• Uber
    There's another important point to make. I'll call this the problem of time, and the cosmological argument definitely has one. For the CA to work, it needs to maintain that the Universe had an absolute beginning that all observers can agree on. In other words, it makes an implicit assumption of presentism, in which time flows from past to future and only the present moment exists. The problem with this assumption is that it violates relativity, which concludes that absolute simultaneity does not exist. Meaning what? Meaning that systems and observers in different reference frames (traveling in relatively different speeds) will not agree on the simultaneity of events. What you think is the present for you may be the future or the past to another observer. You may think time flows for you personally, but it would hardly do that for a solar neutrino shooting through space near the speed of light. I write all of this not necessarily to endorse the 'block universe' in which all events exist tenselessly (B-theory of time), but simply to reject the A-theory and presentism. And because presentism is not true, then the Universe cannot be said to have an absolute beginning.

    This point, that there is no absolute beginning, can also be understood by the fact that the solutions to Einstein's field equations in general relativity yield singularities and ridiculous results at "t = 0." So another theory is needed that can remove these singularities. There are such quantum gravity theories, but whether they are empirically credible is open to debate. Most of them also need more theoretical development. But the main point is that there probably was no sharp singularity at the "moment" of the Big Bang, hence also suggesting the lack of an absolute beginning. The transition between the state of mass-energy before the Big Bang to the one after it is not well-understood. But it would be a fallacy to suggest that just because that happens to be poorly understood, God must have done it!
  • jorndoe
    @Uber, along the same lines, it seems these types of arguments hitch a ride with some metaphysical theses, but apply them to limit- or edge-cases. Suspect.

    • spacetime is an aspect of the universe, but “before time” is incoherent; causality is temporal, but “a cause of causation” is incoherent
    • if there was a definite earliest time (or “time zero”), then anything that existed at that time, began to exist at that time, and that includes any first causes, deities, or whatever else
    • there could never have been a time when there wasn’t anything, since there would have been time (cf Bede Rundle)
    • an atemporal, “eternal” cause of a universe that has a definite age (like 14 billion years) is incompatible with the principle of sufficient reason, since such a cause lead us to expect an infinite age of the universe — there’s no sufficient reason the universe is 14 billion years old and not some other age, any other definite age in fact

    I suppose, if the principle of sufficient reason is embedded somewhere in these arguments, then they run into troubles on that account.
  • Marcus de Brun
    Of course there is a creator. Nothing comes from nothing, therefore in the worst case scenario the creator amounts to nothing.

    The major problem with the creator-thing, arises when we seek to define it. Essentially the question is 'does this creator believe in me' or do I have a relationship with it.

    This creator-thing must believe in me because I exist. However the 'I' and the 'exist' remain up for grabs. All that has been proven to date is that 'thought' exists and in this sense once can conclude that this creator-thing has some (yet to be defined) relationship with thought.

    Spinoza has pushed this notion to its present limit, and would seem to have the most sophisticated notion of the creator thing he was excommunicated as a consequence.. so he was clearly on the right track. Personally I am grateful to have access to 'thought' as this thought-thing when it is unencumbered by dogma and gross convention, and exercised independently, appears to have the closest approximation to this creator-thing.

    Everything we know is created by thought.

  • Wayfarer
    One thing to remember is that natural philosophy was not originally understood as the attempt to explain nature (as it now widely seems understood to be). Natural philosophy at the time of Newton and Galileo, was assumed to rest on a foundation of laws which were 'God's handiwork'. But given the deism to which the mainstream of Western philosophy was then attracted, the universe was felt to be a great machine which, like any machine, seemed quite capable of running without any further input from it's creator. At which point, God, as Ted Dace once remarked, had become 'a ghost in his own machine'.

    But in any case, scientific cosmology is not at a point where a definitive fundamental ground, cause or reason for the whole Universe seems likely to be forthcoming anytime soon. There are massive debates going on about foundational issues in physics and cosmology. Nothing the matter with that, of course, all par for the course. But it behooves us to recall that natural philosophy qua science hasn't, and doesn't look like, explaining what a 'first cause' might amount to. It leaves rather a large space, or explanatory gap.
  • Hanover
    Of course there is a creator. Nothing comes from nothing,Marcus de Brun

    Where did the creator come from?
  • Rank Amateur
    Thanks all, and as my name suggests, I am quite out of my league with most on here.

    In catching up with some of the comments I have the following thoughts. Until there is some scientific consensus on how or if the universe had a beginning. No matter how sophisticated your quantum mechanics are, until it is fact, it is not fact. And until then it does not provide, at least in my untrained mind, any compelling argument against a necessary being.

