Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Kalam Argument for God's Existence

The Kalam Cosmolog-ical Argument is one of the most basic and effective proofs for the existence of God. It is also one of the most highly challenged proofs. It can be stated as follows:

Premise 1: Everything that began to exist had a cause.
Premise 2: The universe began to exist.
Conclusion: Therefore, the universe had a cause.

This argument carries a logical form that guarantees the conclusion is true if the premises are true (modus ponens). Therefore, a successful defense of this argument need only prove the two premises to guarantee its soundness. My goal here will be to briefly mention some criticisms of each premise, then to defend each premise, and finally to draw some implications of this proof.

Premise 1: Everything that began to exist had a cause.

For the most part, this premise is a generally accepted one. However, some have challenged whether or not we can know this to be true. To defend it against such doubt, I would like to point out that—for things that began to exist—there are only three possible explanations:

1- It was uncaused
2- It was caused to exist by itself
3- It was caused to exist by another

Now to say that a thing that began to exist was uncaused seems to go against all reason. Indeed this explanation is one that must rely on pure faith and that goes against everything in our experience. Some may argue that research in Quantum Mechanics supports the idea that things can be uncaused, but this hypothesis is highly questionable and there has not been given a demonstrable proof of it to this point.

The second option is absurd, seeing as the thing would have to exist before it existed in order to cause itself. I have never heard of this option defended.

Thus, the third option is by far the most plausible. In all of our experience, we can say that of all things that have begun to exist that they have had a cause.

One final note that should be made here regards an objection that has been around since Kant. It is the claim that, if everything needs a cause, then so does God—thus the first premise is half of an antinomy. But this argument is based on a clear misreading of the claim. The first premise states that everything that begins to exist must have a cause. Not that everything needs a cause. Thus the objection is misplaced.

Premise 2: The universe began to exist.

This premise can be defended in two different ways. One by a priori reasoning (reasoning that comes in a way that is separate from experience) and one by a posteriori reasoning (reasoning that comes by way of experience). The a priori defense of this premise argues from the impossibility of an infinite number of moments. The main claim is that one cannot traverse an actual infinite. Consider this: if today is here, could it be possible that an infinite number of days were prior to today? If so, then how did we reach today? Wouldn't there always be at least one more day prior to this day? Some will argue that an infinite can be shown to exist in the fact that all measurements are infinitely divisible. Take for instance a line 3 inches long. Mathematically, there are an infinite number of points on this line—thus within an apparent finite measurement there are an infinite number of length-moments. Therefore there is no reason to believe that within an apparent finite amount of time there are an infinite number of time-moments.

So can this problem be solved? Yes. In response to the skeptic here, it needs to be pointed out that the example fails. It is treating the mathematical points as if they were units of measurement, when in fact they have no actual dimension in the space-time world. It is because they are dimensionless beings of reason that one can say that they total an infinite number of possibilities. If points were real beings of which can be equated with length, then the total number of them that would fit into a 3 inch line would be finite. The same thing can be said with regards to time. A moment cannot be considered as a timeless measurement, because each moment, as they are considered in this argument, actually spans time. In conclusion, the mental-existence of potential infinites is not sufficient to prove that it is possible for an actual infinite to exist, let alone to be traversed. Therefore, this premise is demonstrable on an a priori basis.

Now, for those who are earthier and lovers of the evidence from the senses—like me—there is the a posteriori evidence for this argument. Simply put- Big Bang cosmology and the Laws of Thermodynamics support that the universe had a beginning. A full defense and explanation of this right here is not possible, so if anyone desires the particulars of this evidence, please ask. Otherwise, I will move right into the objections. Some say that the First Law of Thermodynamics proves that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; thus implying that the universe is eternal. But this is a misreading of the Law, which states that in a closed system the amount of energy is a constant unchangeable value. Some will say that the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that the amount of useable energy in a closed system is always decreasing, does not apply since the universe may be an open system. But this is ad hoc, since there is no reason to accept the hypothesis except to reject the implication that the universe was created. Likewise, appeals to other theories such as the ever expanding-contracting universe are also ad hoc. In the end, the most reasonable interpretation of the scientific evidence points to a beginning of the universe.

Conclusion

Hence, since the premises both appear to be true, the conclusion must also be true. The most rational belief is that the universe must have had a cause. It is often at this point that many theists stop and many atheists will admit a cause but reject that the cause is God. But I would like to show that the cause demonstrated can ultimately be shown to be a theistic God, fully compatible with the picture of God described by Christianity.

