Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Refuting the Refutation: Part 2 - The Cosmological Argument from Contingency

The Arizona Atheist starts "refuting" Craig's formulations of several theistic arguments at the argument from contingency. AA uses the form that Craig has posted on his Question #26 on his website, reasonablefaith.org.
1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
3. The universe exists.
4. Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (from 1, 3).
5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God (from 2, 4).
On Premise 1: the Principle of Sufficient Reason


AA starts by going after premise 1, which is pretty much just the principle of sufficient reason (PSR). He says,
According to modern physics, however things can seemingly happen without cause. There are several things we observe that appear to have no cause. For example, "[w]hen an atom in an excited energy level drops to a lower level and emits a photon, a particle of light, we find no cause of that event. Similarly, no cause is evident in the decay of a radioactive nucleus."
Actually, according to modern physics, there may (emphasis on MAY, see my comment here) be some indeterministic events at the quantum level, but there is certainly an explanation for why those events can happen, namely because the necessary framework needed for the events already exists. In this example (taken from retired cosmologist, Victor Stenger) the atom exists to emit a particle of light. But let's examine the example further. Stenger says that when an atom that is in an excited state drops to a lower level, it emits a photon, and that is an example of a causeless event. Um, really? Seems to me that the cause of the atom emitting a photon is the drop to a lower energy level. We may not know exactly why it happens, but it seems to me in just examining the quote that we don't have an uncaused event.

But even if there are events that seemingly are inexplicable, should we then jettison the PSR? I don't think so. In fact, this seems to amount to nothing but an appeal to ignorance. We don't know the cause, therefore there isn't one. I think, based on our common experience and the strong intuition we have that all things have a sufficient reason for their existing, we should reject the conclusion that there are uncaused events. Can you imagine if scientists started settling for this answer, as the Arizona Atheist has, and saying, "well at first glance we can't figure out the cause, therefore there most likely isn't one"? That would destroy all avenues of science. Just think of the ramifications in criminal forensics!

Not to mention that the scientific data really doesn't support his claim. Another example that has been cited by some atheists is radioactive decay. But, as a friend pointed out, we see that the environment affects how these isotopes decay, suggesting that there is a correlation in nature, which would suggest a cause.

Also consider that if the PSR weren't the case, then it is inexplicable why just anything and everything doesn't simply exist for no reason, or why events don't simply happen uncaused. We always always always look for causes in association with events and existing things.

Premise 1 is also much more plausible than it's negation, which is another property of a strong premise. Consider Richard Taylor's story of finding a translucent ball in the forest. It is ridiculous to state that the translucent ball just exists there without a reason, and increasing the size of the ball up to the size of the universe wouldn't allay the need for an explanation of its existence.1

Attacking Logic


AA then goes after Craig's statement on the logical validity of this argument. It is true that this argument is logically airtight. It is a deductive argument by which the conclusion follows necessarily if the premises are true. AA says, "logic by itself [and by extension, philosophy] while extremely helpful and right much of the time, can sometimes get you into trouble." Well yeah, and that's why Craig explains what constitutes a good or bad argument. If AA wants to discredit Craig's arguments, he either needs to point out a logically fallacious step in the argument (which none of Craig's arguments have) or dispute one or more of the premises. Simply saying that SCIENCE® defeats logic is ridiculous. Logic is at the base of almost every, if not every, discipline, including science. Science relies on, and wouldn't exist without, the rules of inference and deduction that logic presents us with. Empirical data is useless unless there is some means of interpreting it, which means logic must exist for science to exist. That also means that science must agree with logic if the conclusions are true.

Some of AA's fellow atheists apparently attempted to tell him this, by which he responded, "The fact that something is philosophically valid or "logical" doesn't make it true." Well yeah, nobody would argue with that. Recall that Craig said that the premises in a sound argument must be true.