    I agree completely, that there is a significant difference between a CA claim there at least was at some time a necessary being, and any other claim about the nature of this being. In my view the claims of nature of the being, are in large measure outside reason, and are matters of faith.

    At the core I still believe the CA come down to which state of affairs is more reasonable.

    1. The contingency of things is finite and there is a necessary being
    2. The contingency of things is not finite. It just is, and was.

    Reasonable arguments can be made for both, and hence my belief that a theistic belief is not outside reason.
  • Marcus de Brun

    Where did the creator come from?

    Not sure Kerry maybe?

    Why must a creator come from somewhere?

    The question itself applies human coordinates of place/space and time, but these are human coordinates. Therefore, to fit within the confines of the question, the creator-thing must be subject to the same conditions as a human, vis space and time. The question has an anthropomorphic bias.

    As soon as the question is posed in this way, one is requiring the concept 'creator' to conform to a human and temporal construct of reality. Why should an extra-corporeal creator-thing, exogenous to human experience, be compelled to share the human experience of space-time? Is this not the same as asking: why is there no God who is just like me?

    An old shoe, falling into a black hole, or moving at a velocity close to the speed of light, is clearly not the Creator of the Universe. However the old shoe (under these conditions) is no longer subject to our conditions of space and time. If an old shoe can be shown experimentally, to be capable of an existence outside of human space time.. why not a creator-thing?

    If a creator-thing can (like an old shoe) exist outside of human space-time, it need not have an 'origin' as it is a-temporal.

    Asking the question 'where did it come from' establishes the failure of the answer, before the answer is tendered. If there is such a creator-thing it may well reside outside of human conditions, and as such an origin is as unlikely as a grey beard and a staff.

  • Hanover
    Why must a creator come from somewhere?Marcus de Brun

    Because you said: "Nothing comes from nothing, "

    If a creator can come from nowhere, so can matter.
  • Marcus de Brun
    If a creator can come from nowhere, so can matter.Hanover

    You seem to be equating a creator-thing with matter? What have you based this on?

    So far: you have confined your creator-thing to a human experience of the universe and presently you are equating your creator-thing with matter. Would you like to give it a gender and a name?

    Because it is starting to sound very familiar?

  • Hanover
    You seem to be equating a creator-thing with matter?Marcus de Brun

    No I haven't. I pointed out that it was as logically consistent to claim the creator is eternal as it is to claim matter is eternal.
  • Sapientia
    This is highly amusing. Nothing comes from nothing! Oh, and by the way, there's this creator-thing which comes from nothing.
  • Rank Amateur
    What the “who created the creator” implies contingent things regresses infinitely. There is no beginning. It is like taking half steps to nowhere.

    Possible. But at least equally possible is a necessary being.
  • Marcus de Brun

    To demand an 'origin' of a creator is to compel that creator to have originated at a moment in time.. the origin. The same applies to matter, to give it a point of origin is equally to confine it to our experience of time.

    Special Relativity insists that time is not fixed but is entirely relative. A shoe entering a black hole is not confined to the human experience of time, why should a putative creator-thing be denied the same potential (to be outside of human time) that Science affords to a shoe in a black hole? In the interests of fairness: What is good for a shoe must be good for a creator-thing?

    I don't think it is unreasonable to argue that nothing comes from nothing: is there an example of a contradiction?

    My point is, that when one demands an origin of creation, one applies an all too human temporal 'fix' to creation, whilst Special Relativity insists that temporal reality is not in fixed but relative.

    Matter may well be eternal? we know from the law of conservation of mass that (as far as we know) it is neither created nor destroyed, but merely changes from one form to another.

  • Wayfarer
    Oh, and by the way, there's this creator-thing which comes from nothing.Sapientia

    No theologian ever thought of that. All those centuries, and to think! their reasoning could be defeated by simple schoolchild logic. Oh the futility.
  • Hanover
    All you say is non-responsive to my statement that it is as logically impossible for matter to exist without a prior cause as it is for a creator to exist without a prior cause. If creators can possess the magical qualities of spontaneous or eternal existence, so can rocks.
  • Rank Amateur
    is it possible that the nature of a necessary being could be different than the nature of a rock?
  • andrewk
    is it possible that the nature of a necessary being could be different than the nature of a rock?Rank Amateur
    Not if rocks are necessary beings.
  • Uber
    I already mentioned this before, but nobody really addressed the fundamental problem with the CA, apart from Rank saying it was a "reasonable" observation.

