11 votes

The existence of God and the beginning of the universe

40 comments

  1. [13]
    PapaNachos
    (edited )
    Link
    I tried. I really tried to understand what the fuck he was saying, but got completely lost as he jumped back and forth over the line between philosophy and science while rambling incomprehensibly...
    • Exemplary

    I tried. I really tried to understand what the fuck he was saying, but got completely lost as he jumped back and forth over the line between philosophy and science while rambling incomprehensibly about infinity.

    I'm even familiar with some of the mathematical concepts he was talking about. It didn't help. And I've never seen anyone use the ¥ symbols in mathematics, except when talking about money. I tried looking it up to see if I was missing something and the best I could figure out is that some christian apologists decided to start using their own terminology for the infinity that represents god, because it's more infinite than infinity. Different scales of infinity are definitely a thing in real math, but there were a bunch of sort of math-adjacent musings about god intermixed in the discussions which reeks of motivated reasoning posing as math instead of, you know, actual math.

    As an ex-christian, now-atheist this shit frustrates the hell out of me. It's like he thinks that if he uses enough jargon eventually god will poof into existence and give us atheists a wedgie.

    Edit:
    I'm pretty sure his argument sums to up "math" says infinity is impossible, but god is infinite anyway, therefore god exists. Checkmate atheists.

    Edit 2:
    I skipped past the rambling about infinity to try to get to the rest of what he was saying and the rest of his argument is that astrophysicists haven't figured everything out about the origin of the universe. Therefore god. It's fucking wild. He wasted all that time just rambling about nothing to say

    "In fact, I think that it can be plausibly argued that the cause of the universe must be a personal Creator"

    Fucking incredible. God of the gaps. After all that crap about infinity and quantum theory he just goes for the god of the gaps. "We don't know yet, so it must be god". He doesn't back it up. He doesn't explain why. He doesn't provide any evidence. He just says it and we're supposed to accept it.

    What an enormous waste of time

    22 votes
    1. [2]
      etiolation
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Trouble not, brother. I understand your vexation. This argument is a lot of hawk, only to spit out, “I accept the Prime Mover argument, therefore my guy did it,” on the sidewalk outside a Baptist...
      • Exemplary

      Trouble not, brother. I understand your vexation. This argument is a lot of hawk, only to spit out, “I accept the Prime Mover argument, therefore my guy did it,” on the sidewalk outside a Baptist church. William Lane Craig is a Christian apologist, creationist, and partisan of the moral perspective that spawned the Yahweh stories. (For example, when Craig acknowledges a problem with his god directing genocide of the Canaanites, the problem is this: the Canaanites didn’t run away fast enough.) These are the motives behind the motivated reasoning you are detecting.

      It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating because the passage obscures his objectives in the guise of wrestling with the Grand Questions, rubbing elbow patches with history’s finest philosophers and sharpest scientists—yet the tweed jacket covers a preacher who believes in the historicity of Adam. Imagine attending a seminar titled, “Dating the Invention of Photography,” where you’re shown the shortcomings in Newton’s Optics, treated to a comprehensive disquisition on photochemistry, and edified about pre-18th-century photograms. Then the keynote speaker concludes, “Based on the foregoing, it’s obvious that the ‘Shroud of Turin’ captured the likeness of the Christ, thank you.” I think I understand why you call it a waste of time. It’s an abuse of our time to start with the conclusion that a particular, walking, talking, thinking, face-endowed, Bible-inspiring dude exists outside of time, but to stow that away, ignoring the bizarre and hilarious implications of that assertion in favor of deducing toward the universe requiring a cause. This he does, telling us that, because he places his dude-conception beyond the limits of our understanding, merely demonstrating that our understanding has limits keeps his belief from being irrational. It takes time to expose all of the problems with Craig’s argument. If that’s your kink, you can find them addressed here, for instance.

      There’s a theory in psychology called the “asymmetric model of belief.” It posits that it takes more mental work to unbelieve than to believe, that we initially accept every statement we seek to understand, and hold that belief until its truth value is resolved. So, doubting is more effortful, which would be one reason why unexamined beliefs proliferate. If this is true, it could explain why discussions like the linked argument are so exhausting. It would feel like being asked to retrace your path to unbelief all over again, because to engage with it, in a sense, you are. It’s frustrating when the author, as judged by his larger project, might not warrant the time.

      15 votes
      1. PapaNachos
        Link Parent
        I wasn't aware Craig was such a well known quantity. Thank you for so succinctly summarizing some of my problems with this article. As I was reading it, his writing felt like it has the aesthetics...

        I wasn't aware Craig was such a well known quantity. Thank you for so succinctly summarizing some of my problems with this article.

