss your assertions without any evidence whatsoever. Do you have anything other than an assertion that says ‘actual infinities cannot exist in the natural realm, but they can in the supernatural’? What it looks like to me is that this assertion is made for no other reason than convenience. This whole ‘naturalistically impossible’ canard is just special pleading in a fancy disguise. You have no concrete reason to assert that some things are impossible naturalistically whilst perfectly possible supernaturally therefore I have no reason to view that as a reasonable objection.

      Until you can demonstrate that there is such a thing as the supernatural, and that it does conform to your portrayal of it (rather than say actual infinities also being impossible in the supernatural) then I have no reason to pay any attention to your objections, because as it stands you’re just asserting magical excuses to make your argument valid, and mine seem invalid.

      If I were to say ‘well actually the universe has this magical property which means that it always existed, whilst the supernatural has no such magical property’ I’d have made just as good an argument as you just have. Do me a favour, don’t come asserting the existence of this magical supernatural realm without any evidence that it is anything other than a figment of your imagination. If you can show me convincing evidence that there is such a thing as the supernatural then I shall take notice, but until then I shall dismiss your claims on account of Hitchens’ razor “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”

      • Pardon me, but is not the claim here that there is no evidence to support the KCA? That makes the burden of proof yours, not mine. It is up to you to show that there is no evidence, otherwise it is a baseless claim. You can’t say “my claim can’t be disproven, therefore it’s true,” for risk of falling into the same fallacy you claim theists use. I’ve done you a favor of providing evidence in support of the KCA, but really in order to undermine it you have to deny one of its premises, which you have not done. You have asked the KCA to deny YOUR premise, which is completely absurd.

        So which premise do you deny exactly, and on what hard evidence do you deny it? An alternative theory is only a reasonable rebuttal if it can provide as much or more evidence than the explanation presented by the argument.

        Based on your last paragraph in your second comment, I believe you wish to deny premise 2. But the concept of actual infinites, which I’ve documented well both here and on my blog, makes an eternal universe an actual impossibility. In addition, see my blog post here for the scientific evidence that supports a universe with a definite beginning.

        Given what I’ve stated here, do you really believe there is no evidence to support the KCA, or is it that no evidence has satisfied your burden in order to believe its truthfulness?

  2. Doctor Bad Sign

    In terms of the Kalam Cosmological argument, premise 2 is based on a misunderstanding of cosmology, as professor Brian Greene writes:

    “A common misconception is that the big bang provides a theory of cosmic origins. It doesn’t. The big bang is a theory, partly described in the last two chapters, that delineates cosmic evolution from a split second after whatever happened to bring the universe into existence, but it says nothing at all of time zero itself. And since, according to the beginning, the big bang leaves out the bang. It tells us nothing about what banged, why it banged, how it banged, or frankly whether it ever really banged at all.”

    Brian Greene – The Fabric of the Cosmos p. 272

    I’d also recommend that you pick up a book called ‘Before the Big Bang’ by Brian Clegg. In it he lays out several of the latest theories of what came before the big bang – there are many different models, all of which provide examples of how flawed the KCA is.

    The KCA assumes that all things that ‘begin to exist’ have a cause. We have no evidence of anything beginning to exist except perhaps at the big bang – yet we don’t know whether or not that required a cause, or if it was the beginning. We don’t observe anything else beginning to exist (we observe matter recycling itself into different forms, but not beginning to exist), except you could argue virtual particles, which contrary to the assertions of the KCA begin to exist without cause.

    The KCA is flawed because it assumes that the universe began, when there is no support of this. There are cosmological theories that posit begininngless models (despite your assertions).

    • I’ve sent you this before. This is a blog written by an atheist who discusses virtual particles. They don’t actually spring into existence without cause, as you so assert.

      • Doctor Bad Sign

        Can you show me something beginning to exist? Matter takes on new forms, gains/loses electrons, undergoes reactions etc, but it doesn’t begin to exist. Matter cannot be created or destroyed, as the law goes. So even if that is correct, the first premise is faulty, because we don’t observe things beginning to exist, therefore we cannot say whether or not they require a cause.

      • Sure. What about experiences?

  3. Doctor Bad Sign

    That’s not relevant to the argument.

    We’re talking about the universe, i.e: all matter and energy. The experience and the subject are made up of matter and energy, no matter or energy is created or destroyed in the process it is simply recycling itself and moving along the ‘arrow of time’ thermodynamically speaking.

    Also when do experiences begin to exist? I couldn’t tell you a precise moment that I began to get out of bed, and when that experience ended and getting in the shower began. I can divide my experience into categories for linguistic convenience ‘getting out of bed’ and ‘getting in the shower’ but really the chain of experience links the two seamlessly.

    You can trace concious experience back to around the time of birth (although I’ve heard it said that we aren’t fully concious at birth). However, if like me you assume that unless proven otherwise conciousness is a product of the brain, then no matter or energy is created, conciousness arises as a product of matter arranging itself in a particular way. If you assume that conciousness has some immaterial component to it then this still doesn’t demonstrate the first premise because you can’t say that this immaterial conciousness began to exist at some point (a Buddhist would tell you that it always existed and always will) or if it required a cause to initiate it’s beginning.

    • It’s relevant in that I’m giving you an example of something that came into existence. How is experience made up of matter and energy?

      Let me be give you a more specific example of experience. What about a dream? Dreams have a definite starting point, because it has been well-documented that there are periods of sleep where no dreaming occurs, particularly before you enter a first REM cycle. So if dreams happen, they begin definitely, and they end definitely (in most cases, because you wake up).

