Tag Archives: knowledge

Intellectual “Property” and Plagiarism

The following is a paper I wrote for an AP Language course that I feel, at least at this moment, summarizes my views on citations and plagiarism in general. *Note: there will be an afterword explaining my use of citations in other blog posts*    **sorry about the formatting…**

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Kalām Cosmological Argument

It has come to my attention that the version of the cosmological argument I use in my previous refutation located here, is not the version many apologetics use and thus, with new thoughts in mind I will refute the basic yet famous four point Kalām Cosmological Argument (henceforth known as “the KCA”) laid out by Dr. William Lane Craig.
The KCA goes as follows:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
  4. This cause is the God of Classical Theism, and is a personal being, because He chose to create the universe.

(there are a few subsets and I will refute those as well but first I must hit the main points)

Point 1: This first point is used as a starting to place with which to make a logical inference about our universe. What is said is, “whatever begins to exist has a cause” but this fails for a few reasons. First off, all the things we see “beginning to exist” are actually reconstructions of preexisting material thus they are not creation events in the sense of the universe. According the the common big bang model, (we will ignore multiverse models because those shatter this argument for a whole host of other reasons) there was no preexisting material from which the universe could be created, it was true creatio ex nihilo. Our day to day experiences of “creating” things cannot be applied to the universe because those are creations from existing materials whereas the universe was not created from any preexisting materials.

Second off, we actually can witness creatio ex nihilo in our universe. We witness creation of particles from nothing on the quantum realm.* These are basically equal to the creation event that occurred during the big bang and guess what? Quantum fluctuations are uncaused!** Victor Stenger says that there are “Uncaused, random quantum fluctuations…”[1], Richard Morris says, “…the idea of a First Cause sounds somewhat fishy in light of the modern theory of quantum mechanics. According to the most commonly accepted interpretation of quantum mechanics, individual subatomic particles can behave in unpredictable ways and there are numerous random, uncaused events.”[2] and as Paul Davies says, “energy can appear and disappear out of nowhere in a spontaneous and unpredictable fashion.”[2]
These quotes show that with creation events on par with that of the big bang, a first cause is not required thus shattering premise 1.

Point 2: This point seems rather intuitive but it may not be so.  We do not have a full theory of quantum gravity thus we cannot say for certain what happened in the big bang singularity nor can we say with certainty that it was in fact, the beginning. For example, loop quantum gravity, a competing theory to String Theory and M-Theory, posits that space-time itself is quantized thus meaning there would be no big bang singularity as we know it, it would be the collapse of another universe that would then expand. Granted, this may not get rid of the first cause argument but it is an interesting thing to ponder.[3] There is also a model of the universe put forward by Wun-Yi Shu which has says that the universe had no big bang, no beginning and no end.[4] Of course these are all speculative but it doesn’t rule out the possibility of a timeless universe.

Point 3: Point 3 falls under the refutations of points 1 and 2.

Point 4: Point 4 falls, is insane and contradicts the claim that there was nothing before the big bang because it says that god “chose” to create the universe which means a change from one state to another thus meaning that
a)God is not immutable since he changed from one state to another and
b)There was time “before” the big bang since time is required for change to occur.

Now I shall move on to the sub-points.
The first of which goes like this:

  1. An actual infinite cannot exist.
  2. An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite.
  3. Therefore, an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist.

To refute this point I only need to refute point one which I shall do now.

Point 1: To prove that this is false I will use two definitions both of singularities.
1: “A gravitational singularity or spacetime singularity is a location where the quantities that are used to
measure the gravitational field become infinite in a way that does not depend on the coordinate system.
These quantities are the scalar invariant curvatures of spacetime, which includes a measure of the
density of matter.”[5]
2: “A point at which a function takes an infinite value, esp. in space-time when matter is infinitely dense, as
at the center of a black hole”[6]

It seems that Dr. Craig is a couple decades behind modern physics.

Points 2 and 3: Both of these fall because they are predicated on the false idea that “actual” infinites cannot exist. *FUN FACT: Dr. Craig concedes that a singularity is an infinity! See foot note [7]*

The second sub-point goes like this:

  1. A collection formed by successive addition cannot be an actual infinite.
  2. The temporal series of past events is a collection formed by successive addition.
  3. Therefore, the temporal series of past events cannot be actually infinite.

This one I don’t have a straight forward refutation to but I am curious as to why Dr. Craig thinks premise 1 is true. If the successive addition did not stop, then, by definition, it would be an infinity, an infinite regress.

Conclusion: I find the KCA quite unconvincing for the reasons I outlined above as well as the fact that, according to Vilenkin, the universe tunneled out of “literally nothing”. I leave you with the thesis of Vilenkin’s paper.

