The Course of Reason

Your Intuitions About Cosmology Are Probably Unreliable, William Lane Craig

February 19, 2013

William Lane Craig and his friends really like the Kalam Cosmological Argument, or the argument from the first cause. The argument means to establish that there must be a transcendent first cause of the universe, which wouldn’t you know it, must be Jesus (or Allah, according to the original Muslim version.) Here is the argument, as Craig presents it in church.

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Craig likes this argument because it is so easy to remember and share with a friend (i.e. proselytize with), and it is logically airtight: if the premises are true, the conclusion is guaranteed to be true. As you might expect, Craig relies on big bang cosmology to establish premise 2. In defending premise 1, Craig appeals to intuitions about how spacetime works. He thinks it is so obvious that any sincere seeker of truth can’t honestly deny it. I’ll present a Good Reason to suspect that our intuitions about the early universe are unreliable. 

William Lane Craig

Craig, at a podium, wearing a tie.

Here’s his defense of premise 1:

1. Something can’t come from nothing. (To believe otherwise is “worse than magic.”)

2. If something can come from nothing, then it’s inexplicable why everything or anything doesn’t come from nothing. (Why don’t we see horses or root beer regularly popping into existence from nothingness?)

3. Common experience and scientific evidence confirm this premise.

Note that his defense of premise 1 is not a deductive argument, but rather a series of intuitively appealing reasons meant to add up to support for the premise as a whole. There’s nothing wrong with this approach in general, but in the context of causation in the early universe, I think we have a Good Reason to doubt our intuitions.

McDivitt space walking.  Como un jefe.

Jim McDivitt space walking. Como un jefe. Text reads, “The surface of Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. From it we have learned most of what we know. Recently, we have waded out to sea, enough to dampen our toes, or at most, wet our ankles. The water seems inviting. The ocean calls. Some part of our being knows this is from where we came. We long to return.” The quote, of course, is from Carl Sagan.  We miss you, Carl.

My Good Reason comes from early NASA experiences, in which our intuitions about movement through space were thoroughly bumblefucked. To illustrate the unreliability of our intuitions, I’ll construct an argument based on them, and then through my NASA story, explain how the argument is flawed.

1. If object A and object B are traveling in the same direction, with A slightly behind B, and A is accelerating faster than B, then A will eventually catch and surpass B.

2. Gemini 4 and Titan rocket are traveling the same direction, with Gemini 4 slightly behind Titan rocket.

3. If Gemini 4 accelerates faster than Titan rocket, then Gemini 4 will eventually catch and surpass Titan rocket.

4. Gemini 4 accelerates faster than Titan rocket.

5. Therefore, Gemini 4 will eventually catch and surpass Titan rocket.

This is exactly how NASA engineers and the astronauts Jim McDivitt and Ed White reasoned. It makes perfect intuitive sense: to believe that an object could accelerate faster than another and yet fail to catch up to it is worse than magic! It is like something out of Looney Tunes. If it were possible, then why don’t we have cars jockeying to move the slowest in NASCAR, lest they accelerate too much and fall behind? Furthermore, common experience and scientific evidence confirm the premise that an object accelerating faster than another, on the same path, will eventually surpass the other. This premise has been put to use since the very earliest of hunting technology, when the cavemen got sharp stones to move faster than deer.

So you see, all of the intuitions Craig offers in support of his premise can also be offered in support of the premise NASA engineers were assuming.

But then, something weird happens. NASA failed its objectives for Gemini 4, which included docking with the Titan rocket in orbit. As Jim McDivitt accelerated Gemini 4, it fell further and further behind Vostok 5! The NASA engineers couldn’t believe it. It was like some sort of magic, or Looney Tunes physics! Their intuitions were dead wrong about something so simple and obvious as moving one object faster than another through space. And these were really smart folks, literally rocket scientists. 

Orbital mechanics diagram and math.

“This is too complicated.  Let’s just wing it!” said no aeronautical engineer at NASA ever, despite the punning opportunity.