AA continues, "Craig goes on to discuss his other premises, but given the fact that either they require no comment or they hinge upon the first premise, I don't think I need to go through the others. I've taken the very legs of this argument out from under Craig." AA is correct that the PSR is a necessary premise for this argument (which is the definition of a deductive argument, making the statement a little redundant, but I digress). But if he's correct, then AA has just postulated that the universe doesn't need an explanation for its existence. But AA's beloved SCIENCE® goes against that assertion, as does common intuition, but we'll flush that out in the next post on the Kalaam Cosmological Argument.


1 Richard Taylor, The Cosmological Argument: A Defense, http://mind.ucsd.edu/syllabi/02-03/01w/readings/taylor.html

28 comments:

Skeptical Rationalist said...

I'm not really impressed with AA's counterargument, but not really with the argument itself in the first place. WLC, as always, is only a better apologist in that he's better at doing hat tricks with the logical fallacies.

Premise 1: Everything belongs to either of two sets: Set N of things necessary* and Set C of things caused externally. I have three things right here that I have a problem with.

First, does Set N contain anything but God? Could it? If not, one can't conclude that God is the explanation. If so, there is potential question begging going on.

Second, by setting up the pure either/or premise, there's a potentially false dichotomy. This is what I think AA is pointing out with the quantum events--not to posit them as an explanation for the universe, but simply to establish that the premise, strictly speaking, is false. I'm not saying he's correct--there's too much with what we don't know about the structure and laws of the universe at that level for me to go there. Still, if you're going to claim there's a true dichotomy, I'm thinking that any doubt isn't good for the premise.

Third, it's loading the premise with the word "external" as regards causes. I seem to recall other discussions of cosmological arguments where Craig himself (and I could be wrong here) states that things can be self-caused. I'm not necessarily convinced a self-caused event is a logically coherent concept, but it is potentially a self-contradiction on WLC's part. Regardless, having that adjective in there, "external," makes my question-begging meter twitch.

Premise 2: Excuse me while I go get a screwdriver. My question-begging meter just exploded.

First, what is "God?" What qualities does it have? It seems to me that the god described in the Bible is a very poor candidate for universal explanatory power--what does being pleased by the smell of blood have to do with the price of tea in China, or any other of Yahweh's myriad idiosyncrasies the book describes at such length? How can anyone know what universe-causing attributes this entity does or doesn't possess?

I asked a hypothetical question in an earlier thread**: Let's say in a few years, the scientists working on the LHC announce that their newest discoveries give strong indications of a naturalistic explanation of what caused the universe to begin to exist and how--and that it isn't anything one might label godlike. What then?

Suffice it to say I don't consider Premise 2 uncontroversial as long as it's an open question.

Premises 3-4: There's a fallacy here in describing the universe as a "thing." The universe is the set of all things (except presumably, God) and a set cannot be a member of itself--that is to say, it is not necessarily itself a member of set C.

As with most of Craig's cosmology arguments, the whole thing basically boils down to:
1) Everything except God has a cause
2) The Universe is not God
3) Therefore the universe has a cause.

It is, to say the least, unconvincing.


*again with necessary existence blithely declared to be a possessable attribute.

**It was immediately followed by a wall of text from AA, no worries.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

Not to mention that the scientific data really doesn't support his claim. Another example that has been cited by some atheists is radioactive decay. But, as a friend pointed out, we see that the environment affects how these isotopes decay, suggesting that there is a correlation in nature, which would suggest a cause.

Yes, bombarding fissile materials with particles does induce decay. That's what makes nuclear power plants and A-bombs work. However, "spontaneous," as it were, radioactive decay is a separate phenomenon, and observations are too consistent across changing conditions for anything of the available candidates. Things like stellar neutrinos and cosmic rays have been disproven--both are outshined by orders of magnitude by the effects of nuclear fission itself and nothing out of the ordinary results, vis-a-vis atomic decay.

While your friend is technically wrong about the science, I'm not necessarily coming to AA's defense here. It depends on whether you'd class "weak nuclear force" under the heading of externally caused, self-caused, or an uncaused event. I'm not intending to belabor the point.

bossmanham said...

First, does Set N contain anything but God? Could it?