Implications

There are many conclusions that can be drawn from this argument. First, because the cause is the cause of time, it must be eternal. Second, if Einstein's Theory of General Relativity is correct—as is generally accepted by most scientists—then the cause must also be non-spatial and non-material as well since time, space and matter are correlative. In other words, the cause is unlimited omnipresent spirit. Third, since time is the measurement of befores and afters and since the cause is non-temporal then there can be no befores and afters for the cause. Thus the cause must be unchanging. And since the cause is unchanging, then all that it is is all that it could ever be. Thus the cause must be Pure Actuality, with no potentiality. Fourth, given the existence of this cause, it is apparent that it is a necessarily existing thing. This is not to say that it is logically necessary, as the Ontological Argument wrongly tries to prove, but that it is actually necessary. We can know this because it exists and could not not-exist since it could not change. Fifth, the cause must be super-powerful since it created space, time, and matter out of no space, no-time, and no matter—or nothing. Finally, since the being is unlimited, then it must be one—for if there were two unlimited spirits, they would have to differ by something. But to differ, one must be lacking in something had by the other. But a lack implies a limit, thus one would not be the cause, but an effect of some sorts.

In summary, the Kalam argument can be used to demonstrate that a single super-powerful eternal, unlimited, omnipresent, unchanging, actually necessary spirit being exists. And, in the words of Thomas Aquinas, this being we call God.

70 comments:

  1. Your decision to delete several months worth of comment and discussion is only regrettable because you have not made corrections to the blog entries that you agreed needed correction.

    How will you ever make your arguments strong without acknowledging and removing their weaknesses?

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  2. Premise 1: Everything that began to exist had a cause.

    You say "this premise is a generally accepted one" and if this premise is really:

    - Everything that began to exist in time had a cause.

    - Everything that began to exist in the universe had a cause.

    : we can at least see why you might say it is generally accepted.



    Premise 2: The universe began to exist.

    What are we to make of this:

    - The universe began to exist in time.

    - The universe began to exist in the universe.

    : "began to exist" is an event, events take place in time - you seem to be suggesting that somehow time existed without the universe, otherwise it's difficult to see how the universe "began to exist" in time.

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  3. I deleted the previous discussions because I thought that it had become impossible to reach any kind of conclusions while arguing about 10 posts at a time. From this point forward, I will respond to one blog at a time until agreement is reached. I will not bounce back and forth any longer, doing so keeps me from detecting rabbit trails because my mind is everywhere. I am to slow to deal with all these topics at once. That said, I will discuss this responnse until one of us admits his mistake.

    Criticism of premise one:

    I do not see why time or space is a necessary condition for the principle of causality. I grant that all events from which we derive the principle are temporal/spatial events, but I do not see how the principle of causality relies upon them.

    The universe did not begin to exist in time or space. Time, space, and matter are co-relative. Thus, time, space, and matter rise and fall together. Thus, if matter began to exist, so did time and space.

    I am not claiming that time existed prior to the universe. I am suggesting that time had its beginning with the universe. In fact, I believe that time is not really a thing, but it is a principle of being, and thus time only exists when there is something changing. If creation didn't exist, nothing would be changing. So time could not exist without the universe on my view (thus your criticism of me here is misplaced).

    And the fact that it is difficult to understand how the universe began is not evidence that it is false that it did begin, it only shows limitation in our understanding.

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  4. "So time could not exist without the universe on my view"

    Which makes your view of Premise 2 clear:

    - The universe began to exist with time.


    What about Premise 1? Which of these do you mean?

    - Everything that began to exist in time...

    - Everything that began to exist with time...

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  5. The universe did not begin to exist with time, as if time were an additional entity. Rather temporality is a quality of the universe itself. So without the universe there is no time.

    Thus, my answer to the question about premise one is that I have no temporal qualifier. I mean what I said, that everything that began to exist had a cause.

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  6. The universe did not begin to exist with time, as if time were an additional entity.

    The universe began to exist with time, as if time were a quality of the universe itself.


    "Thus, my answer to the question about premise one is that I have no temporal qualifier."

    You wrote "In all of our experience, we can say that of all things that have begun to exist that they have had a cause."

    In all of our experience, what things have begun to exist that did not begin to exist in time?

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  7. Come to think of it, time is not so much a quality of the universe, but of things in the universe.

    Nothing in our experience began to exist "in time." If time is a quality of things in the universe, then all things begin to exist "with time," as you have termed it.

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  8. "Come to think of it, time is not so much a quality of the universe, but of things in the universe."

    If you wish to make that ad hoc argument please re-write your blog entry to explicitly include your new premise.