If you were an apologist pre-Gemini 4, basing an argument for God on the intuition that the faster accelerating object will eventually catch the slower one, you’d have good intuitive support. But you’d be wrong, when in the context of planetary orbit.

In the context of planetary orbit, accelerating has the effect of putting an object into a higher orbit, because it moves farther horizontally relative to its vertical descent around the planet, which has the effect of slowing its descent, relative to a non-accelerating object. So, when Gemini 4 accelerated toward Vostok 5, it went into a higher orbit, and due to its higher orbit and the conservation of momentum, it slowed down relative to the Titan rocket, which just stayed at its lower and faster orbit. Much to the chagrin of Gene Kranz (played by Ed Harris in Apollo 13) and astronaut Jim McDivitt, the faster McDivitt accelerated forward, the faster he went in reverse, relative to the Titan rocket. It was really freaking weird, but it really happened.

What does this have to do with the cosmological argument? Recall that Craig bases his support for premise 1 on our intuitions about the causal rules of spacetime in the early universe. I have just shown how devastatingly wrong our intuitions can be about much much simpler causal rules of spacetime, much closer to earth. Given how wrong our intuitions were about orbital mechanics, and how much simpler orbital mechanics are than early spacetime cosmology, we should not expect our intuitions about early spacetime cosmology to be very reliable. Thus, appealing to those intuitions in defense of the cosmological argument does not offer very good support for the argument’s first premise.

Looney Tunes physics.

According to Craig’s intuition, the spacecraft should orbit the earth in a large rectangle, with each vertex depending on the astronauts’ sudden realization that they are falling around the earth. Source.

This argument undermines the support Craig offers for premise 1, and so makes it less plausible in the context of the early universe, where weird things in the Singularity were sure to happen.

Thanks, NASA, for showing how unreliable our intuitions are about how the universe works!

 

 

About the Author: Seth Kurtenbach

Seth Kurtenbach's photo
Seth Kurtenbach is pursuing his PhD in computer science at the University of Missouri. His current research focuses on the application of formal logic to questions about knowledge and rationality. He has his Master's degree in philosophy from the University of Missouri, and is growing an epic beard in order to maintain his philosophical powers. You can email Seth at Seth.Kurtenbach@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter: @SJKur.

Comments:

#1 Ron Hawkins (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 8:12am

Fascinating stuff. But I don't think you even have to put that much effort into exposing the logical weakness of the argument. If a deity created the universe, what caused the deity to exist? I'm guessing the response would be something like, "God always has existed and always will." If so, one might as well just save a step and say that the universe always has existed and always will, going through endless cycles of expansion and collapse. I don't understand how it is that so many people find the argument from ignorance/god of the gaps approach more intellectually satisfying than the more honest - and humble - answer to so many of our most challenging questions: I don't know. (But let's try to find out.)

#2 sethkurtenbach (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 8:59am

Hey Ron,

Thanks for the response! By hypothesis, the deity in question is an eternal being, so it is not a thing that began to exist. Thus, it need not have a cause. We might be hesitant to simply "save a step" and say that the universe itself has always existed, through oscillating series of bangs and crunches, because as far as I know there's evidence of only one big bang, which will never eventually crunch, and we want to make sure we're intellectually honest.

So, I think the argument fails because we have no reason to think our intuitions really justify premise 1. This is also the premise Lawrence Krauss attacks in his lecture and book, "A Universe From Nothing".

#3 Zach VanNatta (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 11:06am

lol, I agree with Ron. If one supposes there is an eternal being that is without beginning, then there's no reason for him to draw the arbitrary distinction and contrarily demand the universe has a beginning.

As far as we know, existence can exist just by existing. We have found no reason [yet] why the universe should not have always existed; nor is there much to reason why the universe could not have simply come into existence without cause. I think Bertrand Russell summed it up quite nicely, saying that believing in a beginning for everything is a result of the "poverty of [human] imagination."