    The CA:

    1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

    2) The Universe began to exist.

    Conclusion: The Universe has a cause.

    The heart of the problem is causality. To avoid equivocation, the CA needs to rely on a ridiculous interpretation of causality that violates everything we know about the world.

    How do things "begin to exist" in the Universe? By the transfer and exchange of energy between different systems. Causation in the Universe itself is ex materia, meaning some collection of materials and energy can interact and change form into some other collection of materials and energy. You could attempt to argue that they begin to exist through ex materia or ex nihilo causes, but then you would be admitting that some things in the Universe come from actually nowhere, nothing. Toss all of thermodynamics and the conservation laws of physics out the window. Good luck with that claim!

    Now, how does the Universe as a whole "begin to exist"? If you're in the theist camp, it has to be ex nihilo creation. If you allow for ex materia causation of the entire Universe, then God has no special role. So the second premise needs ex nihilo causation. But that sense of causality contradicts the sense of causality used by the first premise. Thus, the CA cannot do both of the following things: 1) provide a consistent definition of causality that comports with modern science and 2) successfully reach its intended conclusion (ie. a supernatural being made all of reality).

    The problem of time also relates to this point because causality in the Universe is temporal (ie. events happen in spacetime). But since God is supposed to have somehow brought time itself into being, the causal process of the entire Universe must have been atemporal. Again, you can't square these circles.

    Causation is the fundamental problem with the CA, and this problem is absolutely insurmountable without fatal concessions to the whole intent of the argument. In effect, the conclusion of the argument boils down to this: all of causation has a cause, but oh by the way that special cause is different from the rest of causation. Why is it different? Who knows, it just is.

    If this sounds ridiculous, it's because it is!
  • Hanover
    It could be anything you want, which means it could also be that rocks could have eternal existence, which means rocks could exist without having been caused, which means that a creator is not necaessary for there to be rocks any more than it is necessary for there to be a prior creator for there to be a current creator.
  • Marcus de Brun

    1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

    There is no evidence to confirm this assertion and much evidence to contradict it, vis the notable absence of an observable cause for the Universe itself.

    How you position the 'order' of the impossibilities of 'things' and 'beginning' does not pose a valid philosophical question nor does it solve an existing one. It merely reiterates three specific dogmatism's that have already been sufficiently undermined by Philosophy to a greater or lesser extent.

    1) There are things outside the mind (undermined/disproved by Berkeley)
    2) Time exists (Undermined/disproved by Einstein)
    3) Effects are caused (undermined/disproved by Hume)

    To say that there are 'things' in and of themselves that exist outside of thought, is an assumption, and to say that there is a process 'time', (merely because we think these things outside our thought appear to undergo temporal change) is to apply a form to the Cosmos that is in keeping with private subjectively believed apriori that are exposed within the question.

    The Cosmos is not bound to these apriori they are yours, and if you wish to hold them with the enthusiasm of an evangelist, then you are no different to a religious zealot.

    All of this assumption creates a Universe that apparently must and yet in truth cannot compel it self into the notion : everything that begins to exist has a cause.

    Therefore the three enormous presumptions contained in this premise (things, temporality & causality) have already been fundamentally undermined if not disproved.

    If the question is to move beyond the boring argument between theists who wish to have a God-thing and atheists who wish to destroy the theists God thing, then we must leave this argument in the kindergarten of religious dogmatics and move into the more interesting realm of Actual Philosophy. In this realm the question is correctly put as follows.

    What is the rationally derived form of the Cosmos?

    We must then seek for an idea or sequence of ideas that reconciles the three assumptions inherent within the initial 'childish' question.

    Determinism which has already been deductively proven by Schopenhauer and which of itself is reasonable and empirically valid, is clearly the starting point for an answer. It asserts in essence that the future is already in existence as it is determined. We must ask, can this assertion be proven and is it empirically validated The answer to this of course is a resounding yes. Hence we must move on, and ask what is the determined form of the Cosmos?

    If our future is already in existence as determinism suggests, then the notion that we are moving through time, that we somehow move from the present into the future, is entirely illusory. If our future exists already, we cannot move into it because it already contains us. We are already there. Therefore the notion of temporality and the passage of time must be dispensed with in respect of a Cosmic construct that is devoid of uncertainty and religiosity.

    I will not deny that there is an apparent temporal nature to my experience of thought, however to apply this vague temporal nature (that is my own experience) to the gross form of the Cosmos is an homocentric delusion that simultaneously denies the empirically validated 'truth' and 'experience'.

    It is time for Philosophy to get off its knees and begin to walk.

Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.