        As I was reading it, his writing felt like it has the aesthetics of a well researched paper, like something in a reputable academic journal. But rather than trying to provide evidence and explanation for an extremely complex topic and communicate with the audience, it was trying to confuse the reader until they gave up and said 'quantum theory? advanced calculus? spacetime? this dude sounds too smart for me, he must be right'. Then, while you were distracted and doubting your own intelligence, he would slip in unsupported claims that were the actual basis of his argument. Like rhetorical slight of hand.

        I find it deeply ironic that he's bold enough to claim of someone else that the emperor has no clothes.

        8 votes
    2. Diff
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      It's mojibake. Check out the symbol in the next sentence or two. The encoding is wrong and the non-ascii symbols have all been scrambled. If you’ve ever read an article where apostrophes turn...

      And I've never seen anyone use the ¥ symbols in mathematics, except when talking about money.

      It's mojibake. Check out the symbol in the next sentence or two. The encoding is wrong and the non-ascii symbols have all been scrambled. If you’ve ever read an article where apostrophes turn into random strings of symbols, it’s the same thing.

      7 votes
    3. RNG
      Link Parent
      It's more along the lines of the cause of the universe is outside of time, therefore is atemporal, the cause has either more or the same amount of power as was put into the universe system,...

      the rest of his argument is that astrophysicists haven't figured everything out about the origin of the universe. Therefore god.

      It's more along the lines of the cause of the universe is outside of time, therefore is atemporal, the cause has either more or the same amount of power as was put into the universe system, therefore omnipotent.

      His goal is to show that one can logically derive the divine attributes from the origin of the universe philosophically.

      4 votes
    4. [3]
      mrbig
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I must respectful disagree with the attribution of an exemplary label to a comment that criticizes an argument that the commenter didn't actually read (by their own admission). Edit: huh... I...

      I must respectful disagree with the attribution of an exemplary label to a comment that criticizes an argument that the commenter didn't actually read (by their own admission).

      Edit: huh... I don't deserve this exemplary either. Come on, people.

      6 votes
      1. [2]
        PapaNachos
        Link Parent
        Oh I read it. I spent 2 hours trying to read and understand what it was saying. I think it's nonsense dressed up in fancy and extremely obtuse language to give it an air of legitimacy. But I...

        Oh I read it. I spent 2 hours trying to read and understand what it was saying. I think it's nonsense dressed up in fancy and extremely obtuse language to give it an air of legitimacy. But I definitely read it.

        16 votes
        1. RNG
          Link Parent
          I think this is largely due to how neglected philosophy is in public education, but this is a pretty standard deductive argument where premises are given and a conclusion is logically derived from...

          I think this is largely due to how neglected philosophy is in public education, but this is a pretty standard deductive argument where premises are given and a conclusion is logically derived from those premises. While occasionally a little philosophically dense, this video is a fairly accessible introduction to the argument:

          https://youtu.be/eOfVBqGPwi0

          1 vote
    5. [5]
      iiv
      Link Parent
      I understand that you might feel strongly about this, but calling it "rambling" seems like bad faith. The "rambling" is a real argument made sincerely. You also misrepresent his argument, look at...

      I skipped past the rambling about infinity to try to get to the rest of what he was saying and the rest of his argument is that astrophysicists haven't figured everything out about the origin of the universe. Therefore god. It's fucking wild. He wasted all that time just rambling about nothing to say

      I understand that you might feel strongly about this, but calling it "rambling" seems like bad faith. The "rambling" is a real argument made sincerely. You also misrepresent his argument, look at the sentences after "In fact, I think that it can be plausibly argued that the cause of the universe must be a personal Creator".

      After all that crap about infinity and quantum theory he just goes for the god of the gaps

      He doesn't.

      "We don't know yet, so it must be god"

      He doesn't say that.

      He doesn't back it up. He doesn't explain why

      He does, in the following paragraph.

      What an enormous waste of time

      It is a waste of time if you've decided what to think about it even before finishing it.

      4 votes
      1. [4]
        jcdl
        Link Parent
        Which sentences? What does he say? What does he say, then? What is said in that paragraph? This sort of “go reread it until you get it” shit is really unhelpful and comes across as smug and...

        look at the sentences after

        Which sentences?

        He doesn't.

        What does he say?

        He doesn't say that.

        What does he say, then?

        He does, in the following paragraph.

        What is said in that paragraph?

        This sort of “go reread it until you get it” shit is really unhelpful and comes across as smug and superior in the worst way. You are contributing nothing in this thread.

        8 votes
        1. [3]
          iiv
          Link Parent
          Have you read it? I don't know what to say other than that I didn't see any support for PapaNachros' interpretation in the article at all. All your questions can be answered by reading the same...

          This sort of “go reread it until you get it” shit is really unhelpful

          Have you read it? I don't know what to say other than that I didn't see any support for PapaNachros' interpretation in the article at all. All your questions can be answered by reading the same paragraph that the comment I responded to quoted, it's the penultimate paragraph of the article, I won't quote it here.