      Whether consciousness arises from the brain or not is irrelevant to this discussion, because a dream itself is not a material thing. You can’t reach out and grab a dream. So it’s not possible for the dream experience to be recycled matter, because in and of itself it’s not material, no matter what its cause is.

      So I’ve given you something that has a definite beginning and requires a cause. I believe I’ve satisfied your evidentiary burden for premise 1.

      • Doctor Bad Sign

        “It’s relevant in that I’m giving you an example of something that came into existence. How is experience made up of matter and energy?”

        Firstly all events we experience are made up of matter and energy. Secondly our experience of things is determined by a gelatinous lump of matter in our skulls. If I were to remove your brain then I can guarantee that your experience of this universe would cease.

        “Let me be give you a more specific example of experience. What about a dream? Dreams have a definite starting point, because it has been well-documented that there are periods of sleep where no dreaming occurs, particularly before you enter a first REM cycle. So if dreams happen, they begin definitely, and they end definitely (in most cases, because you wake up).”

        Dreams are an emergent property of our brains. To explain using an analogy, ‘wetness’ is a property of water. In the first years after the big bang there was no wetness because there was no Oxygen atoms to bond with the Hydrogen atoms. However once Oxygen was formed in stars, and ejected into space after supernovae there was Oxygen around which could covalently bond with two Hydrogen molecules to form water, and thus the property of ‘wetness’ emerged. So it is true that wetness began to exist, however it is an emergent property – no matter or energy is created or destroyed in this process. Similarly conciousness is in my view and emergent property – no matter and energy are created or destroyed in order for conciousness to begin, so in this view conciousness and thus dream experiences are emergent properties which do not have a beginning of existence in the same way that the universe does. Wetness and conciousness arising in the universe is not the same as all the matter in the universe beginning to exist. So whilst you can argue that the first premise of the KCA applies to emergent properties, it does not necessarily apply to matter and energy beginning to exist – the two things are completely different kettles of fish. Having not observed matter and energy beginning to exist – it would be false to claim that they require a cause in the same way that emergent properties do, because I do not think that the two are sufficiently analogous.

        “Whether consciousness arises from the brain or not is irrelevant to this discussion, because a dream itself is not a material thing. You can’t reach out and grab a dream. So it’s not possible for the dream experience to be recycled matter, because in and of itself it’s not material, no matter what its cause is.”

        Dreams are emergent properties of matter when arranged in a certain way. Things without brains do not dream. No energy is created or destroyed during a dream therefore it is not analogous to the beginning of the universe.

      • But I’m not talking about where the dream comes from. I’m talking about it as an experience that has a definite beginning or end regardless of where it comes from. And it’s immaterial. So while I understand your whole rebuttal comment, it’s completely irrelevant to satisfy your burden of proof.

  4. I think we’re missing the point here. The bigger question here is, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” For we have seen that no thing that exists sprang into being from nothing. Not even virtual particles. Yet we have real, definite things comprised of matter and energy, like you say. Why do these things exist rather than not exist? Surely either matter and energy had to have begun existing at some point in time with which to recycle these things, because we’ve already been over the impossibility of an eternal universe given the lack of reality of infinity. And you can’t just exempt the universe naturalistically (taxicab fallacy).

    So why is there something rather than nothing?

    • Doctor Bad Sign

      Well Frank Wilczek puts it rather succinctly: “The answer to the ancient question ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ would then be that ‘nothing’ is unstable.”

      Victor Stenger has also stated: “Since nothing is as simple as it gets, we cannot expect it to be very stable.” Given the laws of nature, “the probability for there being something rather than nothing can actually be calculated; it is over 60 percent” (God the Failed Hypothesis pp. 132-33)

      See:
      http://www.frankwilczek.com/Wilczek_Easy_Pieces/052_Cosmic_Asymmetry_between_Matter_and_Antimatter.pdf
      and
      http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Briefs/Something.pdf

      • Did you read the blog post on nothingness I linked? Let me quote from Craig again, then.

        “Properly understood, ‘nothing’ does not mean just empty space. Nothing is the absence of anything whatsoever, even space itself. As such, nothingness has literally no properties at all, since there isn’t anything to have any properties! How silly, then, when popularizes say things like ‘Nothing is unstable’ or ‘The universe tunneled into being out of nothing’!”

        Stability is a property. True nothingness has no properties. So both of your quotations are useless.

        I ask again, why is there something rather than nothing?

  5. Doctor Bad Sign

    Who says that there ever could be absolutely nothing? I’ve not seen any proof that there ever had to be a point at which there was absolute nothingness.

    Why is there God rather than nothing?

    • That’s an attempt to shift the burden of proof. Not gonna work. There is an answer to your question, but the burden of proof is not on me. Not yet, anyway.

      If you are going to state that you have never seen anything begin to exist or come into existence, then you must answer the question of why anything at all even actually exists. You have not offered any explanation for why things exist rather than not existing. What are the grounds for such a belief on atheism?

      • Doctor Bad Sign

        Why do I need to explain it? Things exist that is pretty clear, I’m not making any positive claims as to how that should have come to be (asking ‘why’ is a loaded question implying purpose). We don’t have all the data required to claim any knowledge on that question, and unlike you I’m intellectually honest enough to admit that. I am also comfortable with the fact that whatever the answer to that question is, it is probably not a disembodied mind who is strangely enamoured with circumcised Israeli men, and who sent down his son in human form who was also paradoxically himself, in order that he could die to appease the sins that he originally condemned us to. That my friend is the height of ridiculousness.