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  9. While we await your new version of the Kalam argument, we might as well examine the Kalam argument presented on your blog:


    Premise 1: Everything that began to exist had a cause.

    What does "began to exist" mean here?

    Given your direct appeal to "our experience" the straightforward meaning seems to require some previous time at which the thing that "began to exist" did not exist.


    Premise 2: The universe began to exist.

    What does "began to exist" mean here?

    In Premise 2 "began to exist" cannot have a meaning which would require some previous time at which the universe did not exist - because you were very clear that "without the universe there is no time".


    So "began to exist" in Premise 2 cannot have the same meaning as "began to exist" in Premise 1.

    The Kalam argument presented on your blog equivocates on the meaning of "began to exist" and is therefore invalid.

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  10. It is not ad hoc. Do you think that the universe is an entity that is distinct from the things that compose it? Is the universe soulish and all the material parts like a Platonic body? I doubt that this is your poisition.
    I was simply trying to be as clear as possible, but I suspect that when most people say "the universe" that they mean the things that are considered to be united in a single mental category.

    Again, there is nothing about the generation of a thing that requires time if temporality is a characteristic of being rather than time being some seperate being. Time is nothing more than the measurement of change. If whatever exists causally prior to the things in the universe is immutable, there is nothing to measure, and thus no time.

    That temporality is understood to be a characteristic of being follows through the whole argument, thus there is no equivocation.

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  11. Premise 1: Everything that began to exist had a cause.

    What does "began to exist" mean here?

    From "all of our experience" which of the things we say "began to exist" have no previous time at which the thing that "began to exist" did not exist?

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  12. I think that it is obvious what "began to exist" means.

    In our experience, there is no previous moment for the thing that began to exist. The previous moments are only known as previous because there are other things that exist that are measuring their own motion/change. And such motion follows under the same causal principles as existence does (every event needs a cause).

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  13. I think that it is obvious what "began to exist" means.

    And yet you still seem unwilling to actually say what "began to exist" means in premise 1?

    (The phrase appears in both premises, establishing what it means is an ordinary step in understanding the argument - what's the problem?)

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  14. Began to exist means began to exist. If you don't get that, I can't help you understand.

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  15. I didn't think I would need to help you explain the premises of your own argument!

    At the time I posted my 12:22 PM comment we could say there was no reply to that comment, we could say a reply to that commented does not exist.

    At this later time there is a reply to my 12:22 PM comment - we could say a reply does exist.

    In this example, we might say that the reply "began to exist" is a transition between the time when we could say the reply does not exist and the time when we could say the reply does exist.

    In "all of our experience" we might say that "began to exist" is a transition between a time when a thing does not exist and a time when a thing does exist.

    There! I've helped you with both a specific example and a generalization!

    Now all you need to do is agree that is what "began to exist" means, or sketch your own explanation of what "began to exist" means using the same simple example.

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  16. You are assuming that time is an absolute. My position is that temporality is an aspect of changing being. And since there are temporal beings present to a thing that begins to exist, for those beings there will be a time before the coming to be of the object, but for the object there is no time prior to its coming to be. Its temporality appears with its ontological inception.

    So you have not explained my premise, you have only shown how you can read your presuppositions into it.

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  17. > So you have not explained my premise...

    You need to explain your premise!

    I've just shown your premise does need to be explained and provided a concrete example for you to use in your explanation.

    Please explain what "began to exist" means for the reply to my 12:22 PM comment.

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  18. What do you mean by "explain what it means"? Do you want me to say what the words mean, or do you want me to explain how something comes to be? Begin means start. Exist means to have being. So begin to exist means start to have being.

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  19. Let's make this Yes/No easy:

    1) At the time I posted my 12:22 PM comment could we say a reply to that comment does not exist? Yes/No?

    2) At this later time could we say a reply to my 12:22 PM comment does exist? Yes/No?

    3) In this example, the reply "began to exist" is a transition between the time when we could say the reply does not exist and the time when we could say the reply does exist. Do you agree? Yes/No?

    4) If 'No' for #3 then does the reply "began to exist" just mean the same as the reply does exist? Yes/No?

    5) If 'No' for #4 then does the reply "began to exist" mean there was a time when we could say the reply does not exist? Yes/No?

    6) If 'No' for #5 then what more or less does the reply "began to exist" mean than the reply does exist? What is the difference in meaning?

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  20. Yes

    Yes

    Yes, but in this example it is accidental that there is a transitional time period. The prior time is not an aspect of the being of the post, it is an aspect of your being. If no temporal thing existed at the inception of the post, then there would be nothing successive or temporal before by which to say that there was time prior to its inception.