          You are contributing nothing in this thread.

          I won't say you're contributing nothing, but I'd suggest arguing against the arguments in the article rather than me.

          The article is very simple: it has premises and a conclusion. If you think one or several premises are wrong, say so. If you think all the premises are true, but that they don't support the conclusion, say so. Don't insult the author by accusing him of arguing in bad faith ("It's like he thinks that if he uses enough jargon eventually god will poof into existence and give us atheists a wedgie"), misrepresenting his argument (maybe not on purpose, but still) and indirectly criticising the person who posted the article ("What an enormous waste of time").

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            jcdl
            Link Parent
            I read it and watched the videos posted here in full. I don’t appreciate the accusations in this thread of who hasn’t read what. Again, it’s really unhelpful and smug. The arguments are built on...

            I read it and watched the videos posted here in full. I don’t appreciate the accusations in this thread of who hasn’t read what. Again, it’s really unhelpful and smug.

            The arguments are built on abstract and fundamentally unknowable premises. Dr. Craig is a skillful debater and certainly knows his philosophy, but for me at least, it’s not possible to read him objectively.

            To clarify on your contributions, or rather lack thereof, you aren’t adding any of your own perspective or sharing how you read his arguments. Just more of this shit:

            All your questions can be answered by reading the same paragraph that the comment I responded to quoted, it's the penultimate paragraph of the article, I won't quote it here.

            To me, that feels exactly the same as telling me to go read The Bible. It’s really off putting.

            8 votes
            1. iiv
              Link Parent
              I feel like I've read a completely different article than many other here have. I also feel like the "Exemplary" comment I initially replied to is so far from exemplary that I genuinely don't...

              I feel like I've read a completely different article than many other here have. I also feel like the "Exemplary" comment I initially replied to is so far from exemplary that I genuinely don't understand people here. I appreciate your responses.

              1 vote
  2. petrichor
    Link
    Why are philosophers so needlessly wordy? At least this guy provides an argumentative map. There's quite a few things I disagree with in here, but I'll try to keep it neat and to the point. This...
    • Exemplary

    Why are philosophers so needlessly wordy? At least this guy provides an argumentative map.

    There's quite a few things I disagree with in here, but I'll try to keep it neat and to the point.

    In fact, we could have every other guest check out of the hotel and repeat this process infinitely many times, and yet there would never be any less people in the hotel.

    This entire second paragraph on Hilbert's Hotel is flawed. Infinity is not a number. Trying to pin it down through hotel guest arithmetic will not work. It is possible to pull out an infinite number of guests from Hilbert's Hotel and be left with an infinite number of guests, and it's possible to pull out an infinite number of guests and be left with three. This is logically consistent - it just depends on how you do it.

    Can anyone sincerely believe that such a hotel could exist in reality? These sorts of absurdities illustrate the impossibility of the existence of an actually infinite number of things.

    But the author appears to just use it to demonstrate that Hilbert's Hotel could not literally exist, which... alright? I'll take his implied generalization of it to physical objects, like people, as true. This - and the author mentions it himself - does not apply to conceptual things like the set of all real numbers.

    That takes us to (2.12). The truth of this premiss seems fairly obvious. If the universe never began to exist, then prior to the present event there have existed an actually infinite number of previous events. Hence, a beginningless series of events in time entails the existence of an actually infinite number of things, namely, past events.

    Here lies my main issue with this article. The author draws a line in the sand between "potential infinities" and actual infinities, and says that the former can exist in reality, but not the latter. They "prove" this with a convoluted use of Hilbert's Hotel. From there, they claim that the past cannot be an actual infinity because it exists within this universe. This does not follow.

    I do not see why the set of all past events isn't a conceptual infinity, like the set of all real numbers. The rest of the article builds off this.

    To give just one illustration: suppose we meet a man who claims to have been counting from eternity and is now finishing: . . ., -3, -2, -1, 0. We could ask, why did he not finish counting yesterday or the day before or the year before? By then an infinite time had already elapsed, so that he should already have finished by then. Thus, at no point in the infinite past could we ever find the man finishing his countdown, for by that point he should already be done!

    Here's the same mistake in the second argument. However far you go into the infinite past determines what number he'll be at. The author is trying to do arithmetic with infinity again - but infinity is not a number!

    13 votes
  3. Arshan
    Link
    As far as I can tell, the author is ignoring the fact that their argument also applies to a creator god. Also, the bad faith arguing for existence requiring a cause when the entire point of their...

    As far as I can tell, the author is ignoring the fact that their argument also applies to a creator god. Also, the bad faith arguing for existence requiring a cause when the entire point of their argument is that god is an uncaused cause.