        You’re the one who is asserting that one possibility out of numerous other possibilities is correct, and that all other alternatives are invalid. You’re the one claiming to have knowledge. Don’t act like you have no burden of proof to fulfil.

        Lets not forget that you are positing Yahweh here, not some kind of abstract deist God. You’re talking about the God of the ancient Hebrews. The God who physically wrestled with Jacob, the God who fills the pages of the Old Testament with psychotic genocidal wrath, the God who commands such bigotry that he could only have been the product of the lowest, most despicable human minds. You are asserting that this ancient barbaric war-God is the creator of the entire universe, and you act like my open and honest agnostic-atheist position on the origin of the universe is somehow irrational, simply because I don’t accept that whatever it was that happened at the beginning of the universe was a mind, or an author.

        Neither myself, you, nor anyone else has ever observed matter arising from nothing therefore it would be entirely dishonest to claim any kind of firm knowledge on the matter. Without making a claim there is no burden on my shoulders. You’re the one asserting that whatever happened at the beginning of the universe must have been the work of the ancient Israeli God; Yahweh – you have an enormous burden of proof to fulfil…

      • Wow I didn’t realize you would be so touchy when pressed on this. My apologies.

        Allow me to just piece together what I saw in your last comment:

        1) In your initial argument you say that the KCA can be refuted by positing an eternal universe. Yet when pressed on evidence for such a refutation, your response: “Why do I need to explain it?”

        2) When discussing the something from nothing (as part of your initial point #2), and why something exists rather than nothing, your response: “Things exist that is pretty clear.”

        3) When again pressed on the question, your response: “You’re the one who is asserting that one possibility out of numerous other possibilities is correct, and that all other alternatives are invalid. You’re the one claiming to have knowledge. Don’t act like you have no burden of proof to fulfil.” The reality is that I’m simply asking for a reasonable explanation for your agnostic-atheism on existence. A post hoc answer of “that’s just the way things are” doesn’t satisfy the question, because the question isn’t how, it’s why.

        4) On the issue of something from nothing again, originally you responded: “We don’t observe anything else beginning to exist (we observe matter recycling itself into different forms, but not beginning to exist), except you could argue virtual particles, which contrary to the assertions of the KCA begin to exist without cause.” But now you contradict yourself by saying: “Neither myself, you, nor anyone else has ever observed matter arising from nothing therefore it would be entirely dishonest to claim any kind of firm knowledge on the matter.” Note the positive claim in your first part: “which contrary to the assertions of the KCA begin to exist without cause.” This requires a burden of proof that you never satisfied and later refuted yourself.

        So do you see? When asked why there is something rather than nothing, your argument boils down to “There just is! Deal with it!” How is that being intellectually honest? That’s stopping at a level that is comfortable to you without pressing forward to really answer the question.

        Let me give you a plagiarized example to help illustrate why this is relevant. Imagine that you’re hiking through the woods and you come across a translucent ball lying on the floor. You would naturally wonder how it come to be there. If one of your hiking partners said to you, “Hey it just exists inexplicably. Don’t worry about it!” you’d think that he was crazy or figure that he just wanted you to keep moving. No one would take seriously the suggestion that the ball existed there with literally no explanation.

        Now suppose you increase the size of the ball in this story so that it’s the size of a car. That wouldn’t do anything to satisfy or remove the demand for an explanation. Suppose it were the size of a house. Same problem. Suppose it were the size of a continent or planet. Same problem. Suppose it were the size of the entire universe. Same problem. Merely increasing the size of the ball does nothing to affect the need of an explanation.

        And that is the point I’m making here. We need an explanation for why we are here. And we need that explanation to be satisfactory to explain why we are here instead of not here. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either necessarily or in a cause of its existence. This is the first premise of Leibniz’s cosmological argument, and it makes perfect sense here. And what explanation can you give for our existence on agnostic-atheism? That is merely what I’m trying to get at here.

        A personal attack on my beliefs does not undermine the need for this question to be answered to ground your worldview. I’m simply pressing you to give me something firm to hold onto instead of “deal with it.”

  6. Doctor Bad Sign

    “1) In your initial argument you say that the KCA can be refuted by positing an eternal universe. Yet when pressed on evidence for such a refutation, your response: “Why do I need to explain it?””

    The KCA can be refuted by the fact that premise 1 is an unsupported assertion. From which premise 2 is drawn once more without support. However even if 1, 2 & 3 are granted 4 doesn’t necessarily follow. I don’t need to know the exact explanation to see that the KCA has more holes in it than my colander. Sure an eternal model is a plausible demonstration that there is a flaw in the KCA, so are cyclic models – I don’t know which is correct to know that the KCA is flawed. The mere existence of alternatives to the assertions of the KCA is enough to demonstrate it’s weakness.

    “2) When discussing the something from nothing (as part of your initial point #2), and why something exists rather than nothing, your response: “Things exist that is pretty clear.””

    Why is there something rather than nothing is a loaded question. It implies that there must be some purpose behind there being something. This is not the case. There are cosmologists who have come up with plausible models of how the universe could arise from nothing, and I’d take their word over that of a “philosopher” like WLC. So we have some possible answers as to how a universe came from nothing. This doesn’t fulfil the ‘why’ question, but there is no point in asking that.