“A cosmological model is proposed in which the universe is created by quantum tunneling from literally nothing into a de Sitter space. After the tunneling, the model evolves along the lines of the inflationary scenario. This model does not have a big-bang singularity and does not require any initial or boundary conditions.”[8]

~~Peter

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*it must be noted that this point is often contested by theists because they will say that the vacuum of space is not nothing but it really is. It is merely the lowest energy state of nothing allowed by the laws of quantum mechanics.

**here is another point of debate and even if one says they are caused, they are not caused by anything in particular, merely uncertainties in the energy of the vacuum.

For your watching pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baZUCc5m8sE
and: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQ–CbV7L-g&feature=channel_video_title
and: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_676IeyJNQ
1: Vuletic, M. (n.d.). Creation ex nihilo – without God. Secular Web: Atheism, Agnosticism, Naturalism, Skepticism and Secularism. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mark_vuletic/vacuum.html>
2: Braungardt, J. (n.d.). Vacuum Fluctuations. Jürgen Braungardt. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://www.braungardt.com/Physics/Vacuum%20Fluctuation.htm>
3: Bojowald, M. (n.d.). Big Bang or Big Bounce?: New Theory on the Universe’s Birth – Scientific American – RichardDawkins.net . – RichardDawkins.net . Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://richarddawkins.net/articles/3220-big-bang-or-big-bounce-new-theory-on-the-universe-39-s-birth>
4: Zyga, L. (n.d.). Model describes universe with no big bang, no beginning, and no end. PhysOrg.com – Science News, Technology, Physics, Nanotechnology, Space Science, Earth Science, Medicine. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://www.physorg.com/news199591806.html>
5: Gravitational singularity – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.).Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_singularity>
6: define sngularity – Google Search. (n.d.). Google. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=define+sngularity#hl=en&safe=off&q=singularity&tbs=dfn:1&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=QwtTTsvZKYfagAeZ1sgw&ved=0CBkQkQ4&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.&fp=b95580e7ebe1d466&biw=1366&bih=667>
7: See 4:00 for Craig explaining a singularity himself! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baZUCc5m8sE
8: Vilenkin, A. (n.d.). Creation of Universes From Nothing.mukto-mona.com. Retrieved August 11, 1922, from <http://www.mukto-mona.com/science/physics/a_vilinkin/universe_from_nothing.pdf>

Debunking the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

The astute reader of my blog will notice that I have debunked two big arguments for god but have neglected to mention the third. The third is known as the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God (TAG as it shall henceforth be refered to as). This argument is, as the Christian Aplogetics and Research Ministery (CARM) says,

“This is an attempt to demonstrate the existence of God using logical absolutes.  The oversimplified argument, which is expanded in outline form below, goes as follows:  Logical absolutes exist.  Logical absolutes are conceptual by nature, are not dependent on space, time, physical properties, or human nature.  They are not the product of the physical universe (space, time, matter), because if the physical universe were to disappear, logical absolutes would still be true.  Logical Absolutes are not the product of human minds, because human minds are different, not absolute.  But, since logical absolutes are always true everywhere, and not dependent upon human minds, it must be an absolute transcendent mind that is authoring them. This mind is called God.”1
Of course I could point out a number of flaws in the paragraph above but I fail to see the need to since most of the above will be outlined in the argument itself. **Let it be noted that I have taken some of the finer points out as to keep this post short but I shall still refute them. If you wish the read the argument in it’s entirety please see foot note 1.**
 
The argument:
 