All that aside, I think it can be agreed that the First cause argument is a silly argument. ;)

#4 sethkurtenbach (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 11:28am

Well, I defer to the relative consensus among cosmologists, who think that the universe did have a beginning approximately 13.7 billion years ago.

Bertrand Russell made that comment before Hubble's discovery that the universe's expansion is accelerating, and all of the ensuing evidence gathered in favor of the big bang.

#5 Sam (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 11:28am

Ron, Zach, I agree with Seth. Thinking there's an eternal being without a beginning doesn't remove all reasons for thinking the universe had a beginning, and it doesn't make the distinction arbitrary. The reasons for thinking the universe had a beginning may not apply to God. For example, one of the reasons for thinking the universe had a beginning is the big bang, but unless you can argue that God is also expanding, that does not serve as a reason to think God had a beginning. So it's not arbitrary to say the universe had a beginning but God did not.

Showing that one thing has a beginning is not enough to say that everything else must also have a beginning. And showing that one thing does not have a beginning is not enough to say that some other thing does not have a beginning. So the beginning of the universe does not entail a beginning of God. And the beginninglessness of God does not remove the warrant we have for thinking the universe had a beginning.

There are non-arbitrary reasons to think the universe had a beginning and the cause of the universe did not.

#6 lordshipmayhem (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 11:35am

Minor quibble: Gemini 4 was trying to dock with a Titan second stage. They were also trying to break Vostok 5's endurance record.

Vostok 5 was a manned Russian mission.

#7 sethkurtenbach (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 11:37am

Ah crap, you're right. Thanks your lordship.

#8 Ron Hawkins (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 11:57am

For the record, I was *not* endorsing the "eternal universe" argument, just suggesting that assuming the existence of a cause-less god gets us nowhere that any number of other conjectures - including, say, a cause-less universe - does not.

In addition, of course, even if we were to accept it, the Kalam argument reveals as little about theology as it does about cosmology. It is simple to think of a wide variety of forms that a creator might take - kind, malicious, bored, ironic, disinterested, autonomic, etc. - and expectations that he/she/it might have for the sentient members of said creation. The Who released a song in 2006 about God creating the universe in order to hear Marty Robbins sing. Seems no less plausible than any of the more popular creation myths.

#9 Sam (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 12:17pm

Seth,

I don't think it's enough to show that our intuitions can be mistaken in one area in order to call into question everything else our intuitions tell us. There are different kinds of intuitive knowledge, and some is more certain than others. There are some things we can know with absolute certainty by intuition, and other things it's possible to be wrong about.

I usually break intuitive knowledge up into three categories--knowledge about ourselves, rational knowledge about external reality, and synthetic a priori knowledge.

Knowledge of the self include our knowledge that we're thinking, what we're thinking, what we're feeling, that we exist, etc. We have immediate knowledge of our own mental states. If you're thinking of a number between one and ten, then you can know immediately (i.e. non-inferentially) what number you're thinking of. You know it directly. And, you know it with certainty. You are also immediately aware of your sensory perceptions. Now, it's possible to be mistaken about what your senses are telling you (you could be dreaming or plugged into the matrix), but it's not possible to be mistaken that you are perceiving. You know that simply because you're perceiving.

We also have knowledge about how things work outside of us. We know necessary truths, such as the truths of basic math, geometry, and the laws of logic. We know there are no cubical cubes anywhere in existence because it's a contradiction in terms. We know that when straight lines intersect, opposite angles are equal. We know that 2_2=4. We know that the law of non-contradiction is true. These are also things we can know with certainty. That's not to say that everybody knows them equally. Some people can't understand them. But to understand them is to know them. They just require a rational "seeing" that they are true. For those who "see" these things, they can be known with absolute certainty.

The third category contains all the intuitive knowledge that it's possible for us to be wrong about but it nevertheless prima facie more reasonable to affirm than to deny unless you are given good reason to think you're mistaken. It includes the knowledge that our senses are giving us true information about an external world that actually exists. Strictly speaking, it's possible we're plugged into the matrix or that all of this sensory input exists solely in the mind without anything external corresponding to it. But just because it's possible doesn't mean it's reasonable to believe. Without this knowledge, our senses could give us no information about the external world. We would be left with solipsism.