    “3) When again pressed on the question, your response: “You’re the one who is asserting that one possibility out of numerous other possibilities is correct, and that all other alternatives are invalid. You’re the one claiming to have knowledge. Don’t act like you have no burden of proof to fulfil.” The reality is that I’m simply asking for a reasonable explanation for your agnostic-atheism on existence. A post hoc answer of “that’s just the way things are” doesn’t satisfy the question, because the question isn’t how, it’s why.”

    There doesn’t have to be a reason or a purpose. It’s a loaded question. Its like asking ‘why does up exist?’, I can explain what up is, and even how it came to be, but you could keep on asking ‘why?’ and never get to a sensible answer. ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ to me is like asking ‘why does up exist?’ there is no way to answer such questions therefore they are pointless.

    “4) On the issue of something from nothing again, originally you responded: “We don’t observe anything else beginning to exist (we observe matter recycling itself into different forms, but not beginning to exist), except you could argue virtual particles, which contrary to the assertions of the KCA begin to exist without cause.” But now you contradict yourself by saying: “Neither myself, you, nor anyone else has ever observed matter arising from nothing therefore it would be entirely dishonest to claim any kind of firm knowledge on the matter.” Note the positive claim in your first part: “which contrary to the assertions of the KCA begin to exist without cause.” This requires a burden of proof that you never satisfied and later refuted yourself.”

    Notice I said ‘you could argue’. I’m not a quantum physicist, and neither are you, I have heard it argued that virtual particles arise from nothing without cause – I was willing to accept your refutation of that. It makes no difference to my argument or my position.

    “So do you see? When asked why there is something rather than nothing, your argument boils down to “There just is! Deal with it!” How is that being intellectually honest? That’s stopping at a level that is comfortable to you without pressing forward to really answer the question.”

    Its a stupid question. Can you tell me why there is colour? Can you tell me why light-speed is 670 million mph? Can you explain the purpose of purpose. You can ask why about anything, and its pointless, because any answer you can give I can just childishly state ‘why?’ in response, and you’ll never get an answer.

    Why did God create the universe rather than not? Would you agree that is a pointless question of me to ask you? Then perhaps you’ll understand just how pointless it is to ask ‘why is there something rather than nothing?’.

    There is no sensible answer to that question. I might as well say ‘because flamingos are pink’.

    “Let me give you a plagiarized example to help illustrate why this is relevant. Imagine that you’re hiking through the woods and you come across a translucent ball lying on the floor. You would naturally wonder how it come to be there. If one of your hiking partners said to you, “Hey it just exists inexplicably. Don’t worry about it!” you’d think that he was crazy or figure that he just wanted you to keep moving. No one would take seriously the suggestion that the ball existed there with literally no explanation.

    Now suppose you increase the size of the ball in this story so that it’s the size of a car. That wouldn’t do anything to satisfy or remove the demand for an explanation. Suppose it were the size of a house. Same problem. Suppose it were the size of a continent or planet. Same problem. Suppose it were the size of the entire universe. Same problem. Merely increasing the size of the ball does nothing to affect the need of an explanation.

    And that is the point I’m making here. We need an explanation for why we are here. And we need that explanation to be satisfactory to explain why we are here instead of not here. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either necessarily or in a cause of its existence. This is the first premise of Leibniz’s cosmological argument, and it makes perfect sense here. And what explanation can you give for our existence on agnostic-atheism? That is merely what I’m trying to get at here.”

    There is no discernible purpose to existence, just as there is no definitive purpose to any thing you can think of. There is an explanation, but our knowledge of the explanation only goes back to a certain point and may never be complete in our lifetime. You don’t need to evoke a magic ball, I couldn’t tell you a definite purpose to anything, as far as I know there is no purpose, it is all absurd and meaningless to the highest degree. The explanation is different, it’s a how question, not a why question, and so far we don’t exactly know how, we know up to a point, but it breaks down after a while.

    So in terms of the how – we don’t yet know. In terms of the why I’d posit that it is a pointless question because even on theism you can childishly keep asking ‘why’, ‘why does God exist?’ is probably as meaningless to you as ‘why is there something rather than nothing?’ is to me. Any answer you give I can just ask ‘yeah, but why?’… Its a waste of time.

    You’re asking it like it is a sensible and important question. In my opinion it is neither.

    • I think we’ve arrived at the real problem here. I think your issues with any evidentiary arguments in favor of God’s existence are rooted in your belief that there is no purpose to anything. Life is devoid of purpose, and therefore meaning or value. What we say or do in the scheme of things is ultimately meaningless, because it all gets swallowed up in heat death at the end. So trying to argue for God makes no sense, because it’s all meaningless anyway. Whether you are willing to admit that or not, it’s the conclusion to atheism; all is done in vain. It’s a scary and saddening thought to realize one has no purpose in life, no inherent value, and no meaning.

      That’s not to say atheists believe there is no meaning or purpose. It’s just that on atheism, the ultimate result is exactly that, so any attempt to find meaning or purpose is either a distortion of atheism or a delusion about something that’s not really there.

      What I can offer you is exactly what you’re missing. God’s existence (and consequently, a belief in God) suddenly gives you purpose, value and meaning. Why is there something rather than nothing? According to Leibniz’s argument, it’s because everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, and on theism that explanation is God. Why would God exist? Well, He exists necessarily on classical theism. Why would God cause anything else to exist? Well, that answer is simple. To bring glory to Himself. He is the greatest conceivable Being, and such a Being is clearly worthy of worship, if He exists. Everything you see around you exists for that very reason.