Presumably not.

If not, one can't conclude that God is the explanation.

That's not so either. Can you give me one example of a necessarily existing concept, such as numbers or sets, that are causally active?

Second, by setting up the pure either/or premise, there's a potentially false dichotomy

What either/or premise? That it either has a reason or it doesn't? That seems to cover all the bases.

I seem to recall other discussions of cosmological arguments where Craig himself (and I could be wrong here) states that things can be self-caused

I think you're wrong there.

First, what is "God?" What qualities does it have?

It's not relevant to define God here (you don't have to define a sufficient reason to recognize one), but I'm sure Anselm's traditional definition will do.

bossmanham said...

There's a fallacy here in describing the universe as a "thing." The universe is the set of all things (except presumably, God) and a set cannot be a member of itself--that is to say, it is not necessarily itself a member of set C.

Uhm...a set can be an individual member of its own set. You can see that if you examine the power set. In other words, the universe itself can be in a set by itself (though composed of subsets).

Jc_Freak: said...

SR,

Hi.

Ok, your response to premise one: I take your main argument here to be your point about quantum physics. I agree with what Brennon says in the post, but I think what you say here: "Still, if you're going to claim there's a true dichotomy, I'm thinking that any doubt isn't good for the premise." First of all, we are dealing with premise here, not conclusion. A premise doesn't need absolute certainty to accepted. Yes, it is better for there to be no doubt, but ultimately the thing to avoid is a "reasonable doubt", and I would say that premise one accomplishes this.

Premise two: Thank you for attacking this premise the hardest, for this is the premise to be attacked. However, it is still important we are dealing with premise rather than conclusion here.

It is incredibly important to note that Craig, in this presentation, is not arguing for the existence of God with the Cosmological Argument from Contingency. He is defining the argument in terms of form. Considering the solidity of the logic, and the self-evidentness of the first premise, the argument is designed to rise or fall based off of how well one argues for the second premise.

You see, arguments don't try to prove their premises. The validity of the premise is determined outside of it. After all, this is an argument, not a proof. The argument can still be sound and wrong, and whether or not that is true is based off of how sound this premise is.

Premise 3: The universe is a physical thing. Just because it has all physical things doesn't negate that it is a physical thing. Brennon's point of the power set is an excellent example.

Besides, we technically don't know if there are no physical things outside of the universe, so the universe being defined as "the set of all physical things" isn't a true definition.

Jc_Freak: said...

Also, since everyone else did two comments, I felt left out. So...
SECOND COMMENT

zilch said...

My basic problem with all such arguments is this: logic and syllogisms will only take you so far, in the absence of evidence. And at some point regarding the origin of everything, we run up against stuff we simply have no evidence for and thus cannot understand.

The various arguments for the existence of God based on syllogisms all boil down to the same thing:

1) We don't understand how the Universe came to be.
2) Therefore, God.
3) We don't need to explain God, because He's magic.

My inclination is to simply admit that I don't know. It's simpler, and it explains everything just as well.

cheers from sunny Vienna, zilch

Skeptical Rationalist said...

JC and BM--

Thank you for your feedback. You're correct, JC, that my biggest problem with this particular argument is premise 2. Without that, what's your point? I'm perfectly willing to accept that the universe may have been caused by *something,* but I'm not willing to jump to conclusions about what that something may have been.

Jc_Freak: said...

SR,

My point is simply this: sometimes the point of such arguments isn't to prove to you that God exists, but that God must exist if I can demonstrate A. Then that person would go on to demonstrate A. That is the purpose for this argument. Anyone who would present it would then have to go on and demonstrate why they think God must be the cause, but to do so would require a separate argument.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

Anyone who would present it would then have to go on and demonstrate why they think God must be the cause, but to do so would require a separate argument.

Then what in blazes is the point of this? Seriously, why don't we skip to the main event? I'd love to see some demonstration that God exists.

Jc_Freak: said...

Then what in blazes is the point of this? Seriously, why don't we skip to the main event? I'd love to see some demonstration that God exists.