It also includes the knowledge that our memories are giving us true information about a past that actually happened. Strictly speaking, it's possible that we were all created five minutes ago complete with memories of a past that didn't actually happen. We wouldn't know the difference. But mere possibility is not enough to make doubt reasonable. We rely on our memories continuously. Whenever you speak sentences to people, the end of your sentence only makes sense because you remember how the sentence began, and you remember what you were talking about. You can know what you had for breakfast merely by remembering it.

Now, with these two examples, there's no doubt that our intuitive knowledge in this area can lead us astray sometimes. We can be mistaken about what our senses tell us. We can have dreams, hallucinations, mirages, etc. But the fact that we are sometimes mistaken about what our senses tell us is not enough to justify doubt that the entire external world is illusion. It's not even enough to justify doubt that our senses are reliable most of the time.

In the same way, just because our memories can fool us sometimes, it doesn't mean there isn't a real past, and it doesn't mean we can't trust our memories most of the time. In fact, it would be well nigh impossible to live if we didn't rely on our memories. We couldn't complete a single sentence our thought.

There is also the knowledge of the uniformity of nature. This is the assumption that nature behaves the same way when we're not looking at it as it does when we are looking at it. It's what allows us to extrapolate from what we have experienced in the past to what we should expect to experience in the future. The whole scientific method is based on this assumption. Without it, nothing that goes on in the lab would have any relevance to what goes on outside the lab. It would be impossible to learn anything from experience. Just because fire has burned us every time we've touched it in the past wouldn't mean that fire is going to burn us the next time we touch it.

What all of our items of intuitive knowledge have in common is that none of them can be proved or demonstrated without begging the question. Take the uniformity of nature, for example. You might point to the successes of science to prove that it's reliable, but that is begging the question because you're assuming that the past successes of science is a good reason to think the principle will be true from here on out. So you're assuming the very thing you're trying to prove.

And in the case of the reliability of our senses, you might say that if you have other people agreeing with what you are percieving, that's good reason to think you're both perceiving something real. But that assumes your senses are reliable when you see the other person and hear the other person tell you what they saw. So you're assuming the very thing you're trying to prove.

And with the laws of logic, they cannot be proved. Rather, they must be assumed before anything else can be proved.

Since none of these things can be known by inferring them from something prior, the only way to know them is through intuition--that is, immediate knowledge upon reflection. But clearly if we could not count on our intuitive knowledge, then knowledge would be impossible. Most of the things we know, we know because of something else we know. But if we had to infer everything we know from something prior, then that would lead to an infinite regress, in which case knowledge would be impossible. So the only way knowledge is possible is if it rests on foundational items of knowledge that are not inferred from anything prior. That is our intuitive knowledge.

Your illustration does not do much to undermine the first premise because you're attempting to cast dispersions on intuitive knowledge by showing that one item of intuitive belief is mistaken. But that would be like saying that because your memory gave you false information in one occasion, that therefore we can no longer trust that 2+2=4, that the external world exists, or that the laws of logic are valid tools for reasoning. But that is clearly absurd. The fact that Nasa was mistaken in its assumptions of our the acceleration of satellites ought to affect their relative location is no reason at all to doubt the first premise in Kalam. They're distinct issues.

An important question in considering the first premise, though, is to figure out which category of intuitive knowledge it belongs in. It obviously doesn't belong to the first category because it's not a truth about the content of our own minds. If it's true, it applies to what goes on outside of our minds. So it's either the first or second.

With all the items in the third category, it's obvious that it's possible for each one to be false. It's possible that the external world doesn't exist. It's possible that the past doesn't exist. It's possible that the future will not resemble the past, etc. But I think if you really reflect on the notion of something spontaneously coming into existence uncaused out of absolutely nothing, it's not like the past, the external world, or the resemblance of the future to the past. When I reflect on it, it strikes me as being impossible. I would put it in the second category.