    9 votes
  4. [24]
    jcdl
    Link
    Does this imply a linear timeline of deterministic events? What is to say that time was "advancing" before the big bang?
    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.

    Does this imply a linear timeline of deterministic events? What is to say that time was "advancing" before the big bang?

    8 votes
    1. [23]
      iiv
      Link Parent
      He spends ten long paragraphs explaining why one is justified in believing in premise 1 outside of the obvious "an effect without a cause is harder to believe than believing in God".

      He spends ten long paragraphs explaining why one is justified in believing in premise 1 outside of the obvious "an effect without a cause is harder to believe than believing in God".

      4 votes
      1. [18]
        Amarok
        Link Parent
        That's where I get hung up on this angle of science and theism. Why does the universe require a beginning in the first place? Why can't it simply be eternal? If theists can claim God is eternal...

        That's where I get hung up on this angle of science and theism. Why does the universe require a beginning in the first place? Why can't it simply be eternal? If theists can claim God is eternal without evidence, it seems just as reasonable to claim the universe itself is eternal without evidence. Our theories of everything may as well start with 'everything already has always existed' rather than 'what was that first event that started it all'. We might even get further thinking that way, who knows.

        There seems to be no concrete reason to believe a 'prime cause' exists other than it makes our ape brains happy. We know that at least one major event in the cosmos' history reshaped every single atom of it we can sense, but that does not imply it was a beginning of everything. It was just the beginning of this region, and our science on events during that era is shaky, to put it mildly.

        13 votes
        1. [14]
          mrbig
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I believe that the purpose of the article is not to convert readers into believing in God, but to: demonstrate that some common arguments against theism are not as strong as they seem show that...
          • Exemplary

          I believe that the purpose of the article is not to convert readers into believing in God, but to:

          • demonstrate that some common arguments against theism are not as strong as they seem
          • show that there are strong arguments to be made towards the existence of God that are not as easy to dismiss as some believe

          It concludes with the following phrase:

          Therefore, on the basis of the kalam cosmological argument, I conclude that it is rational to believe that God exists.

          This seems, to me, like a defense of the right of existence of this worldview. Which is not the same as judging or proselytizing. Some people either have a stroke or throw stones at me when I reveal that I: (1) consider myself a rationalist, love and respect logic, (2) love and respect science, (3) believe in God. So that was a nice conclusion for me to read.

          In my view, it's regrettable how polarization makes us view each other as enemies. Charlatans and neopentecostals (among others) sequestered theism for themselves, erasing reasonable theists from popular discourse. To the point that it is hard to discuss these subjects at all, since every time they arise I have to deal with the trauma caused by a bunch of religions and social groups that have nothing to do with me...

          12 votes
          1. [6]
            TemulentTeatotaler
            Link Parent
            As a quite firm atheist/rationalist, I think it's healthy to be comfortable having and valuing non-rational or irrational ideas. Concepts like loyalty or friendship may map onto some evolutionary...
            • Exemplary

            This seems, to me, like a defense of the right of existence of this worldview.

            As a quite firm atheist/rationalist, I think it's healthy to be comfortable having and valuing non-rational or irrational ideas. Concepts like loyalty or friendship may map onto some evolutionary strategy, but increasingly abstract concepts (e.g., cryptocurrency) are real because humanity reifies them.

            If you get value out of faith you don't need to justify it any more than someone having a favorite color or a lucky hat.

            Which is not the same as judging or proselytizing.

            This sort of article is a little frustrating, because Craig is a sophisticated proselytizer. None of that that frustration is directed at you or philosophical disquisitions in general.

            There's a long tradition of Christian philosophers who use logic as a cudgel instead of as a path to truth. You get some infinite recursions, some unknowns/unknowables, Derrida-esque word games, ambiguous definition of terms... and use that to try to sneak in their very specific beliefs about an intervening, semi-anthropomorphic, Judeo-Christian God.

            Craig believes homosexual couples "represent(s) a moral decline in Western culture". He believes God intervenes/is needed to explain evolution and is a fellow with Discovery Institute, the force behind trying to push "Intelligent Design" into schools. He believes in a version of benevolence/morality that makes genocide of the Canaanites just.

            Views like these are part of the payload of what he proselytizes. Affability, rationality, prestige, or anything other quality of an effective debate feel more like an attempt to find the most effective weapon in a perceived "culture war":

            The cultural attitudes towards homosexual activity have undergone a sea change in recent years so that now someone that holds to a biblical view that homosexual behavior is immoral is regarded as bigoted, narrow-minded and really a wicked person – that is a huge change. It is just another challenge. It's extremely significant and unfortunately it seems like the church is on the losing end of this battle

            Maybe that's uncharitable, and, as you put it, a lot of the "meta" of society is certainly regrettable and makes life worse for almost everyone (ala "cryptofascism").