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

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  21. 7) If 'Yes' for #3 then does the reply "began to exist" just mean the same as the reply does exist? Yes/No?

    8) If 'No' for #7 then what more or less does the reply "began to exist" mean than the reply does exist? What is the difference in meaning?

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  22. 7) No, it does not mean the same thing. "Began to exist" is more specific and points out a things contingency. "To exist" can refer to things that are not contingent and that do not change.

    ReplyDelete
  23. You answered 'No' for #7 but did not answer #8 for the specific example from our experience:


    8) If 'No' for #7 then what more or less does the reply "began to exist" mean than the reply does exist? What is the difference in meaning?

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  24. Yes I did. Re-read my reply.

    ReplyDelete
  25. You seem to have made a general statement which does not show a difference in meaning in the specific example of a reply to my 12:22 PM comment.

    Whether or not "To exist" can refer to things that are not contingent; in the specific example, it only refers to something that is contingent.

    Whether or not "To exist" can refer to things that do not change; in the specific example, it only refers to something that can change.

    The general differences you suggest, are not differences that apply in the specific example.

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  26. I do not have to show a difference in meaning in the specific example. Even so, there are no prior moments for the statement prior to its inception. There were prior moments for the issuer of the statement, but that is because the issuer is a temporal being. Time is relative to space and matter. If the statement is not made in a material-spatial way, then it has not become temporal.

    I agree that in your example the "began to exist" involves a changing and contingent "thing." But these are not necessary conditions for "beginning to exist" as such.

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  27. > I do not have to show a difference in meaning in the specific example.

    You claimed (October 5, 2008 7:34 AM) that in the specific example the reply "began to exist" does not just mean the same as the reply does exist but you seem unable to justify the claim by showing any difference in meaning.

    The specific example is a very ordinary situation taken from our shared experience in this discussion. It's an example of the kind of situation you appeal to when you write "In all of our experience, we can say that of all things that have begun to exist that they have had a cause."

    If we follow your reasoning then we are left with no distinction between began to exist and does exist in the ordinary situations of our daily experience.

    Clearly we do make that distinction.

    In the ordinary situations of our daily experience "began to exist" requires both before, when we could say the thing does not exist, and after, when we could say the thing does exist.

    If that is not the meaning you wish to employ in your argument then you cannot ground premise 1 in a direct appeal to "our experience" because in "our experience" that is the meaning of "began to exist".

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  28. If particular time is relative to particular matter and particular space, then there is no before for the thing that begins to exist. The before is a mental construct that arises because those that are viewing it are temporal.

    Just because we are temporal does not mean that beginning to exist implies temporality. In fact, it cannot, because if temporality were a necessary condition to coming to be, then we would be left with the absurdity of an actually existing infinite regress.

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  29. > Just because we are temporal does not mean that beginning to exist implies temporality.

    In the ordinary situations of our daily experience what we mean by "began to exist" requires both before and after.

    If that is not the meaning you wish to employ in your argument then you cannot ground premise 1 in a direct appeal to "our experience".

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  30. It is as if you have not read what I have been saying all this time. Temporality is a quality of being. Thus there cannot be a before for the being that begins to exist. The before is a characteristic of another being's perception. Time is not absolute, it is subjective. Given this notion of time, it is clear that everything in our experience must be in line with what I have proposed. One only needs to make the distinction between perception and being to recognize it.

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  31. > Thus there cannot be a before for the being that begins to exist. The before is a characteristic of another being's perception.

    Please show how those assertions contradict: 'In the ordinary situations of our daily experience what we mean by "began to exist" requires both before and after.'

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  32. Again, that is only what I mean when I am talking about my perception of something beginning to exist. I do not think that befores and afters have anything to do with the ontological status of the object that begins to exist.

    So in the future, be clearer on what you are saying I mean when you use the word "we".

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  33. > Again, that is only what I mean when...

    At this point we are left to guess whether or not you think there is a contradiction.


    > I do not think that befores and afters have anything to do with the ontological status of the object that begins to exist.

    Whether or not "befores and afters have anything to do with the ontological status of the object that begins to exist"; in the Kalam argument presented on your blog you directly appeal to "our experience" as grounds for premise 1, you directly appeal to "befores and afters" as grounds for premise 1.

    In rejecting "befores and afters" you reject the grounds you presented for premise 1.



    By all means create a new blog article that presents a Kalam argument grounded on your metaphysical conjectures.
    Until you do so we are left to consider the Kalam argument you did present on your blog, where you directly appeal to "our experience" as grounds for premise 1.

    ReplyDelete
  34. A contradiction where?