      Part of bringing Himself glory is God’s relationship with man. If we can bring Him glory through loving Him, through attempting to understand Him, through telling others about Him, then the result is that we can rest assured that heat death is not the end for us. We can share in eternity with God, as He transforms us from what we are in this life to something completely different. As God, He has that power.

      When you live in that light–that life extends beyond the grave–then all of a sudden our existence abounds with purpose and meaning, and we are able to find an enormous amount of inherent value, because the greatest conceivable Being values us.

      When you look at it from that perspective, the whole reason for even having this discussion becomes perfectly clear. Otherwise, we are just (as atheism affirms) arguing in vain.

      I encourage you to become an active seeker of what this means for you. I’m more than happy to help, though I know I’ve done my share of antagonizing you and perhaps even seeming “un-Christian.” I can understand if you would rather not use me as a resource. But this is the greatest and probably most difficult decision you could ever make. Accept the value and purpose that is being offered to you by God. You’ll be glad you did.

  7. Doctor Bad Sign

    Just to illustrate the fact that asking me this question does not put your position in any greater place than mine, perhaps you can briefly answer:

    Why is there something rather than nothing?

  8. Doctor Bad Sign

    “I think we’ve arrived at the real problem here. I think your issues with any evidentiary arguments in favor of God’s existence are rooted in your belief that there is no purpose to anything. Life is devoid of purpose, and therefore meaning or value. What we say or do in the scheme of things is ultimately meaningless, because it all gets swallowed up in heat death at the end. So trying to argue for God makes no sense, because it’s all meaningless anyway. Whether you are willing to admit that or not, it’s the conclusion to atheism; all is done in vain. It’s a scary and saddening thought to realize one has no purpose in life, no inherent value, and no meaning.”

    Being devoid of absolute meaning doesn’t mean that life is meaningless. To say so would be completely fallacious. I find plenty of meaning in life, I just don’t see any absolute objective meaning and purpose to life. Also whilst it is true that ultimately I will cease to exist, this prospect only adds value to this life, the only one I can be sure to get. Knowing that this brief glimpse might be my only chance of existence makes every single day infinitely precious.

    “That’s not to say atheists believe there is no meaning or purpose. It’s just that on atheism, the ultimate result is exactly that, so any attempt to find meaning or purpose is either a distortion of atheism or a delusion about something that’s not really there.”

    Not at all. Take sport for example, there is no objective meaning or value to any sport, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be subjectively meaningful to people. Some people find meaning in religion, others find it in fixing motorbikes or sport – we all find our own meaning in life. No one can say that there is a definite objective purpose to all things that applies universally to everyone.

    “What I can offer you is exactly what you’re missing. God’s existence (and consequently, a belief in God) suddenly gives you purpose, value and meaning. Why is there something rather than nothing? According to Leibniz’s argument, it’s because everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, and on theism that explanation is God. Why would God exist? Well, He exists necessarily on classical theism. Why would God cause anything else to exist? Well, that answer is simple. To bring glory to Himself. He is the greatest conceivable Being, and such a Being is clearly worthy of worship, if He exists. Everything you see around you exists for that very reason.”

    I don’t need to have faith in an invisible supernatural being to give my life value.

    Why is there God rather than nothing? Whatever way you look at it, whatever you believe existence is fundamentally absurd, your position does not escape that. Why should God exist rather than not? If theism is true existence is still fundamentally absurd.

    Also why would a perfect being desire to be worshipped? Surely a perfect being would desire nothing? And therefore neither desire to create anything nor be worshipped by anyone?

    “Part of bringing Himself glory is God’s relationship with man. If we can bring Him glory through loving Him, through attempting to understand Him, through telling others about Him, then the result is that we can rest assured that heat death is not the end for us. We can share in eternity with God, as He transforms us from what we are in this life to something completely different. As God, He has that power.”

    Imagine I created a little race of concious robots, and I built them a little world to live in, and I programmed them to have free will, but I was extremely displeased with those who did not worship and glorify me, in fact I tortured those who did not love me, and rewarded those who did. Would you not think such behaviour was at least a little bit psychotic?

    I don’t think a being who commands love with threats and rewards is worthy of being loved much less worshipped. You would not admire those characteristics in a human, so why admire them in God? These are the characteristics of a socio-path and a psychopath.

    I do not worship anyone, supernatural or not, there are those whom I respect, but those I respect never demand that I respect them (and I wouldn’t respect someone who demanded it). Even if there were a creator of the cosmos I might conceive of respecting and being in awe and admiration of such a being, but I would never worship it, especially not if they commanded it.

    • I sense a stubbornness in will here. Again, I understand what you define as meaning and value, but I’m talking about ultimate meaning and ultimate value. Everything you do winds up counting for naught, which robs the universe of meaning and value. If heat death is the end result, then no matter what pleasures you took in your life, it served no ultimate purpose. Without purpose, there is no actual value to doing anything, because in the end it achieves nothing.

      Why does God exist rather than nothing? I answered that before, but God exists necessarily. Some things exist by a necessity of their own nature. In other words, it is impossible for them not to exist. Many mathematicians thanks that numbers, sets and other mathematical entities exist this way.

      The explanation of God’s existence lies in the necessity of His own nature. As any atheist would freely admit, it’s impossible for the greatest conceivable Being (denoted here as God) to have a cause. So Leibniz’s argument is really an argument for God as a necessary, uncaused Being.
      So the answer to your question actually helps to clarify and magnify who God is. If God exists, He is a necessarily existing, uncaused Being.