Brennon is responding to AA's assault on a diadactical article by someone who debates. The reason we don't skip to the main event is because that is not the context of the dialogue. If you would like to hear arguments for premise 2, fine, but first: would you concede that the existance of God would logically follow if premise 2 could be established?

Skeptical Rationalist said...

would you concede that the existence of God would logically follow if premise 2 could be established?

The existence of God would need to be established before Premise 2 is able to be considered.

bossmanham said...

The existence of God would need to be established before Premise 2 is able to be considered.

Um, no, seeing as this is an argument for His existence.

Skeptical Rationalist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skeptical Rationalist said...

Then your argument fails because you're completely, blatantly, nakedly begging the question. You declare victory right there in premise 2. That's all you need. BOOM, God is the explanation, all else is just fooforaw. It's ridiculous.

Anyway, JC seemed to be under some bizarre impression that this wasn't an argument for existence per se, so I was answering his question as it was put to me.

bossmanham said...

Then your argument fails because you're completely, blatantly, nakedly begging the question. You declare victory right there in premise 2.

No, it's simply stating the negation of what the atheist claims. In response to premise 1, the atheist says that the universe doesn't need an explanation for its existence. So we have statements:

(a) If atheism is true, then the universe has no explanation of its existence.

The theist simply rejects that, and offers the logically equivalent statement:

(b) If the universe has an explanation of its existence, then atheism is not true.

Those statements are logically equivalent, so if the theist is begging the question, then so is the atheist.

Saying (b) is the same as the second premise "If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God."

As one eventually reaches with the Kalam argument, since the universe is all space and time, then the cause of the universe must be timeless, immaterial, non-physical, extremely powerful, etc.

Jc_Freak: said...

"Anyway, JC seemed to be under some bizarre impression that this wasn't an argument for existence per se, so I was answering his question as it was put to me."

That's not what I said. What I said is that the argument cannot stand alone. It builds on another argument.

"The existence of God would need to be established before Premise 2 is able to be considered."

Why must God's actual existence be proven before the idea that God is the best explanation for the universe? Don't you also have to insist that the universe needs an explanation? (which is really what the argument is arguing).

Skeptical Rationalist said...

No, it's simply stating the negation of what the atheist claims. In response to premise 1, the atheist says that the universe doesn't need an explanation for its existence. So we have statements:

(a) If atheism is true, then the universe has no explanation of its existence.

The theist simply rejects that, and offers the logically equivalent statement:

(b) If the universe has an explanation of its existence, then atheism is not true.


You couldn't possibly be more wrong. First, deal with your premises on their own terms. You need to be supporting your position rather than using your pet definition of atheism to muddy the waters. You are pulling this straw man completely out of nowhere, it’s not a part of the argument, and you'll recall I had rather more responses which had nothing to do with this. I'll give you a rule of thumb: if your statement includes the phrase "the atheist says," you're probably propping up an exaggerated, hay-stuffed opponent.

Second, (a) is patently false. I'd happily, (for the sake of argument) accept as an improvement on premise 1, "Everything that exists has an explanation for its existence," full stop, without layering in whys and wherefores. In which case I would be explicitly acknowledging that the universe has an explanation of its existence, so your silly little caricature of an atheistic position falls apart right there. What that explanation is would be the crux of the matter, and there are scientists spending their careers actually researching it, even though they know in all probability it may not be found in our lifetimes. I'll take that route every day and twice on Sunday, rather than making up infinite variations on "magic man done it."

As one eventually reaches with the Kalam argument, since the universe is all space and time, then the cause of the universe must be timeless, immaterial, non-physical, extremely powerful, etc.

No, the Kalam argument ends with "the universe had a cause," and as I said, I'm perfectly willing to accept the notion that our universe may have some cause. Anything further doesn't follow from the given premises. At best it is pure speculation, at worst the most classic Argument from Ignorance imaginable: "we don't know, therefore [one's chosen conception of] God exists."


Jc_Freak: said...