    Right, and in our experience, begining to exist does not entail a before or after for the object that begins to exist.

    My understanding of temporality as it relates to being is consistent with the Kalam argument, no need for a new blog.

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  35. > ... in our experience, begining to exist does not entail a before or after for the object that begins to exist.

    Our shared experience is that a reply to my 12:22 PM comment does exist.

    What in our shared experience tells us that a reply to my 12:22 PM comment began to exist?

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  36. The fact of the object beginning to exist is what our experience relies on to know that an object began to exist.

    To assume that temporality is a necessary condition for the knowledge of a beginning of an object's existence does not follow from the statements "I am temporal" and "A temporal object began to exist." That is a conjunction, not a conditional.

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  37. > The fact of the object beginning to exist is what our experience relies on to know that an object began to exist.

    Our experience may lead us to say that it is a fact that a reply to my 12:22 PM comment began to exist - but that says nothing about what in our shared experience tells us that a reply to my 12:22 PM comment began to exist.

    If you do not wish to answer the question I asked, just say so.


    > ... does not follow from the statements ...

    As those are not statements you or I have made in any part of this discussion your assertion seems to be irrelevant.

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  38. You wrote My goal here will be to briefly mention some criticisms of each premise, then to defend each premise ...

    As you know, the phrase "began to exist" is particularly important as the middle-term connecting each premise of the Kalam argument presented on your blog.

    Even with the most ardent desire to accept the conclusion presented, we could not do so on the basis of these premises:

    Premise 1: Everything that Φ had a cause.

    Premise 2: The universe Φ.

    Establishing a clear meaning for Φ is an essential step in defending each premise; establishing a clear meaning for "began to exist" is an essential step in defending each premise.

    On several occasions you have stated what "began to exist" does not mean - but to defend each premise you need to say what you think "began to exist" does mean.


    When you say "since there are temporal beings present to a thing that begins to exist, for those beings there will be a time before the coming to be of the object, but for the object there is no time prior to its coming to be" you present 2 different perspectives - you need to say which of those 2 different perspectives you mean when you say "began to exist".

    Failing to establish a meaning for "began to exist" leaves us with Φ and no choice but to reject each premise as incomplete.

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  39. One comment box at a time please.

    First post: What is the difference between our experience and our shared experience? And the statements, while they have not been quoted, are relevant to my point, that befores and afters are not necessary for beginning to exist.

    Second post: Actually, it is not a middle term, since middle terms are found in categorical arguments. Rather, it is the antecedent to a conditional, and the granted premise in the modus ponens argument. Second, I have been more than clear as to what it means. It means the same thing as "The response began to exist." I have also explained why the temporal nature of the statement's existence is accidental, and can only be said when describing the event from another temporal beings perspective, but cannot be said of the object itself.

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  40. It means the same thing as "The response began to exist."

    Saying the response began to exist means the same thing as "The response began to exist" obviously does nothing to resolve the question of what you think "began to exist" means.


    I have also explained why the temporal nature of the statement's existence is accidental, and can only be said when describing the event from another temporal beings perspective, but cannot be said of the object itself.

    Whether or not that is the case; you need to say which of those 2 different perspectives you mean when you say "began to exist".

    Alternatively, if you want to take both those perspectives as what you mean when you say "began to exist" then of course you will need to show that both meanings hold in both premise 1 and premise 2.


    Failing to establish a meaning for "began to exist" leaves us with Φ and no choice but to reject each premise as incomplete.

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  41. I mean that, from a temporal perspective, there was nothing and then there was something. But this perspective has nothing to do with the being of the thing that begins, and thus is not a necessary condition for the beginning of a things existence. Thus, befores and afters are not necessary conditions for a beginning of a things existence, but only for the perception of such an event by a temporal being.

    These are not two perspectives in opposition. The one that includes temporality is epistemological. The one that does not is metaphysical. I am arguing for the ontological status of the universe, so the epistemological is not my goal.

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  42. By all means create a new blog article that presents a Kalam argument grounded on your metaphysical conjectures.

    Until you do so we are left to consider the Kalam argument you did present on your blog, where you directly appeal to "our experience" as grounds for premise 1.

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  43. This argument is consistent with my metaphysical conclusions. No new argument is needed.

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  44. > This argument is consistent with my metaphysical conclusions.

    Your argument from "our experience" has no connection to your metaphysical conjectures.


    > October 9, 2008 10:24 PM "... in our experience, begining to exist does not entail a before or after for the object that begins to exist."

    "[I]n our experience" there is nothing about what "began to exist" means for the object; there is only what the object "began to exist" means for us - before and after.