I suspect the reason it's not obvious to everybody is because not everybody can grasp it just by reflecting on it. It's kind of like the Pythagorean theorem. Many people learn the Pythagorean theorem in grade school. They just take their teacher's word for it, memorize it, and use it to solve geometry problems. They never "see" why it's a necessary truth; they just believe it's true because it works and because the entire mathematical community believes it.

Other people can rationally grasp, just by introspection, why the Pythagorean theorem must be true. It's possible to get other people to "see" it, though. You can draw a series of triangles and apply math to show why it must be true. Once a person "sees" it, then from that point on, they will know it for a certainty, and they'll know it applies to all right triangles.

In the same way, there are thought experiments that can help people to "see" that it's impossible for something to spontaneously come into existence uncaused out of nothing. That's what Craig's second defense is meant to do--the one about horses and root beer. It doesn't prove the premise; it just tries to get you to "see" that it's true.

Another way is to consider the fact that if something could come into existence from nothing without a cause, then there would be some probability attached to it. But probability is determined by initial conditions. However, if something comes into existence from nothing, then there are no initial conditions to determine what the probability is. "Nothing" has no properties, because the very meaning of existence is the having of properties. Since there cannot be any probability of something coming into existence uncaused out of nothing, then it's not even possible.

#10 Sam (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 12:21pm

Ron, it's no weakness in the cosmological argument that it doesn't tell us everything there is to know about the cause of the universe. Although we might like to know more, the argument tells us whatever is in the conclusion. It doesn't even try to go beyond that. But it is no small thing to arrive at the conclusion that the universe was created by a spaceless, timeless, immaterial, and very powerful person, which is the conclusion Craig comes to at the end of it.

#11 Sam (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 12:23pm

"We know there are no cubical cubes anywhere in existence because it's a contradiction in terms."

Woops! I meant to say "cubical spheres." But you knew what I meant, right?

#12 Zach VanNatta (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 1:00pm

@Seth: No, you are completely right. What I was thinking as I wrote that, and failed to communicate, is anything that we could imagine (or might not be able to imagine) existing previous to or outside of the big bang beginning. E.G., the universe oscillation idea you have mentioned. It was conservative hedging on my part knowing that we can always make new discoveries about our universe's beginning or possible nonbeginning.

@Sam: This issue I have is that one is needlessly lopping off the cause one iteration deep after an existence's beginning. Who's to say that in truth there exists a cause's cause or even a cause of the cause's cause to ad infinitum (in one direction), OR (in the reverse direction) there is simply is no cause of the beginning of the universe in the first place!

It is far too convenient to declare the universe has a beginning, thus a cause and that cause is simply singular and beginningless. Even if you go 50 iterations deep and then declare that cause to be the true beginningless entity, it's nonsense. The only reason you would want to come to the conclusion is if you would like to prove something about that one and beginningless entity.

Am I making a lick of sense, or am I completely full of hot air?

#13 Zach VanNatta (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 1:12pm

My only quip to that brilliant post, Sam,

"Knowledge of the self include our knowledge that we're thinking, what we're thinking, what we're feeling, that we exist, etc. We have immediate knowledge of our own mental states."

I would say that is all true with the exception of my most recent ex-boyfriend. I don't think he ever knew what he was thinking. :P

#14 Guy (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 1:20pm

I'm not sure why we need to avoid saying "we don't know".
1. Every thing we KNOW to begin has a cause, but we don't know how the universe, or anything like a universe, begins.
2. We don't KNOW that the universe began. THEThe big bang theory gives a model of the universe's CURRENT expansion from a hot, dense state. There is no reason to refer to these starting conditions of the big bang model as "THE beginning of the universe".
The two premises are, in truth, two intuitive assumptions without anything near a rigorous basis. The "conclusion" is, therefore, just a follow-up assumption.

#15 Sam (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 1:48pm

Zach, I have a couple of things to say about the possibility that the cause of the universe had a cause, and that there could've been a long series of causes leading up to the beginning of the universe.