"Anyway, JC seemed to be under some bizarre impression that this wasn't an argument for existence per se, so I was answering his question as it was put to me."

That's not what I said. What I said is that the argument cannot stand alone. It builds on another argument.


You said, "Sometimes the point of such arguments isn't to prove to you that God exists, but that God must exist if I can demonstrate A. Then that person would go on to demonstrate A."

Why must God's actual existence be proven before the idea that God is the best explanation for the universe? Don't you also have to insist that the universe needs an explanation? (which is really what the argument is arguing).

I'm really having a hard time grasping your contention that something which may or may not actually exist could be seriously entered into consideration as the explanation for anything. You're free to believe that God is the best explanation, but that belief is only as justified as the support you can provide for that belief.

Why don't you take your best shot and I'll tell you if it's anything different from the same Arguments from Ignorance I've heard a thousand times.

Jc_Freak: said...

"Why don't you take your best shot and I'll tell you if it's anything different from the same Arguments from Ignorance I've heard a thousand times."

I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but the arguments from either side are arguments from ignorance since we are discussing something which is beyond our observation. So that is hardly a fair criticism.

Also, you didn't answer my earlier question: do you agree with the rest of the argument in that the universe needs some kind of explanation?

Skeptical Rationalist said...

I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but the arguments from either side are arguments from ignorance since we are discussing something which is beyond our observation. So that is hardly a fair criticism.

You don't understand what the actual fallacy of Argument from Ignorance entails. I use it very specifically. Trying to tar both sides with the same brush is only an attempt to shift the burden of proof--this thread is about a specific argument in favor of theism. I don't have to be peddling something of my own in order to not buy what you're selling.

do you agree with the rest of the argument in that the universe needs some kind of explanation?

What I have nothing to add beyond my previous comment @ August 21, 2010 12:56 AM. Second paragraph, look for "I'd happily, (for the sake of argument) accept as an improvement on premise 1, 'Everything that exists has an explanation for its existence'" etc.

bossmanham said...

SR,

You couldn't possibly be more wrong. First, deal with your premises on their own terms

As often is the case, you're having trouble following the logic of the argument. I'm only going to post on this once, as I don't have an unlimited amount of time to deal with this stuff.

Look at the first premise. What does it say? "1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause."

This applies to the universe. Either it exists because of an external cause OR it exists because of the necessity of its own nature. If you deny that the former is true, then the latter must be the case. If that is true, then statement (a) must be the case. The reason the universe exists is because it must exist.

Premise two must be the case if the universe has an explanation for its existence, because that explanation, by definition, must be timeless, immaterial, non-physical, extremely powerful, etc.

"Everything that exists has an explanation for its existence," full stop, without layering in whys and wherefores. In which case I would be explicitly acknowledging that the universe has an explanation of its existence

If atheism is true, then it must be an aspect of the universe itself that causes itself to exist, ergo the universe is its own explanation; unless you're accepting the proposition that immaterial causes can exist. Are you?

so your silly little caricature of an atheistic position falls apart right there

I'm not the naturalist, you are.

What that explanation is would be the crux of the matter

The explanation would be that the universe exists by some aspect of its own nature. Therefore it wold have existed eternally in some state (whether quantum or not) and therefore would simply exist. Otherwise we're getting into the immaterial, which these scientists can't examine.

No, the Kalam argument ends with "the universe had a cause,

And as the cause of the material world, it would then have to exhibit those attributes. Please try to think beyond the sycophantic, lame, and irrational responses found on the village atheist websites. We're dealing with a logical argument. Try to think logically.

Jc_Freak: said...

"You don't understand what the actual fallacy of Argument from Ignorance entails. I use it very specifically. Trying to tar both sides with the same brush is only an attempt to shift the burden of proof--this thread is about a specific argument in favor of theism. I don't have to be peddling something of my own in order to not buy what you're selling."

I understand the fallacy. My point is with any positive assertion as to the origin of the universe we are going to have try to explain phenomenon that is beyond explanation. Yes, you are not making an argument from ignorance by disagreeing with me, nor did I mean that. But any positive assertion that can be made must be made without tangible evidence.