            I've had two friends disowned by their family for coming out as gay, one homeless for a few years. Her parents would hold up WLC/Ravi like champions. Quickly you go from "having a starting point makes sense"-->call that start God-->if God, maybe Christian God-->Christian God? Christian morals/traditions-->why are you disobedient and choosing to burn in hell?

            Educated and rational arguments make for powerful persuasion, even if they're specious (looking at you, "argument from degree"). An alternative formation of the quote from @RNG that apologists "raise the intellectual price tag" for atheism, is that they "raise the intellectual price tag for apostasy". Car commercials are for the car owners in the same way apologists exist to raise the bar for wavering faith, and sometimes faith should waver.

            Part of the lack of charity is that I've seen a number of apologists so skillfully use rhetoric and logic when it scores them points, but dance around and avoid updating their worldview on basic things like "intermediate fossils" or "why is almost everyone the faith they were brought up with if rationality led them to those beliefs".

            It sucks, it's regrettable, and again, the frustration is definitely not directed at you or most people.


            I'm probably replying, since I saw St. Aquinas come up the other day somewhere else. Aquinas argued that a transgression is weighted by the goodness of that transgressed against, and as God is infinitely good a transgression against God deserves infinite punishment. The logical entailment of that is that pretty horrifying.

            It came up where a similar line of reasoning was used to explain away theodicy/the problem of evil, which was that suffering a finite amount doesn't matter because you divide it by infinite goodness in the afterlife.

            A baby having an agonizing death from Tay-Sachs doesn't matter. In fact, any arbitrarily large but finite amount of babies tortured for any arbitrarily large but finite amount of years is basically the same as the opposite. Just divide by ∞.

            It's illustrative of the sort of escape into symbolic manipulation/math that WLC invokes with the cosmological argument, and I think it's a misuse of philosophy.

            demonstrate that some common arguments against theism are not as strong as they seem

            What arguments are those?

            In my experience the predominant view among atheists is that introducing God introduces more things to explain and doesn't resolve any.

            The initial requirements of our observed universe were:

            • Lots of hydrogen
            • Some rules of physics
            • Some rules of qualia/consciousness?

            There could have been something before that. Maybe we're the result of colliding superdimensional branes. Maybe there are dimensions above that that are permanently inaccessible to observation.

            We could have also been created by a God. That God could have been created by a higher-God who was the Judeo-Christian God. Above that God could be an arch-God who is extradimensional, paralogical, and whose omniscience is only explainable as an uncountable infinity relative to the countable infinity of higher-Gods.

            Maybe there are strange cosmologies outside of us where their timeline is circular (is that included in Hinduism?), an infinite series of Matryoshka-like universes that are exact copies of their daughter, virtual realities where existence is determined by procedural generation and exists in concept but not execution until evaluated, or bottom-up cosmologies whose rules allow them to create realities that paradoxically supercede their own.

            It's fun to think about, but I think it's just using the basics of language or logic to make relations between entities. We can ask what sorrow tastes like, or write some genetic algorithm that evolves how to walk with an arbitrary body or crashes depending on the hardware.

            Eventually theists seem to get the same paradox. It terminates with "God always existed and created reality; there is no explanation needed"

            Atheists go with "Reality always existed; there is no explanation needed". In the case of a specific God like WLC has, that seems to require fewer things to be explained.

            19 votes
            1. [5]
              RNG
              Link Parent
              Your argument here is all over the place. That's not a bad thing at all (I do it a lot myself haha,) but it does make it difficult to respond to 20 discrete points or to find which points are the...

              Your argument here is all over the place. That's not a bad thing at all (I do it a lot myself haha,) but it does make it difficult to respond to 20 discrete points or to find which points are the best to discuss. What, in your opinion, is the strongest argument against the Kalam / in favor of the naturalist in this context?

              3 votes
              1. TemulentTeatotaler
                Link Parent
                Honestly, others in this thread and elsewhere have voiced my thoughts better than I think I could, and I don't have the time or desire to try to rehash those debates. I also don't have an...

                What, in your opinion, is the strongest argument against the Kalam / in favor of the naturalist in this context?

                Honestly, others in this thread and elsewhere have voiced my thoughts better than I think I could, and I don't have the time or desire to try to rehash those debates. I also don't have an appropriate educational background to make that a conversation someone serious about philosophy would benefit from, so I won't add to what may already be a frustrating thread for you.

                If I'm choosing I'd say introducing a personal God as an exemption to the first premise is either special pleading (rejecting the argument) or extraneous (supporting the naturalist).

                I feel a bit weird saying it, but I also want to reserve room in the name of epistemological humility for ways in which physics/math/logic are incomplete. Non-Euclidean geometries that are compatible with Euclidean geometry or the resultant understanding of spacetime that can be warped by mass/speed are both things that wouldn't be included in philosophical premises a couple centuries back. In the same way the validity of relativity had to wait to be supported, I'm pretty hesitant to commit to some of the assumptions put forth in premises about infinite infinities and the metaphysics of time.

