Tag Archives: theology

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>

That pesky cosmological argument

Doesn’t everyone hate the cosmological argument? Amiright? (My attempt at humor) But in all seriousness I find this argument to not only be stupid, but also waste of time to refute. Nevertheless,  seeing as I do in fact have time to waste, I shall refute it.


The cosmological argument goes something like this:

 

  • Things exist.

 

 

  • It is possible for those things to not exist.

 

 

  • Whatever has the possibility of non existence, yet exists, has been caused to exist.
    1. Something cannot bring itself into existence, since it must exist to bring itself into existence, which is illogical.

 

 

  • There cannot be an infinite number of causes to bring something into existence.
    1. An infinite regression of causes ultimately has no initial cause, which means there is no cause of existence.
    2. Since the universe exists, it must have a cause.

 

 

  • Therefore, there must be an uncaused cause of all things.

 

 

  • The uncaused cause must be God. [1]

 

Fist off let me state that this form of the argument is found on the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. This is “legit” if you will.



Point 1: Things exist. I agree. This claim is all good.
Point 2: It is possible for these things not to exist. ehhhhhh one could disagree and there would be perfectly valid arguments against this but I will give our friend Matt Slick (the author of the page on CARM) the benefit of the doubt and agree. This one is fine.
Point 3: Whatever has the possibility of non existence, yet exists, has been caused to exist. Now this is what I take offence to. This statement is down right false. Things that begin to exist often do have a cause but that doesn’t mean they all do. Take fluctuations on the quantum level for example. Quantum fluctuations are completely random, uncaused events.
“…Uncaused, random quantum fluctuations in a flat, empty, featureless spacetime can produce local regions with positive or negative curvature. …” ~~Victor Stenger [2]

Keeping this in mind we can see that the assertion that what begins to exist must have a cause is not only false but is down right deceitful. Uncaused events happen all the time and thus the main premise of this argument falls.

Point 4: There cannot be an infinite number of causes to bring something into existence. This is a fair assertion.
Point 5: Therefore there must be an uncaused cause of all things. Yes, that uncaused cause is either the universe bring itself into existence (in a way) which is not illogical because before time there is no cause and effect thus the universe can arise by itself, (I refer you to my previous post called The God before time? Why not the universe before time? )  or quantum fluctuations can be the uncaused cause. But let’s see what the final assertion that is made is…..
Point 6: The uncaused cause must be God! ……… really? I beg to differ. As suggested by the post above as well as the fact that quantum fluctuations can create a universe, why are we asserting that god is the uncaused cause?

“Once our minds accept the mutability of matter and the new idea of the vacuum, we can speculate on the origin of the biggest thing we know—the universe. Maybe the universe itself sprang into existence out of nothingness—a gigantic vacuum fluctuation which we know today as the big bang. Remarkably, the laws of modern physics allow for this possibility.” ~~Pagels [2]

Thus we can see that our current, highly successful model of the universe allows matter to be created from nothing, uncaused without invoking god as well as the fact that there is good evidence to suggest that our universe could be a fluctuation one can see that this argument falls.

In conclusion, the main assumption that this argument rests on is provably false and to be honest, I don’t understand why people still use it.

~~Peter

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Further reading and footnotes:

http://www.braungardt.com/Physics/Vacuum%20Fluctuation.htm
http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/ast123/lectures/lec17.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo

1: http://carm.org/cosmological-argument
2: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mark_vuletic/vacuum.html