I would say, though, that the theory of God coincides with what little evidence we have than the opposite. So let's see what we need for something to be a sufficient explanation for the origin of the cosmos:
1. Something static: I.e. something that does not require a cause. It simply always was, and does not grow.
2. Something powerful:At least by our standards. It must be strong enough to cause the universe to come into being.
3. Something intelligent: This comes back to the teleological argument, but the it does seem like the universe is crafted. I have yet to see a theory of a mechanical creator that doesn't somehow go against the first two requirements.

Personally, I find it difficult to call such a universal cause something other than "God".

Skeptical Rationalist said...

As often is the case, you're having trouble following the logic of the argument. I'm only going to post on this once, as I don't have an unlimited amount of time to deal with this stuff.

And as is often the case, you confuse not understanding the argument with pointing out how your argument, premise by premise, is a total crock.

Look at the first premise. What does it say? "1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause."

And I'm already on record as saying that you're stacking the deck with a potentially false dichotomy, and I reject your premise on that basis.

If you deny that the former is true, then the latter must be the case. If that is true, then statement (a) must be the case. The reason the universe exists is because it must exist.

Because, as I said, I entirely reject your premise, I do not accept your contention of what I must or must not believe. I don't pretend to know the ultimate nature of the universe, and I do not lose sleep over that.

Premise two must be the case if the universe has an explanation for its existence, because that explanation, by definition, must be timeless, immaterial, non-physical, extremely powerful, etc.

Thank you for finally explicating a fundamental premise of your argument. Please explain how you you have determined that your entity of choice possesses these characteristics, or whether it has any interest in human events, the ability to punish or reward humans for their moral choices, et cetera. I see no indication you're not simply propping up the religion you already believed before you ever heard of William Lane Craig or any of his hogwash.

Please try to think beyond the sycophantic, lame, and irrational responses found on the village atheist websites.

Please. I'm responding to your argument and these ad hominem slights are beneath you even if they had a shred of truth.

In any case, it's rich coming from someone whose Plantinga & Craig copy-and-paste skills are as sharp as I've ever seen. I could just as easily say perhaps--no, definitely you should pull your head out of the ass of sycophantic, lame, and irrational Christian apologia.

bossmanham said...

And as is often the case, you confuse not understanding the argument with pointing out how your argument, premise by premise, is a total crock.

But you haven't done that. If anything, you've substantiated the premises.

And I'm already on record as saying that you're stacking the deck with a potentially false dichotomy, and I reject your premise on that basis.

What other option would there be here? It's incumbent upon you to refute the PSR, as it's employing the law of the excluded middle.

Simply saying you don't like it isn't refuting anything.

Because, as I said, I entirely reject your premise, I do not accept your contention of what I must or must not believe. I don't pretend to know the ultimate nature of the universe, and I do not lose sleep over that.

Regardless, there are only two options for any existing thing. Either it must exist because of its own nature, or its explanation rests in another preexisting thing.

Please explain how you you have determined that your entity of choice possesses these characteristics

Because it is the cause of the universe. The thing that causes all of space, time, and matter to come into being cannot itself be in space, time, or made of matter. I'd add that the being must be personal as well, since the only causally active immaterial being would be a personal one (numbers and concepts don't cause anything).

or whether it has any interest in human events

Not relevant to this argument.

the ability to punish or reward humans for their moral choices

Well certainly this being would have the ability to do so, but this isn't relevant to the argument either. Don't let red herrings cloud your thinking.

I see no indication you're not simply propping up the religion you already believed before you ever heard of William Lane Craig or any of his hogwash.

I'm defending the worldview I am convinced is true, yes....and?

Please. I'm responding to your argument and these ad hominem slights are beneath you even if they had a shred of truth.

No, you aren't responding to the argument. You're bringing up a lot of red herrings.