                Some of the alternative cosmologies I put forth were informal (probably very flawed) ways of nodding at some other issues raised with the cosmological argument. If reality consisted of endless cycles of expansion ala a Big Bang then collapses to the same initial conditions, what is T0? If there are an uncountably infinite number of God-like beings that could wrap around a lesser reality before some proposed exceptional First Cause what does that suggest? If God transcends the logic that would make them require a preceding Cause are there other paradoxical rules they can break such as creating their Creator?

                Your argument here is all over the place.

                Most of my post wasn't addressing the cosmological argument.

                I wanted to say MrBig shouldn't feel like his values, faith, or worldview needs to be rational. Mine certainly aren't. By my bit of lurking he seems like a great guy who puts a lot of effort into making a community here. I think I missed the mark a bit in this.

                Beyond that I wanted to try to contextualize why Christian apologetics can get a negative reaction to depersonalize it. Regardless of what WLC intended in the scope of this specific argument his life's work is proselytizing a brand of Christianity. I mentioned cryptofascism to reference an extreme example of a group doing whatever is effective to promote their worldview ("hide your powerlevel"). I don't think Christian apologists are anywhere near that extreme, and I'm not singling out WLC, but my limited experienced has included a lot of intellectual insincerity and debate tactics that avoid addressing their actual beliefs.

                A really unfortunate part of reality is that we're susceptible to bad actors. Computers used to not need anti-virus and the web used to not need you to prove you're a human. Sealioning, Gish gallops, or other styles of rhetoric can yield defensiveness/dismissiveness in an equilibrium that sucks more for everyone involved. I hoped it would be a small comfort to understand wasn't personal.

                Cheers, probably won't be able to reply for a good while

                7 votes
              2. [3]
                screenbeard
                Link Parent
                I don't think TT is making an argument that must be addressed so much as responding to the question of "why we cannot all just get along" asked by mrbig. I'll paraphrase partly as I understand...

                I don't think TT is making an argument that must be addressed so much as responding to the question of "why we cannot all just get along" asked by mrbig. I'll paraphrase partly as I understand TT's response and partly from my own opinion as an atheist, but I don't disagree that the thing before the beginning of time could be the Christian God, but using the fact that no one knows what is before the beginning of time to justify your own personal religious crusades is morally and logically incoherent.

                6 votes
                1. [2]
                  RNG
                  Link Parent
                  I don't think that's what WLC is intending to do here. Crucially, you agree to the point that the universe began to exist. WLC takes that and demonstrates that whatever the cause of the universe...

                  I don't disagree that the thing before the beginning of time could be the Christian God, but using the fact that no one knows what is before the beginning of time to justify your own personal religious crusades is morally and logically incoherent.

                  I don't think that's what WLC is intending to do here. Crucially, you agree to the point that the universe began to exist. WLC takes that and demonstrates that whatever the cause of the universe is, it has certain attributes that appear to resemble the divine attributes e.g.

                  • It's outside of time, so it must be timeless
                  • It has either equal amount or more power than exists in the universe, so it must be all powerful

                  A lot of these points you may agree with. If you are to address something like the problem of a permanent cause having a temporal effect, you need to get downright creative on the atheist side. And that's great! That's fun! It allows us as atheists to investigate certain ontological realities that we may not have been exposed to otherwise. Or, to at least have a more internally consistent worldview if nothing else.

                  As a self-described naturalist, the Kalam is a beautiful argument that really allows for discussions into analytic philosophy, modal logic, and even into fun stuff like materialism vs mind/body dualism.

                  Atheist rhetoricians who aren't educated in philosophy rarely give the argument it's proper due.

                  3 votes
                  1. screenbeard
                    Link Parent
                    I'm not one of those, but I have a hard time giving it it's due because it's mixing philosophical arguments with scientific theories. The argument relies on statements of fact from some of the...

                    Atheist rhetoricians who aren't educated in philosophy rarely give the argument it's proper due.

                    I'm not one of those, but I have a hard time giving it it's due because it's mixing philosophical arguments with scientific theories. The argument relies on statements of fact from some of the leading theories we have, but then uses them as the basis for strict logical arguments. It would be like saying "if gravity exists such has been proven by scientist A, and galaxies are spinning faster than they should as per scientist B, then God must be pedalling faster and causing the galaxies to spin beyond what science can explain".

                    I'm not a philosopher, I'm not a scientist, so I'm not going to be able to argue this to the degree I'd like to, but all his arguments and rhetoric just seem like slight of hand to me, like those proofs that show 1=2 by using bad maths that the layman won't catch, that take a serious mathematician time to disect and analyse to find where the proof took a misstep.