  1. Logical Absolutes
    1. Law of Identity
    2. Law of Non-Contradiction
    3. Law of Excluded Middle (LEM) 
  2. Logical absolutes are truth statements such as:
    1. That which exists has attributes and a nature.
    2. Something cannot be itself and not itself at the same time.
    3. Something cannot bring itself into existence.
    4. Truth is not self-contradictory.
    5. Therefore, Logical Absolutes are absolutely true.  They are not subjectively true; that is, they are not sometimes true and sometimes false, depending on preference or situation.  Otherwise, they would not be absolute.
  3. Logical Absolutes form the basis of rational discourse.
    1. If the Logical Absolutes are not absolute, then truth cannot be known.
    2. If the Logical Absolutes are not absolute, then no rational discourse can occur.
    3. If Logical Absolutes are not always true, then it might be true that something can contradict itself, which would make truth unknowable and rational discourse impossible.  But, saying that something can contradict itself can’t be true.
    4. But since we know things are true (I exist, you are reading this), then we can conclude that logical statements are true.  Otherwise, we would not be able to rationally discuss or know truth.
    5. If they are not the basis of rational discourse, then we cannot know truth or error since the laws that govern rationality are not absolute.  This would allow people to speak irrationally, i.e., blue sleeps faster than Wednesday.
  4. Logical Absolutes are transcendent.
    1. Logical Absolutes are not dependent on space.
    2. Logical Absolutes are not dependent on time.
    3. Logical Absolutes are not dependent on people.  That is, they are not the product of human thinking.
  5. Logical Absolutes are not dependent on the material world.
    1. Logical Absolutes are not found in atoms, motion, heat, under rocks, etc.
    2. Logical Absolutes cannot be photographed, frozen, weighed, or measured.
    3. Logical Absolutes are not the product of the physical universe, since that would mean they were contingent on atoms, motion, heat, etc., and that their nature was dependent on physical existence.
    4. But, if the universe did not exist, logical absolutes are still true. 
  6. Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature.
    1. Logic is a process of the mind.  Logical absolutes provide the framework for logical thought processes.  Therefore, Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature.
    2. Expanded:  Logical absolutes are either conceptual by nature or they are not.
  7. Thoughts reflect the mind
    1. A person’s thoughts reflect what he or she is.
    2. Absolutely perfect thoughts reflect an absolutely perfect mind.
    3. Since the Logical Absolutes are transcendent, absolute, are perfectly consistent, and are independent of the universe, then they reflect a transcendent, absolute, perfect, and independent mind.
    4. We call this transcendent, absolute, perfect, and independent mind God.
The way I plan to do this is the points I have an objection with I will copy like this: and refute them here.

That which exists has attributes and a nature: While I agree this is true, the question regarding the nature of god is raised. In the example given by CARM is that “a cloud exists and has the attributes of whiteness, vapor, ect. It has the nature of water and air” . The key thing regarding this is that the way in which the word nature is used. It reflects the definition that states “the elements of the natural world”2 thus meaning that if god were to exist, according to CARM’s own argument, he must be made up of physical elements or things since that is how nature is used and what it means.
Truth is not self contradictory: While I agree with this premise as well it eliminates the Bible as being the truth. The reason this is so, is because truth must not be self contradictory meaning that for the Bible to be true it must not have any internal contradictions. **Here one could say that this only refers to a saying such as “you are reading this and not reading this at the same time”1 but if one goes by the definition of self-contradiction which is “contradiction of oneself or itself”3  we can see that for the Bible to be true it must not contradict itself. ***In some rare quantum cases this can be broken, see bellow***

If the Logical Absolutes are not absolute, then no rational discourse can occur: I would say that logical absolutes cannot be not absolute (in the same universe that is). To prove this I will use the three logical absolutes given above. The first one, the law of identity says that something is what it is and isn’t what it isn’t. There is no way for this to be false. If a cloud is a cloud is is not not a cloud. If a cloud is not a cloud it is not a cloud and it is something else. There is no amount of semantical word play that can be done where one can conclude that a cloud is not a cloud and is a cloud. With point 1 there is no need to worry about it ever not being absolute. Let’s look at number 2, the law of non-contradiction. This is that something cannot be true and false at the same time in the same sense. This cannot and will not be broken regardless of what anyone does. True and false in the same sense are mutually exclusive and thus there is no need to worry about this one either. The third is basically the same saying that a true/false statement cannot be somewhat true/somewhat false. This again cannot be conceivably broken since true and false are discrete values. They are not in a continuum and thus there is no fear that this one will be broken either. But even if they could be, rational discourse could still occur. One could talk about sports, or the weather, or family life. All this could still occur but there would be a chance it would get odd. One can still engage in rational discourse even if someone is contradicting themselves. Rational discourse is merely successful communication and that can still be achieved.

If Logical Absolutes are not always true, then it might be true that something can contradict itself, which would make truth unknowable and rational discourse impossible.  But, saying that something can contradict itself can’t be true: All this is is a big what if statement. What if things don’t contradict themselves? Then truth can still be known. This premise is pretty baseless and it is also ignoring the point that somethings can contradict themselves whist still being true. For example, let’s look at light. There are mountains of data that shows that light is a wave but when one looks at it through the lens of the photoelectric effect it appears as a particle. This is in direct contradiction but both are true. The truth about light contradicts itself, some data show it is a particle whereas others show it is a wave but one can easily say it is either a particle or a wave. This point falls.

But since we know things are true (I exist, you are reading this), then we can conclude that logical statements are true.  Otherwise, we would not be able to rationally discuss or know truth: This too is a flawed premise. I do not know you exist and you do not know I exist. I do not know anyone exists and you do not know anyone else exists. If one takes a look at the solipsist point of view one can see that the only thing that is sure to exist is ones own mind thus we do not know things are true. We must make assumptions to start off thus this premise is false.