In any case, it's rich coming from someone whose Plantinga & Craig copy-and-paste skills are as sharp as I've ever seen

I'm certainly using ideas these men helped formulate. I think I have a good enough grasp on them to speak of them without cutting and pasting. I mean I can't just use canned responses all the time because each encounter I have is unique.

I could just as easily say perhaps--no, definitely you should pull your head out of the ass of sycophantic, lame, and irrational Christian apologia.

I have a rule of decorum that does not allow this kind of language here.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

What other option would there be here? It's incumbent upon you to refute the PSR, as it's employing the law of the excluded middle.

No, Law of the Excluded Middle states, in essence, A or ~A. So, if you want your premise to conform to the LEM, pick one:

1a. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either by necessity of its own nature or not by necessity.

1b. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either an external cause or not an external cause.

But as stated, you've set it up as Category A and B, with the stipulation if ~A-> B, if B->~A.

Now, I'm far from convinced that any such thing as "necessary existence" is even a coherent or exemplified concept in any possible world, and if you want to enter your premise into consideration then the burden of proof is on you to sell it, and like I said, I think it's a crock and I'm not buying.

Dismissing objections as "simply saying you don't like it" doesn't earn you any points either.

As for these supposed "red herrings" that you think are so irrelevant, you are the one who said that the best explanation for the universe is God. There are billions of different meanings for that tiny three letter word, and I want to know how you imagine you've obtained direct, verifiable knowledge of this being's properties to make that statement. As for the later questions? They're not red herrings, they're deliberate non sequiters, as in, things which do not and cannot follow from your argument.

I have a rule of decorum that does not allow this kind of language here.

Then leave off the ad hominems and deal with what I'm saying and don't pooh-pooh it by where you think it came from (it's false, to boot.) As it is, your language is no less insulting.

If you're willing to offer an apology, I'll do the same. I do actually like you and enjoy our back-and-forth.

bossmanham said...

Your 1a and 1b are essentially saying the same thing. A non-external cause would be something about the nature of the thing (in this case the universe) that means it exists necessarily. Further, to cause itself, the universe would have had to exist before it existed...which is ridiculous. The other option, other than being caused, is to simply exist necessarily. Ergo, premise 1.

Dismissing objections as "simply saying you don't like it" doesn't earn you any points either.

Your objection was saying that you didn't like the PSR. You haven't, as of yet, given any reason to discount it.

There are billions of different meanings for that tiny three letter word

With Ockham's razor, this argument would lead to the God of monotheism, of which there are three religions who all describe Him similarly as the being which none greater can be conceived.

I want to know how you imagine you've obtained direct, verifiable knowledge of this being's properties to make that statement.

This argument leads to the conclusion that this being exists. One doesn't need direct empirical input of the being for that, thought I have personal experiences with the Creator.

This argument does use empirical support in viewing the contingent nature of all of reality. From that, one reasons to the existence of the being. Similar deductions have been used to hypothesize the existence of electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks, etc.

They're not red herrings, they're deliberate non sequiters, as in, things which do not and cannot follow from your argument.

You misspelled sequitur. Furthermore, they have nothing to do with this argument (the definition of a red herring). Ergo, they don't do anything to call the argument into question.

Then leave off the ad hominems and deal with what I'm saying and don't pooh-pooh it by where you think it came from (it's false, to boot.) As it is, your language is no less insulting.

I didn't use an ad hominem against you. I asked you to think and not to rely on the bad reasoning of the village atheist sites, all of which I've heard before. I also didn't cuss. This is my blog, and if you want to comment on it, stop cussing.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

You use "decorum" as a shield for which kind of insults fly and which don't. Then I think I'll just leave off by saying what respect you might have earned no longer exists.

Cheers, I hope your daughter escapes your indoctrination some day, the poisonous doctrine that she deserves to go to hell already.

bossmanham said...

You can think what you want, but my rules are clearly stated right above the comment box, SR: "Leave any criticism or compliment you like, just keep it clean."

I don't care if you insult me, just keep it clean.

And who said I believe my daughter deserves hell already? Another straw man? Are you capable of anything else?