                    5 votes
          2. [7]
            RNG
            Link Parent
            A lot of atheist content, especially on YouTube, is devoted strictly to rhetoric. Largely angry rhetoric which resonates with the growing group of atheists (who likely have sought out such content...

            A lot of atheist content, especially on YouTube, is devoted strictly to rhetoric. Largely angry rhetoric which resonates with the growing group of atheists (who likely have sought out such content due to religious trauma, I know at one point I had done the same thing in my teens [1].) It's much nicer to see proper discussion occurring between philosophers of religion rather than peddlers of a Ben Shapiro-like rhetoric. A good discussion with a so-called new atheist that really allows Dr. Craig to properly articulate the Kalam and expertly handle common good faith objections is in this video [2]. While the video is quite long, I think you'd like it @mrbig.

            [1] https://journeyfree.org/rts/
            [2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOfVBqGPwi0

            2 votes
            1. suspended
              Link Parent
              Many years ago, I realized that I would just have to start afresh. Throw away all these labels that we place upon ourselves and just be struck with awe. Question everything. Begin again....

              Many years ago, I realized that I would just have to start afresh. Throw away all these labels that we place upon ourselves and just be struck with awe. Question everything. Begin again. Undoubtedly, there is something going on that is beyond our comprehension. Why can't we start there?

              To be clear, I don't believe that any human being has ever grasped 'the truth'. They may have had glimpses of something beyond their understanding as I have. However, using all of these labels (such as theist, atheist, naturalist, etc.), in order to sling darts at each other, gets us nowhere.

              Let's put our heads together and come up with new theories as to what may be happening in our cosmos. What do we have to lose by doing so?

              4 votes
            2. [5]
              mrbig
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              Great, I'll watch that. I saw the debate between Craig and Sam Harris -- the God debate. From what I remember, Craig made it clear from the start that he would not argue about the existence of...

              Great, I'll watch that.

              I saw the debate between Craig and Sam Harris -- the God debate. From what I remember, Craig made it clear from the start that he would not argue about the existence of God, and he really didn't. My memory is not very clear about the content, but I remember thinking that Harris was super intense (his very mannerisms seem to convey "I am very smart" -- which he is), while Craig was more laid back, like an old college professor without much to prove. Granted, Craig is much older than Harris and teaches in a Baptist university -- the guy is basically a very smart preacher.

              I do remember that Craig concentrated on very modest claims, those that he clearly felt he could support within the constraints of a short exchange. My impression was that Harris was probably more persuasive for the audience of this kind of thing, while Craig was more consistent and logically correct.

              3 votes
              1. [4]
                RNG
                Link Parent
                I think I saw the same debate, which I thought was on morality. Harris' worldview is honestly bizarre to me; he makes a very clear derivation of an ought from an is (claiming that objective...

                I think I saw the same debate, which I thought was on morality. Harris' worldview is honestly bizarre to me; he makes a very clear derivation of an ought from an is (claiming that objective morality [what one ought to do] can be derived from the natural sciences [from what is],) which has been pretty thoroughly demonstrated to be logically fallacious. [1] I'd like to think that most naturalists are committed to some sort of moral anti-realism rather than this nonsense.

                [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is%E2%80%93ought_problem

                2 votes
                1. [2]
                  the_funky_buddha
                  Link Parent
                  But how is it any different than anyone who debates from using their religious texts as an 'is'? By claiming certain morality ought to be by deriving it from is's, be it text, tradition, etc? What...

                  But how is it any different than anyone who debates from using their religious texts as an 'is'? By claiming certain morality ought to be by deriving it from is's, be it text, tradition, etc? What would be a non-fallacious argument in this context?

                  4 votes
                  1. RNG
                    Link Parent
                    If you are religious, you believe in mind-independent moral facts. Perhaps soul searching, reading scripture, meditating, and communicating with the divine can help you ascertain these moral...

                    If you are religious, you believe in mind-independent moral facts. Perhaps soul searching, reading scripture, meditating, and communicating with the divine can help you ascertain these moral facts, but the reality of the worldview is that the facts exist whether or not you attempt to discover them.

                    Moral facts are irreducible "oughts." So one derives further oughts from some lower-level oughts, which are moral facts.

                    3 votes
                2. mrbig
                  Link Parent
                  I see. Yeah, those arguments always seemed off to me, but I couldn't say exactly why. I've heard of the is-ought problem before but never really studied it. Thanks.

                  I see. Yeah, those arguments always seemed off to me, but I couldn't say exactly why. I've heard of the is-ought problem before but never really studied it. Thanks.

                  3 votes
        2. [3]
          RNG
          Link Parent
          This is addressed by premise 2.1 above, the impossibility of an actually infinite set in the natural world. This paradox is pretty well addressed in this video (and is accessible to...