If they are not the basis of rational discourse, then we cannot know truth or error since the laws that govern rationality are not absolute.  This would allow people to speak irrationally, i.e., blue sleeps faster than Wednesday: How can truth not be known? As I have shown above, even if it is possible for the aforementioned logical absolutes to be broke, things can still not contradict themselves thus truth can be known. But again, somethings can contradict themselves and still be true as is the case with light.

Here I will lump together all the contingency arguments: The claim is made that these logical absolutes are not contingent on anything (natural that is) and thus if the universe just ceased to exist these logical absolutes would still be there. From the outside this may seem like a sound argument but I assure you that it is not. The logical absolutes are not dictating the way the universe must behave (which is what they would be doing if they were not contingent upon the universe), instead they are merely describing interactions in our universe. Since they are describing actions in our universe they are contingent upon it since if the Universe ceased to be, these logical absolutes may not still be true. It may be hard to grasp that the Law of Non-Contradiction may not hold true at a time, but asserting that it will always hold true, even in a universe with vastly different interactions is taking a huge leap of faith. The burden is now on the proponent of this argument to prove that these would hold true in every possible form of universe (which is of course impossible to prove since we have not observed even one other universe).

Here I would also like to quote Michael Martin, a man who proposed the TANG. The Transcendental Argument for the Non-Existence of God. Martin has the following to say on logical absolutes being contingent upon god:

“Consider logic. Logic presupposes that its principles are necessarily true. However, according to the brand of Christianity assumed by TAG, God created everything, including logic; or at least everything, including logic, is dependent on God. But if something is created by or is dependent on God, it is not necessary–it is contingent on God. And if principles of logic are contingent on God, they are not logically necessary. Moreover, if principles of logic are contingent on God, God could change them. Thus, God could make the law of non-contradiction false; in other words, God could arrange matters so that a proposition and its negation were true at the same time. But this is absurd. How could God arrange matters so that New Zealand is south of China and that New Zealand is not south of it? So, one must conclude that logic is not dependent on God, and, insofar as the Christian world view assumes that logic so dependent, it is false.4

The above statement is showing that the TAG necessitates logic be contingent upon god which just doesn’t fit with what logic is. **Here one could argue that previously I said that logic was contingent upon the universe yet here I say that logic cannot be contingent upon anything. Contradiction? No. As stated above, logic is used to describe the universe thus if there is no universe, there is nothing to describe thus logic ceases to be. Logic is only necessarily true in a universe.**

The final objection I want to make before I end this all is to the claim that says A mind that is irrational, will produce irrational thoughts, A mind that is rational, will produce rational thoughts: This is not necessarily true. But before I show why it is not I must expose the assumption being made. The assumption that is being made here is that humans are irrational which is not true at all. Irrational is defined as “without or deprived of normal mental clarity or sound judgment”5 thus if humans have normal mental clarity or can make sound judgments, they are not irrational. All one has to do to prove that humans are not irrational is to talk to a few of them.
Now that we have shoved this assumption aside let’s look that the points being said. It is said that an irrational mind will produce irrational thoughts but this is simply false. Even if one ignores the above argument and asserts that humans are irrational, this premise would mean that the equations describing gravity are irrational. The equations describing electromagnetism are irrational ectectect but we know this is not the case because if it were we would not be able to plot amazingly accurate trajectories of rockets or be able to even view something on a computer. This alone proves that “irrational minds” can produce rational thoughts.

Conclusion: The conclusion that CARM draws is, obviously, that god made the logical absolutes!! This is, of course, false seeing as a) a thing creating logic undermines logic and b) logical absolutes need no creator, they are merely descriptions of the universe.


~~Peter


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1: Slick, M. (n.d.). The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God | Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry . CARM – Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. Retrieved June 22, 2011, from http://carm.org/transcendental-argument


2: Nature. (n.d.). Dictionary.com. Retrieved June 22, 2011, from dictionary.reference.com/browse/nature


3: Self-Contradiction – Definition of self-contradiction at YourDictionary.com. (n.d.).Dictionary and Thesaurus – Free Online at Your Dictionary. Retrieved June 22, 2011, from http://www.yourdictionary.com/self-contradiction


4: Martin, Michael . “The Transcendental Argument for the Nonexistence of God.”Secular Web: Atheism, Agnosticism, Naturalism, Skepticism and Secularism. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 June 2011. <http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/martin-frame/tang.html>.


5: “Irrational .” Dictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 June 2011. <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/irrational>