      I think you also misunderstand God and desire. God doesn’t need to be worshipped; He welcomes it as a recognition of Himself as the greatest conceivable Being. There is none greater, so by definition the greatest Being would be worthy of worship, whether you choose to bow the knee or not. God needs nothing, but He welcomes whatever we bring to Him. As such, He doesn’t command respect, but is worthy of it and allows people to make choices (with consequences) based on their choice of whether or not to give it.

      Your perception of who God is appears to be greatly skewed from who God actually is. Would you be willing to seriously take that approach and dive in to a legitimate understanding of who God is? Perhaps then you’ll be able to make a completely reasonable decision to accept or reject.

      I urge you not to be so defiant. There’s a whole other side that you’re missing out on, and it’s well worth taking a serious look into.

  9. Doctor Bad Sign

    “I sense a stubbornness in will here. Again, I understand what you define as meaning and value, but I’m talking about ultimate meaning and ultimate value. Everything you do winds up counting for naught, which robs the universe of meaning and value. If heat death is the end result, then no matter what pleasures you took in your life, it served no ultimate purpose. Without purpose, there is no actual value to doing anything, because in the end it achieves nothing.”

    The fact that they don’t have an ultimate purpose doesn’t rob any meaning or value whatsoever. I have no concerns about whether or not my actions have an eternally enduring impact on things, I care about how they how they impact on my life and those around me in the present and immediate future. The lack of absolute purpose and meaning do not detract at all from my living a rich meaningful life.

    “Why does God exist rather than nothing? I answered that before, but God exists necessarily. Some things exist by a necessity of their own nature. In other words, it is impossible for them not to exist. Many mathematicians thanks that numbers, sets and other mathematical entities exist this way.”

    So you deny the possibility that there was any possibility for God not to exist? Are you saying that God exists necessarily because the universe exists? If so that doesn’t answer the question, I’m asking why does God exist rather than absolutely nothing at all, no numbers, sets or God?

    Also if you’re saying that God exists necessarily because the universe exists then this is completely circular: God exists because the universe exists because God exists because the universe exists because God exists because the universe exists because God exists because the universe exists because God exists because the universe exists because God exists because the universe exists because God exists because the universe exists because…

    “The explanation of God’s existence lies in the necessity of His own nature. As any atheist would freely admit, it’s impossible for the greatest conceivable Being (denoted here as God) to have a cause. So Leibniz’s argument is really an argument for God as a necessary, uncaused Being.
    So the answer to your question actually helps to clarify and magnify who God is. If God exists, He is a necessarily existing, uncaused Being.”

    I was asking why God and not complete emptiness, absolute void etc.? Why should such a being exist in the first place rather than a complete void, no space, no time, no matter, no energy, no nothing? Even if you say God just exists (which is a mega cop-out) then its still absurd, why should the universe be such a way that God just exists?

    “I think you also misunderstand God and desire. God doesn’t need to be worshipped; He welcomes it as a recognition of Himself as the greatest conceivable Being. There is none greater, so by definition the greatest Being would be worthy of worship, whether you choose to bow the knee or not. God needs nothing, but He welcomes whatever we bring to Him. As such, He doesn’t command respect, but is worthy of it and allows people to make choices (with consequences) based on their choice of whether or not to give it.”

    What do you think will happen to me if I die as an unrepentant atheist?

    • Hmm. Call me crazy, but I don’t think you’re being entirely honest with yourself here. You say that there is no absolute meaning or purpose, yet you still feel life is meaningful. Those two things don’t seem to jibe. It seems like either what you view as meaningful is just illusory, or that life actually does have meaning, which implies that something other than atheism is true.

      The reason for this is obvious. In order for life to be meaningful, the thing responsible for our life must give us this meaning. On atheism, that is the universe, which is amoral and completely indifferent to us. So the logical conclusion is that life is meaningless, and therefore any meaning we derive is just delusion.

      On God’s existence, yes, I’m affirming that it is not possible for God to not have existed, but His existence does not depend on the universe. The universe does not exist necessarily, because it was created by God. But God exists by the necessity of His own nature, so for Him not to exist is impossible.

      I think you’re looking at it from a framework that God and the universe co-exist. That’s not the framework for a theist’s worldview. The universe is a sub-set of God, because God is the universe’s cause. It’s not a cop out to say God just exists, because the universe gives necessity to His existence. The universe exists because God exists, and the fact that the universe exists gives us a reasonable foundation to believe in a purpose for God’s existence–namely, to create the universe. It’s a completely rational framework.

      To your final question, I’m curious to hear your own response to that question. After I give you mine, would you give me yours?

      Mine comes directly from the book of John, which I’ve been encouraging you to read:

      “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

      If you choose to reject God, then you have condemned yourself as God’s sworn enemy. You would rather spit in His face than accept His embrace. As much as God wishes you would choose Him, He loves you too much to force you to choose Him. So I would say if you die an unrepentant atheist, as you say, then you are choosing not to share in eternal life with God. I sincerely hope you don’t make that choice.

  10. Doctor Bad Sign

    “Hmm. Call me crazy, but I don’t think you’re being entirely honest with yourself here. You say that there is no absolute meaning or purpose, yet you still feel life is meaningful. Those two things don’t seem to jibe. It seems like either what you view as meaningful is just illusory, or that life actually does have meaning, which implies that something other than atheism is true.”

    Not at all. Our minds are capable of finding meaning in our lives, what I find meaningful doesn’t apply universally to everyone, it’s something personal and subjective to me. Sport is a perfect example, if an alien were to come down and view a game of tennis they would view it as meaningless and utterly strange, however to some individuals tennis is everything and it means a lot to them. I’m not sure what there is not to get about that.