          Why does the universe require a beginning in the first place? Why can't it simply be eternal?

          This is addressed by premise 2.1 above, the impossibility of an actually infinite set in the natural world. This paradox is pretty well addressed in this video (and is accessible to non-philosophers) [1]. Hilbert's Hotel [2] is helpful especially for demonstrating the absurdity of infinite causal chains, which is what we are discussing here. Probably worth noting that both naturalists and theists tend to agree that the universe came into existence, and many of them overlap on when that was (the big bang.) [Disclaimer: I am a naturalist.]

          [1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uj3_KqkI9Zo
          [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilbert%27s_paradox_of_the_Grand_Hotel

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            the_funky_buddha
            Link Parent
            Why is it impossible though? When talking about such super-human acts that perhaps can't be comprehended by our tiny minds, why not take the humble approach and realize regarding universal...

            Why is it impossible though? When talking about such super-human acts that perhaps can't be comprehended by our tiny minds, why not take the humble approach and realize regarding universal creation that we may not know what's possible and what isn't? Besides that, Hilbert's Hotel just shows what's possible with infinite sets, not what's impossible. It seems like this argument is reaching way too far to denigrate agnostic's or atheist's beliefs as an impossible absurdity. I don't find that argument rational or reasonable.

            8 votes
            1. RNG
              Link Parent
              It seems like we have some murky goal posts here, so I'll restate my claim from the previous comment: the past is not infinite, therefore the universe is not eternal. Since the medieval period,...

              why not take the humble approach and realize regarding universal creation that we may not know what's possible and what isn't?

              It seems like we have some murky goal posts here, so I'll restate my claim from the previous comment: the past is not infinite, therefore the universe is not eternal.

              Since the medieval period, philosophers were pretty comfortable with accepting the finitude of the past on strictly philosophical grounds and rejecting the Aristotelian view of an infinite universe or steady state theory. This is done to demonstrate a number of absurdities that can be logically derived from the premise.

              The second good reason to believe in the finitude of the past is because the evidence confirms it. Centuries after the finitude of the past was proven philosophically, physical evidence has emerged that clearly points to the universe having a beginning, namely the big bang.

              It seems like this argument is reaching way too far to denigrate agnostic's or atheist's beliefs as an impossible absurdity. I don't find that argument rational or reasonable.

              I know it's a trend to sprinkle statements like this in due to how polemic discussions around religion and politics are, but there really isn't any reason for it here. This is just a polite conversation among friends here.

              3 votes
      2. [3]
        RNG
        Link Parent
        The role of the apologist at this stage isn't to necessarily just prove the existence of God, but to, as WLC puts it, "raise the intellectual price tag" for atheism. If one is looking at both...

        He spends ten long paragraphs explaining why one is justified in believing in premise 1

        The role of the apologist at this stage isn't to necessarily just prove the existence of God, but to, as WLC puts it, "raise the intellectual price tag" for atheism. If one is looking at both worldviews, and after hearing this argument, is committed to the position that "things that begin to exist can do so un-caused" (in violation of the principle of sufficient reason), then WLC has definitively made some sort of progress, and the atheist has ceded some ground.

        One either needs to demonstrate that his conclusion doesn't follow from the premises, or that one or more of his premises are flawed. That's one heck of a premise to pick as the one you are willing to give up imho.

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          the_funky_buddha
          Link Parent
          That doesn't sound like a good-faith argument. Most atheists I've known don't just say the universe didn't exist, then did. Something came before it but no one knows what did. It doesn't mean it...

          That doesn't sound like a good-faith argument. Most atheists I've known don't just say the universe didn't exist, then did. Something came before it but no one knows what did. It doesn't mean it was an anthropomorphic entity. Especially titling it on the 'existence of god' just seems clickbaity on a subject done to death on topics already thoroughly debunked on both sides of the argument.

          8 votes
          1. RNG
            Link Parent
            I think Dr. Craig's contention is to demonstrate that the cause of the universe seems to have the attributes that are ascribed to the Christian God in their creation myth. The cause has to be...

            I think Dr. Craig's contention is to demonstrate that the cause of the universe seems to have the attributes that are ascribed to the Christian God in their creation myth.

            The cause has to be atemporal, as it is outside of time, omnipotent because it had more power than what was injected into the universe system, etc.

            2 votes
      3. jcdl
        Link Parent
        It’s not convincing.

        It’s not convincing.

        1 vote
  5. mrbig
    Link

    The kalam cosmological argument, by showing that the universe began to exist, demonstrates that the world is not a necessary being and, therefore, not self-explanatory with respect to its existence. Two philosophical arguments and two scientific confirmations are presented in support of the beginning of the universe. Since whatever begins to exist has a cause, there must exist a transcendent cause of the universe.