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  45. You are assuming that my metaphysical conjectures are not arrived at via experience. But that is false. It is an analysis of experience that leads me to accept my metaphysical conclusions.

    Our experience does have a referrent for the beginning to exist for an object. The sentence itself really began to exist. It is the object. Our perception of it depends on its ontological status.

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  46. It is an analysis of experience that leads me to accept my metaphysical conclusions.

    Your experience is experience in time and space - rather than addressing that inconvenient truth, your metaphysical conjectures seem simply to ignore it - it doesn't become irrelevant just because you ignore it.


    You say from a temporal perspective "began to exist" means there was nothing and then there was something.

    You say this perspective has nothing to do with the being of the thing that begins.

    You stop short.

    You don't say what "began to exist" might mean that would have something to do with the being of the thing that begins.


    Your argument from "our experience" has no connection to your metaphysical conjectures.

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  47. My experience is not in time and space. It is temporal and spatial. Time and space are not entities but principles of the kind of being that I have. This is the conclusion of Einstein's theory of relativity.

    The thing that begins to exist attains an ontological status. That is all that I mean by begins to exist. To assume that I need a temporal qualifier begs the question and betrays science and philosophy.

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  48. > The thing that begins to exist attains an ontological status. That is all that I mean by begins to exist.

    Why don't you say that's what you mean in the Kalam argument you present on your blog?

    Why don't you say:

    Premise 1: Everything that attains an ontological status had a cause.

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  49. Because the definition is obvious.

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  50. The obvious definition is "from a temporal perspective, there was nothing and then there was something." October 13, 2008 7:52 AM

    You say you mean something different than the obvious definition so why don't say what you mean in the Kalam argument on your blog?


    Like began, "from a temporal perspective" attain is an event with a before and after - without that temporal perspective all you've been able to say is does exist.

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  51. No. I meant what I said. The definition of a thing includes its ontological characteristics because it is these that are essential. How it relates to other things is an accidental qualitym and thus is not included in the definition. For instance, I was born in St. Louis. But this is not included in the definition of what I am.

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  52. > The definition of a thing includes its ontological characteristics...

    You haven't been asked about "The definition of a thing"; you've been asked about the definition of "began to exist".

    The obvious definition of "began to exist" is "from a temporal perspective, there was nothing and then there was something." October 13, 2008 7:52 AM


    You say you mean something different than the obvious definition of "began to exist" so why don't say what you mean in the Kalam argument on your blog?

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  53. It doesn't matter if I have been asked about the definition of a thing... it plays into the discussion of what it means to begin to exist.

    The supposed obvious definition is not a definition, it is a description. A definition picks out a things essence, not its accidents.

    I am done with this back and forth. You now have more than enough explanation as to what I mean by "begins to exist." Under my explanation, the argument retains its validity, and the premises are true, and thus it is a sound argument.

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  54. > Under my explanation, the argument retains its validity, and the premises are true, and thus it is a sound argument.

    My first question was "How will you ever make your arguments strong without acknowledging and removing their weaknesses?"

    Rather than acknowledge and remove the weaknesses in the Kalam argument presented on your blog, you've spent weeks digging deeper, denial-by-denial, destroying the very argument you are supposedly defending.

    Someone reading your comments will be baffled that your explanation does not appear in the Kalam argument presented on your blog, when it is obvious that you know "began to exist" will be understood "from a temporal perspective" but that is not what you now say you mean.

    And that's before they notice how difficult it is to reconcile your explanation with the Kalam argument presented on your blog.

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  55. Whatever weakness was there has been explained. You now know what I mean by "begins to exist."

    I have not denied the ambiguity. I have explained it. And I have in no way compromised the original form of the argument, I have only clarified it.

    While it is common for someone to think about beginning to exist from a temporal perspective, if they stopped to realize that we are doing metaphysics, or the study of being AS BEING, then they would realize that the subject being discussed is not perception, and thus when they considered "beginning to exist," it should be recognized that it is to be considered in the way I have described. And if someone does not understand then, they can ask. If every word or phrase had to be defined, then nothing would ever be said.

    That said, I still maintain that the argument is sound.

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  56. While it is common for someone to think about beginning to exist from a temporal perspective, if they stopped to realize that we are doing metaphysics...

    In the Kalam argument presented on your blog where exactly do you show the reader that by "began to exist" you do not mean "began to exist" from a temporal perspective?


    I have not denied the ambiguity. I have explained it.

    In the Kalam argument presented on your blog do you intend "began to exist" to be ambiguous?