    “The reason for this is obvious. In order for life to be meaningful, the thing responsible for our life must give us this meaning. On atheism, that is the universe, which is amoral and completely indifferent to us. So the logical conclusion is that life is meaningless, and therefore any meaning we derive is just delusion.”

    Any objective meaning we derive from the universe is delusional yes. However, its quite clear that as a species we are able to find our own meaning in things. Most of the things we enjoy doing objectively are completely meaningless, poker, dancing, cycling, art, rock climbing etc etc. all of these things have no universal meaning – an alien might be completely confused as to why we do such things, but they are subjectively very meaningful to some people. We are quite capable of finding meaning in meaningless things.

    “On God’s existence, yes, I’m affirming that it is not possible for God to not have existed, but His existence does not depend on the universe. The universe does not exist necessarily, because it was created by God. But God exists by the necessity of His own nature, so for Him not to exist is impossible.”

    Sounds like nonsense to me.

    “I think you’re looking at it from a framework that God and the universe co-exist. That’s not the framework for a theist’s worldview. The universe is a sub-set of God, because God is the universe’s cause. It’s not a cop out to say God just exists, because the universe gives necessity to His existence. The universe exists because God exists, and the fact that the universe exists gives us a reasonable foundation to believe in a purpose for God’s existence–namely, to create the universe. It’s a completely rational framework.”

    That does nothing to support your assertion that God can’t not exist. But even if that were true, why should it be so that there is a being that can’t not exist rather than there being nothing? Its still an absurd position to say that for no reason there is this being who just exists, who decided to create a universe, why should it be that way?

    In response to your last part: I am not rejecting anything, I see no reason to believe that God exists, its not that I am aware of God’s existence and I chose to turn my back, I simply see absolutely no evidence to convince me to accept the proposition that God exists. Its not a choice for me because I don’t see a reason to accept that there is a choice in the first place. If I am to be punished for not accepting something on faith, for abandoning my critical faculties then such a being is not worthy of worship.

    • I’m not sure you understand what I’m getting at. You understand that any meaning derived from the universe is delusional. But the implication of that is that everything we do within in the universe is also meaningless on atheism, because the end result is meaningless. There can be no real meaning to anything without achieving a desirable end result, and on atheism there is no such result. So whether people find meaning in something is irrelevant, because on atheism the only possible explanation is delusion, since the universe renders no meaning.

      It’s not an absurd position to believe that some things exist necessarily. There are things in existence that show no evidence or reason to have been caused by the universe. Laws of logic, for instance, help govern the universe; they are not governed by the universe itself. As I said before, the principles of mathematics also fall in this category, many mathematicians believe. So we have perfectly good reason to believe that some things exist necessarily, and therefore sufficient reason to believe that God is a necessary Being.

      There is good reason to believe that a necessary Being should exist rather than there being nothing–because existence or lack thereof can only be found in Him. He is the greatest conceivable Being, and so defines all of the parameters of what we are able to understand. That includes the parameter of nothingness as far as we can understand it. So even the concept of nothingness doesn’t exist without God, which is why He is necessarily existent.

      To your last part, there’s a bigger picture here than what you’re looking at. You’re looking at it from a rejection or lack of rejection about God’s existence. It’s far greater than that. God is offering you a chance at eternal life, if you will accept His gift of grace and start loving Him. It is this gift you reject by willfully going your own way, believing you don’t need God. Friend, we all need Him.

      You aren’t being punished for not having faith in God. For one, you’ve chosen the sentence yourself in that instance. But rather, you’re choosing to place faith in a world that is cold and cares nothing for you. And it’s a world that is in the hands of the enemy. So you’re placing your faith in what the enemy of God is offering you. That’s a rejection of life, friend. You have plenty of faith; I just think it’s time you started putting it in something meaningful.

  11. Doctor Bad Sign

    “I’m not sure you understand what I’m getting at. You understand that any meaning derived from the universe is delusional. But the implication of that is that everything we do within in the universe is also meaningless on atheism, because the end result is meaningless. There can be no real meaning to anything without achieving a desirable end result, and on atheism there is no such result. So whether people find meaning in something is irrelevant, because on atheism the only possible explanation is delusion, since the universe renders no meaning.”

    Why is living a happy and fulfilled life with the limited time that we have here not count as a desirable end result? That’s what I want from life. I want to live happily and share my happiness with others as much as possible. If I can achieve that by the time my life is over then it will have been as meaningful as I could possibly have hoped. There is no evidence that this is why we’re here, but it is perfectly rational to hold to such a meaning, even if it is subjective in the face of reality.

    “It’s not an absurd position to believe that some things exist necessarily. There are things in existence that show no evidence or reason to have been caused by the universe. Laws of logic, for instance, help govern the universe; they are not governed by the universe itself. As I said before, the principles of mathematics also fall in this category, many mathematicians believe. So we have perfectly good reason to believe that some things exist necessarily, and therefore sufficient reason to believe that God is a necessary Being. ”

    I’d disagree the laws of logic are defined by the universe itself, not the other way around. If we lived in a universe in which effect preceded cause then our laws of logic would reflect that. Our laws of logic reflect the way the universe works. Mathematics is the same, we would not have maths without the idea of sets, which is resolutely based in observation of the universe. The fact that we have objects which we can group together into sets is fundamental to mathematics, and we would not have such a notion if this was not reflected in nature. Whilst maths does get abstract after a point with numbers such as the square root of minus one and such, these would not be possible without basic set theory – which is grounded in the way that the universe works. Maths didn’t arise because people tapped into some primordial truth, they saw that you could categorise stones for example into discreet sets, and come up with numbers based upon how many stones you have then you can add more stones to it, take stones away divide the set into smaller sets and so on – this is how maths was born, and it’s very much rooted in the way the universe is.