First, the universe, as defined in Kalam, is the sum total of all space, time, and energy. Whatever caused the universe, then, must be spaceless, timeless, and immaterial. If it is timeless, then it could not have been the effect of something prior, because there WAS nothing prior. If it is timeless, then it is also beginningless. Change is not possible in a state of timelessness.

Second, let's suppose there is a chain of static causes in a state of timelessness. For example, imagine a stack of books existing in a state of timelessness (not that it's possible, but work with me here!). Although the books aren't in motion, the book at the top is caused to remain there by the book directly beneath it. And that book is caused to remain where it is by the booth directly beneath IT.

So you might say that the cause of the universe is something like that. It's the "book at the top." But even in this case, there couldn't have been an infinite regress of causes leading up to the cause of the universe. One of Craig's arguments for the second premise is based on the impossibility of an actual infinite. If an actual infinite collection is impossible, then it's impossible for the series of causes leading up to the cause of the universe to be actually infinite or beginningless. There had to be an uncaused first cause.

That is the argument Thomas Aquinas gave in his "second way" of demonstrating the existence of God. His argument didn't depend on temporal sequence like Craig's does.

#16 Jeremy (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 1:53pm

While a great explanation, I don't see it as necessarily different from showing how humans have been historically wrong about the sciences based on intuitive thinking. Earth revolving around the sun, world being flat, etc. This type of enlightenment can be effective in a sense, but doesn't necessarily undermine the cosmological argument being made.

The problem with the argument he makes is simply that his first 2 premises are not necessarily true, and the conclusion itself does not inform a premise of God.

@1: Everything that exists does not necessarily have a cause. This even includes the starting material to the Big Bang. Our theories of conservation of matter and energy roundly deny the idea of them "beginning".

@2: The universe AS WE KNOW IT began to exist. That does not mean that the universe that we know entails all that there is, or that nothing preceded it. There is as of yet NO reason to believe that there was nothing before the Big Bang.

@3: The ultimate conclusion does not follow... there are many possible conclusions that can be reached based on this conclusion as a premise. To pose an example, perhaps the Big Bang was caused by a war between space giants who detonated what amounts to an atomic universe bomb, eradicating themselves, and thus creating our current universe. Ridiculous? In an infinite universe, less ridiculous than a magic man in the sky. The more ridiculous thought is that this particular universe (as we know it) is the first and only universe to ever exist.

The problem that many people with a colloquial understanding of the Big Bang have is that they cannot grasp its argument the way that more learned folks do. They do not think of how space and time are inextricably linked. They do not see how time is merely a unit of measurement for space-behavior. They think of time as a static concept that always ticks away. It is not relative. Time passes in space the same way it passes here on earth. With this kind of thinking, it is IMPOSSIBLE to understand the Big Bang theory.

There is no way to substantiate any ideas of what came "before" the Big Bang, but I find it helpful to present the numerous possibilities for the creation of our KNOWN universe, rather than necessarily depending upon abstract conceptions of spacetime that are unintuitive. I think Seth's analogy is a great way to demonstrate how that intuition can be flawed, but I believe a holistic argument that acknowledges the MANY possible ways that the universe could begin without a God is a stronger response to the argument.

#17 Sam (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 2:01pm

Guy, big bang cosmology is not the only reason to think the first premise is true. There are actually several reasons for it, many of which are philosophical. Craig typically gives four reasons for it: (1) the argument from big bang cosmology, (2) the argument from the second law of thermodynamics, (3) the argument from the impossibility of an actual infinite, and (4) the argument from the impossibility of forming an actual infinite by successive addition. To add to those, there's also (5) the argument from the grim reaper paradox, and (6) the argument from borrowers and lenders.

#18 Hugh (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 2:18pm

"It is far too convenient to declare the universe has a beginning, thus a cause and that cause is simply singular and beginningless. Even if you go 50 iterations deep and then declare that cause to be the true beginningless entity, it's nonsense. The only reason you would want to come to the conclusion is if you would like to prove something about that one and beginningless entity."