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  57. I am done debating this point. You know what it means now.

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  58. I now know what you don't mean by "began to exist".

    I now know you don't mean what it is common for someone to think about beginning to exist.

    I now know you understand that nothing in the Kalam argument presented on your blog shows the reader that you do not mean "began to exist" from a temporal perspective.


    > I have not denied the ambiguity... If every word or phrase had to be defined, then nothing would ever be said.

    I now know that you have no interest in showing readers of the Kalam argument presented on your blog what you mean by "began to exist".

    "The [Equivocation] fallacy occurs when we deliberately employ words with multiple meanings for the purpose of deception."

    p106 Being Logical, D.Q.McInerney

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  59. I have already told you what I meant. It means that something attains an ontological status.

    Again, while it is common for someone to think of beginning to exist as if there is necessarily a before and after, that is actuallly a consequence of OUR being temporal, and has nothing to do with the ontology of the being. It is kind of like saying that: Because every time I see "Joe the Plumber" (can philosophers use him too!) he is wearing a shirt, so it must mean that Joe the plummer necessarily wears shirts. That does not follow, and deeper thinking will reveal that.

    There can be a temporal perspective as far as I am concerned. My point is that that perspective is part of the knower, not part of the object. There is no before for the object that comes to be.

    If you can't get it, then I am sorry for you. While I will grant you the early ambiguity, it is just not true that I am equivocating. I have not employed a temporal reference in either premise, thus both uses of began to exist are univocal.

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  60. > I have already told you what I meant. It means that something attains an ontological status.

    Why don't you say that in the Kalam argument presented on your blog?

    Premise 1: Everything that attains an ontological status had a cause.

    Since you acknowledge ... it is common for someone to think of beginning to exist as if there is necessarily a before and after ... the retort "Because the definition is obvious" is no answer.


    As you know that it is common for someone to think of beginning to exist in that way, if that is not how someone should think of beginning to exist in your premise then you have a responsibility to say explicitly how someone should think of beginning to exist in the Kalam argument presented on your blog.



    I have not employed a temporal reference in either premise, thus both uses of began to exist are univocal.

    Premise 1 is grounded in "a temporal perspective" our experience, "part of the knower, not part of the object."

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  61. "Some will say that the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that the amount of useable energy in a closed system is always decreasing, does not apply since the universe may be an open system."

    Some will say that isn't what the Second Law of Thermodynamics states.

    "... Boltzmann ... definition of entropy as the probability of a state. ... either the universe was created in a highly unlikely special state, and its initial order has been 'degrading' ever since, or it has existed for ever, and at some time in the recent past it entered by chance an exceedingly improbable state of very low entropy, from which it is now emerging. The second possibility is entirely compatible with the laws of physics." p25

    "I did a Ph.D on Einstein's theory of gravitation ..." p3

    "The End of Time" Julian Barbour 1999


    Why should we accept that your understanding of the Second Law of Thermodynamics is better than the understanding of someone who completed Ph.D level work on Einstein's theory of gravitation?

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  62. One post at a time please.

    It has been clarified, so why it was ambiguous at first is irrelevant.

    I didn't say that people will assume that necessarily there is a before and after. I said that they will assume that there is implied a before and after. But deeper philosophical consideration will show that this is not the case.

    My responsibility is not to exhaust all the possible interpretations. My responsibility is to defend my argument as it is challenged.

    Premise one, while enveloped in our experience from a temporal perspective, is not a premise about our perspective, it is a perspective about ontology. And the a thing has no before or afters ontologically.

    Second Post:

    There is no evidence that the universe is emerging from a state of low entropy. There has never been any instance of an energy source increasing without an outside influence (e.g. a battery will always run down unless charged by an agent).

    No, his understanding may not be better. Otherss who have completed similar degrees would agree with me. Nice try though. That would be like me saying that because William Lane Craig did his PhD on the Kalam Cosmological Argument and says it is valid that means you are probably wrong.

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  63. why it was ambiguous at first is irrelevant

    What you still say in the Kalam argument presented on your blog is not obviously ambiguous because "began to exist" does have an obvious meaning ... it is common for someone to think of beginning to exist as if there is necessarily a before and after ... - not obviously ambiguous but nothing like the meaning you claim you intended.

    The puzzle is why someone confident of their argument would not rush to remove any possibility of a reader misunderstanding their argument.


    And the a thing has no before or afters ontologically.

    The thing has no "began to exist" ontologically just "does exist" - which is why you are unable to show "that in the specific example the reply "began to exist" does not just mean the same as the reply does exist".


    There is no evidence that the universe is emerging from a state of low entropy.

