That pesky cosmological argument

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


The cosmological argument goes something like this:

 

  • Things exist.

 

 

  • It is possible for those things to not exist.

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

  • The uncaused cause must be God. [1]

 

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

~~Peter

————————————————————————————————————-
Further reading and footnotes:

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

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

6 comments

  1. Hello, Peter! Firstly, your description of the Cosmological Argument is not one that I am entirely familiar with. I use the following:

    COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT:
    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
    2. The universe began to exist.
    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

    My first assertion is that the universe could not have come out of nothing without the intervention of an uncaused being. I agree with Pagels, the universe did spring into existence out of nothingness – God caused it to spring from nothingness. And with your reference to quantum theory and fluctuations, particles can spring out of energy fields, not nothingness (i.e. the conservation of mass and energy). My second assertion is that time started when the universe; as soon as something began to exist, so did time, as time had nothing to measure before something was even there (as infinite time in the past creates an absurdity – infinity doesn’t exist in the natural word, and there would be an infinite amount of time with absolutely no events, no relative starting point with which to measure time from). The universe has always been within the bounds of space-time. God is outside of space-time, and exists without the bounds of time, therefore able to be uncaused (saying he was created by someone or something else puts an event within the bounds of time, thus creating an absurdity).

    Honestly, Peter, I have met many people like you. If my experience has served me well, you will disagree with my points, and refuse to consider the idea of a God existing. So allow me to appeal to your heart, instead of your mind. We all suck. We’ve lied to someone at some point, maybe hurt someone’s feelings, etc. We are all guilty of transgression in some form or another – and we feel guilty for it! If a God didn’t exist, why should I care if I steal something from the local grocer, or shoot my next door neighbor? They aren’t me, and I have no reason to feel guilty, given I’m just gonna rot in the ground when I die. Might as well f*ck things up as I please and enjoy myself while I can. God is out there, and he’s been knocking at your heart since you’ve been conscious. Jesus (God incarnate) came down as a perfect human being so we may be freed of our transgressions (sins). All we have to do is ask, and His forgiveness is ours. Surely you have thought about yourself post-death, no?

    “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
    ~Revelations 3:20

    Your Humble Servant,
    Chaz

  2. // particles can spring out of energy fields, not nothingness//
    This is false. Particles do and can come out of nothing. Nothing meaning no mass/energy (which they do) and under quantum theory they can come out of nothing as in no time/space, mass/energy or anything else.

    / (i.e. the conservation of mass and energy)/
    I do not know how full your knowledge is on quantum mechanics thus I will try to argue in an intermediate level. The CoE is not violated due to the fact that on everyday scales the particles have positive/negative net energy ergo they must dissipate or they WILL violate CoE. But since the universe has 0 net energy (matter/energy is positive and gravity is negative and they cancel directly) it does not need to dissipate thus it can come from nothing at all. They do come out of energy fields on regular scales because that is all we have but the nature of them allows them to come from nothing nothing nothing!

    // time started when the universe//
    If we ignore the multiverse theory I agree.

    // infinity doesn’t exist in the natural word//
    False. Singularities are points of 0 spacial extent and infinite density thus the ripping of Spacetime.

    // God is outside of space-time//
    Kind of a big leap don’t you think? You are just saying this with nothing to back it up. The Greeks though Zeus was on Mt. Olympus, ancient tribes thought gods were in nature. There is no reason to assert this.

    Conclusion to Cosmological argument: Quantum fluctuations can create matter/energy out of nothing at all and they can exist timelessly like god thus they can create the universe. Essentially QF’s are god.

    // you will disagree with my points, and refuse to consider the idea of a God existing.//
    I will disagree with your points if they are false (which they are). I would like there to be a god but the fact is that there is just no physical need for one. I am willing to consider god if you provide adequate evidence but so far neither you nor any other theist I have seen has.

    //S o allow me to appeal to your heart, instead of your mind.//
    I don’t work that way. I look at the evidence objectively and try to not let my emotions hinder me in this respect but sure, go ahead.

    // If a God didn’t exist, why should I care if I steal something from the local grocer, or shoot my next door neighbor? //
    The former: It is socially unacceptable as well as the fact that, in the evolutionary tree, taking things from others hinders their development and is not good for survival.
    The latter: Killing someone is obviously not socially acceptable but also, in the evolutionary standpoint, it hurts the society and thus evolution provides a form of objective morality (in a way). Sam Harris has written a lot on this.

    // Surely you have thought about yourself post-death, no?//
    I have and what I see, there is nothing. I cease to be and that is a very soothing thought. I would hate eternal life.

    Also, extend my argument against the fine tuning argument.

    ~~Yours truly,
    Peter

  3. Chaz:

    “So allow me to appeal to your heart, instead of your mind.”

    Right, because thinking critically is overrated. Also, you know that your heart just pumps blood right?

    “We all suck. We’ve lied to someone at some point, maybe hurt someone’s feelings, etc. We are all guilty of transgression in some form or another – and we feel guilty for it! If a God didn’t exist, why should I care if I steal something from the local grocer, or shoot my next door neighbor? They aren’t me, and I have no reason to feel guilty, given I’m just gonna rot in the ground when I die. Might as well f*ck things up as I please and enjoy myself while I can.”

    Yea, you could, nothing is intrinsically wrong or right, but there are things you probably shouldn’t do. These are mostly things that could decrease your relative and/or inclusive fitness, so they’re not good for you evolutionarily.

    I’m an atheist, and I feel guilty when I do things that I think are wrong, but not because I think God will punish me. The bible isn’t a very good moral code anyway; do you, Chaz, believe that it’s okay to have sex with your daughter, kill people for being gay, or discriminate against disabled people? Well according to the bible, God is okay with all this and more. As far as I know, nobody has ever been killed in the name of atheism, while countless people have been killed in Jesus’ name.

    “God is out there, and he’s been knocking at your heart since you’ve been conscious. Jesus (God incarnate) came down as a perfect human being so we may be freed of our transgressions (sins). All we have to do is ask, and His forgiveness is ours. Surely you have thought about yourself post-death, no?”

    No, I (and I’m assuming Peter thinks this too), realize that I lose consciousness when I die, and then begin decomposition, and am fine with this. Seriously, why would anyone want to live forever? You would get bored pretty quickly, and then what would you do for the rest of eternity? People are afraid of ceasing to exist (well, if your body still exists, I guess you would still exist too, but you know what I mean), and the idea of an afterlife comforts them.

  4. I am not assuming they are, I know they are. They are merely energy fluctuations in nothingness or a vacuum. Random just means without conscious decision so the way one would argue that quantum fluctuations were not random was if they said there was a little man controlling them or something was organizing them which is provably false.

Comments are closed.