    “To your last part, there’s a bigger picture here than what you’re looking at. You’re looking at it from a rejection or lack of rejection about God’s existence. It’s far greater than that. God is offering you a chance at eternal life, if you will accept His gift of grace and start loving Him. It is this gift you reject by willfully going your own way, believing you don’t need God. Friend, we all need Him.”

    But the issue is that I don’t accept the proposition that there is any gift on offer, I don’t accept that, therefore it can’t be defined in terms of me choosing to accept or reject a gift – I have reasons to doubt that there is any gift on offer at all. I don’t believe that I don’t need God – I see no reason to believe that God exists, its not a case of me thinking ‘well I don’t need God’, its a case of me doubting that there is anything there that I need.

    “You aren’t being punished for not having faith in God. For one, you’ve chosen the sentence yourself in that instance. But rather, you’re choosing to place faith in a world that is cold and cares nothing for you. And it’s a world that is in the hands of the enemy. So you’re placing your faith in what the enemy of God is offering you. That’s a rejection of life, friend. You have plenty of faith; I just think it’s time you started putting it in something meaningful.”

    I accept that which can be demonstrated as true, there is no faith required. My whole issue is that I am supposed to accept something that I have no good reason to believe. I can’t just say ‘yeah I believe it’ because that is not honest of me. It’s that I do see anything there that is to be believed in. And I have had occasions when I was younger in which I did ask that if there is a God out there he come into my life, and I asked with sincerity, eventually I realised that I wasn’t talking to anyone because no body answered. I realised that whilst it might be hard to bear, there is no reason to think that someone is looking out for me, there is no reason to think that I shall be rewarded for putting faith in something which I have no good reason to believe in.

    Marcus Aurelius once said:

    “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

    I think that sums of how I feel perfectly.

  12. I’m not going to respond to each of these points in turn. All I want to say is that it seems you are wrestling with yourself. You are so determined to believe that it can’t possibly be this way that you are willing to shirk any and all evidence, or place your standards so high so as to forcefully shut out any possibility that you may have to face the truth.

    I think any person looking at our discussion objectively, if looking at is from a trial’s perspective, would have to concede that there is reasonable doubt to your assertions. It doesn’t mean there isn’t doubt of the theist’s position, but it should at least give you pause to consider the veracity of these claims. Your unwillingness to do this suggests to me that it isn’t a rational problem you’re dealing with, it’s a heart one.

    And on that I can’t help you. That’s between you and God. It’s a personal choice that you must make; I can’t make it for you. Believe me, I wish I could. All I can do is try to nudge you in the right direction, to ask you to read the Bible for what it is and understand just who Jesus was and why there is power in those pages.

    I won’t debate you on the elements anymore, I promise. I hope that you’ll take all that I’ve said to you as a pleading to just be open to Jesus. That truth really can set you free.

    Respectfully,
    SH

  13. Doctor Bad Sign

    I am not determined not to believe, its that the evidence presented does not match up to the extraordinariness of the claim. For example, I am not completely determined to disbelieve that aliens have visited the planet Earth, however it would take a lot more than dubious eye witness accounts and vacuous documentaries on the History channel to convince me. The claim that aliens have visited our planet is quite extraordinary, and would thus require some extraordinary evidence to support it. If you showed be a living or dead alien, and it was proven not to be a hoax then I would be quite willing to believe.

    Logical arguments aren’t enough, especially if they’re flawed. Its like claiming that the pyramids could not possibly have been built given the technology of the time, therefore extraterrestrials must have done it. I don’t particularly need to pick holes in that. Logical arguments alone prove nothing. What I’m trying to say is that the claim; there is an invisible, all powerful, supernatural entity that created the universe, and subsequently made a covenant with a small tribe of Middle Eastern men, and later sent himself down in flesh to atone for the sins of mankind is about as extraordinary a claim as it is possible to make. Just as I don’t accept the kinds of evidence people put forth in favour of extraterrestrial visitation, I do not accept the kinds of evidence put forth in favour of the existence of God.

    Its not because I refuse to accept the truth, its just that in order for me to accept a given proposition, it needs to fulfil a burden of proof which is proportional to the extraordinariness of the claim. I’d be happy to accept the existence of God if that were met, but it’s not. It’s not denialism at all, I treat the claims of religion the same way as I treat the claims of astrology, telekinesis, psychic mediums, alien visitation, hauntings and so on – there just is not enough evidence for those things.

    I know I talk about religion a lot, and that is mainly because it is a formidable political force, however when I meet any claim presented as truth I have to subject it to sceptical enquiry. Some things meet their burden of proof and I have no problem accepting them, others do not. God is one of the things that I feel does not meet it’s burden of proof. That is not to say that I dogmatically reject the claim, simply that I see no reason to accept it given the current level of evidence.

    As the quote in my previous post said, if God is loving and just, then surely he can forgive me my scepticism and welcome me based upon my virtues? I try my best to be a kind, considerate, helpful and compassionate person. If God exists and does not accept me based upon that then I do not see any reason to worship such a being.

  14. Reblogged this on Cosmological Arguments and commented:
    What is your take?

  15. Pingback: The Kalam Argument | The Complete History of the Universe: A Personal Journey

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