    Charitably, that seems to be a typo.

    The point is that increase in entropy is simply a matter of probability, there are vastly more possible high entropy states - so "at some time in the recent past it entered by chance an exceedingly improbable state of very low entropy, from which it is now emerging" is exceedingly improbable but not incompatible with the laws of physics.


    ... because William Lane Craig did his PhD on the Kalam Cosmological Argument and says it is valid ...

    As William Lane Craig has engaged in that level of study we expect more than opinion - we expect he can provide reasons for his opinion.

    Barbour's reason is that increase in entropy is simply a matter of probability.

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  64. They can think that, but I have already explained why that is false.

    If things don't begin to exist, but only exist, then you are left with the absurdity that they are all eternal.

    By "emerging from low entropy" I understood "emerging from entropy." If you do not give up the fact of entropy, then the interpretation of the second law still holds.

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  65. > They can think that, but I have already explained why that is false.

    You do not explain why that is false in the Kalam argument presented on your blog.

    Is it your intention that readers of your blog misunderstand what you mean by those premises?


    > If things don't begin to exist, but only exist, then you are left with the absurdity that they are all eternal.

    If that is an absurdity, it is an absurdity you chose by insisting that you were only talking about the ontology of being - "began to exist" is from the ontology of our spatio-temporal perspective, from our external perspective.



    > By "emerging from low entropy" I understood "emerging from entropy."

    I cannot guess what you understand by "emerging from entropy" because the phrase doesn't seem to make any sense - what sense could we make of 'emerging from temperature'?

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  66. If it is a fals eway to consider being in general, then it is a false way to consider being as referenced in my blog.

    -"began to exist" is from the ontology of our spatio-temporal perspective-

    So you do not think that the things that we perceive as beginning to exist are in reality beginning to exist? Are you a pantheist, relegating all things to illusion?

    "Entropy" does not merely mean "temperature." It is a technical term denoting the "thinning out" of the pockets of energy in the universe. Thus, by "emerging from entropy" I mean that energy is seen, not to thin out, but to concentrate itself without any external influence. It is this that the second law says cannot happen.

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  67. > If it is a fals eway to consider being in general

    Whether or not it is a false way to consider being in general, you do not explain why that is false in the Kalam argument presented on your blog.

    Is it your intention that readers of your blog misunderstand what you mean by those premises?


    > So you do not think that the things that we perceive as beginning to exist are in reality beginning to exist?

    When you say "in reality beginning to exist" you smuggle in "beginning" from the ontology of our spatio-temporal perspective.

    When you say "attains an ontological status" you smuggle in "attains" from the ontology of our spatio-temporal perspective.

    You insist that you are only talking about the ontology of being - but you actually talk about the ontology of our spatio-temporal perspective.



    > "Entropy" does not merely mean "temperature."

    In the same way that it makes no sense to say 'emerging from temperature' or 'emerging from length' or 'emerging from mass' it makes no sense to say 'emerging from entropy'.

    The physicist wrote about emerging from a state, an exceedingly improbable state, a state of very low entropy - not 'emerging from entropy' - emerging from a state.


    It is a technical term denoting the "thinning out" of the pockets of energy in the universe.

    No. Just as length does not mean becoming longer or shorter, and mass does not mean becoming less massive or more massive; entropy does not mean "thinning out" of the pockets of energy in the universe.


    Increase in entropy is a matter of probability, there are vastly more possible high entropy states.

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  68. I am no more accountable for a reader's ignorance regarding the principles of being than I would be if he couldn't read English.

    The rest of your post is just confused.

    On that note, I am done here.

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  69. > I am no more accountable for a reader's ignorance regarding the principles of being...

    My first question was "How will you ever make your arguments strong without acknowledging and removing their weaknesses?"

    "If you plan to argue a point about justice, say, make sure you begin by giving a precise definition of the term, and then consistently stick with that definition throughout the argument."

    p109 Being Logical, D.Q.McInerney


    > The rest of your post is just confused.

    "An unsupported statement is a mere opinion, which we are free to take or leave at face value."

    p85 Being Logical, D.Q.McInerney


    > On that note, I am done here.

    Did you admit your mistake? ("I will discuss this responnse until one of us admits his mistake.")

    Was it in addressing a strawman "the fact that all measurements are infinitely divisible" rather than the relevant point "Wouldn't there always be at least one more day prior to this day"?

    We reached today from yesterday; we reached yesterday from the day before; we reached the day before from the day before that.

    For every past day a finite number of days until the present day; for every past day a day before.

    You present no argument against that lack of beginning.

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