Zach, defenders of the KCA aren't just choosing to stop because it's convenient. The thing think about is that the 'universe' includes all space and time, and "beginning" is temporally dependent, so whatever existed sans the universe *has* to be an eternal, uncaused thing.

#19 Sam (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 2:24pm

"Guy, big bang cosmology is not the only reason to think the first premise is true."

The second premise, I mean.

#20 Guy (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 2:30pm

Sam, arguments of "impossibility of inifinites" are laden with assumptions which we have no basis to assume. first and foremost due to the fact that they run into trouble when assuming a temporal succession. when you DON'T REALLY KNOW there was a continuous time dimension to reference throughout these events, you are making a false extrapolation. Craig is basically making an enormous argument from ignorance- "I can't describe a cause to the universe, but I CAN describe a cause to things around me, therefore the cause was the biblical father of Jesus."
so-
1. my previous comment was about why this is a non-sequitor
2. seriously, what does ANY part of thermodynamics have to do with undescribable events that may or may not give rise to space, time and energy?
3 and 4. is what I replied to in this comment
5 and 6. i don't know what these are and would ask they same question I raised in response to 2.

#21 Sam (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 2:57pm

Guy,

"Sam, arguments of "impossibility of inifinites" are laden with assumptions which we have no basis to assume."

Like what?

"first and foremost due to the fact that they run into trouble when assuming a temporal succession."

What trouble?

"when you DON'T REALLY KNOW there was a continuous time dimension to reference throughout these events, you are making a false extrapolation."

What am I extrapolating? When you say I don't really know there was a continuous time dimension to reference, are you say that I don't know the universe has always been in a temporal state?

"Craig is basically making an enormous argument from ignorance- "I can't describe a cause to the universe, but I CAN describe a cause to things around me, therefore the cause was the biblical father of Jesus.""

I think you are making an enormous strawman argument.

"2. seriously, what does ANY part of thermodynamics have to do with undescribable events that may or may not give rise to space, time and energy?"

The second law of thermodynamics is not a description of events that give rise to space, time, and energy. Rather, it's a description of space, time, and energy.

#22 Guy (Guest) on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 12:32am

Sam,
your deliberate efforts to misunderstand are getting a bit tedious.

"like what?"
like what I said next and you referred to next: the assumption of a temporal succession- the assumption of "came before". you know damn well this is the whole basis of the "impossibility of infinites", and you know it's an assumption based on the time axis we're familiar with.

"What am I extrapolating?"
the EXTRAPOLATION is, very clearly and as you dishonestly refuse to acknowledge, imposing our temporally-based awareness on events we know NOTHING about, finding a problem with that logic and claiming "goddidit".
regarding thermodynamics-
a. it has more than the second law. the fact that you keep referring only to that just shows you know nothing about it except as a talking point in apologetics.
b. "is not a description of events..." please re-read what I wrote. I didn't claim it was, you managed to understand the exact opposite of what I said. I actually said it has NO KNOWN implication on events that occur APART from the framework of everyday, quantum field theory physics that we observe in the CURRENT conditions of the universe.

" it's a description of space, time, and energy"?
you must be confusing "the second law" with all of physics and cosmology.

#23 Ross (Guest) on Friday February 22, 2013 at 11:13am

Not cool to cast aspersions on a person's character in lieu of addressing what they are saying, Guy.

For one, it seems like you've seriously misunderstood Craig's Kalam argument. The Kalam nowhere mentions Jesus or Jesus' father.

Have you read the argument?

Comment

Register/Login

Name:
Email:
Location:

Guests may not post URLs. Registration is free and easy.

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?



Enter the word that goes in the blank: CFI is short for "______ for Inquiry"

Creative Commons License

The Course of Reason is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

CFI blog entries can be copied or distributed freely, provided:

  • Credit is given to the Center for Inquiry and the individual blogger
  • Either the entire entry is reproduced or an excerpt that is considered fair use
  • The copying/distribution is for noncommercial purposes