Friday, April 25, 2008

Kalam!...Gesundheit.


The combox for this post has gotten seriously derailed, and that's OK. It's still quite fun actually, but the original point was yet another angle on how atheists act inconsistently with the implications of their stated positions. The combox is now centered around the cosmological argument for God's existence, so this post's combox is for continuing that on.

The comments dealing with the cosmological argument started approximately here.
Let the games continue.

10 comments:

Rhology said...

In answer to Paul C's and John's latest comments (found here)...

John Morales said:

A God is not nothing, however; it is sthg. Whence did it come?

God is timeless.
But the universe is not. We have to have sthg timeless, else we are stuck with no possible answer to these questions I'm raising.
God did not "come from" anywhere. He has always existed and will always exist.

How does that escape the infinity problem?

B/c He is timeless, outside time; the universe is not.

Without time, there is no "beforehand".

There is logical precedence. Otherwise, again, we have no answers to these questions at all.



Paul C said:

Oh man, I hate it when my comments get eaten! :-(
It's happened to me enough times that now I type up all my comments in Notepad and either save 'em or don't erase 'em until they're posted.

Can you explain what the difference is in this context between logically and chronologically?

Since there's no time, there's no chronological before, 'tis true. This is a cause and effect issue, as you said - God caused time to exist. But sthg cannot cause its own existence. Time is not volitional anyway, it doesn't cause things strictly speaking.
I'm trying to wrap language around the answer to the conundrum, and it's admittedly not easy. far better to do that, however, than to have NO answer like you.

I think you're conflating three different uses of the word universe

Let's talk about all of 'em. I mean mostly the latter.

However the beginning of either the visible universe or spacetime in general is not necessarily preceded by "nothing".

What was there before? Was it intelligent, volitional, personal, powerful, timeless, immaterial?
How do you know any of that besides just pulling it out of the air as pure conjecture?

As I said, you have yet to demonstrate that "nothing" exists

No, you're right - "nothing" does not exist. It's nothing. If there's nothing, SOMETHING doesn't just happen. How could it?

I think the idea of this "primal nothing" is just a philosophical concept that we have inherited, and I urge you to leave it behind.

Then what was there before the universe began, and how does it escape the infinite regress problem?
Why not just answer the questions I'm posing? You're consistently avoiding them.

Infinity is not logically impossible - otherwise we could not use it in mathematics - but it is physically impossible (as far as we know). Ditto a vacuum.

That's why I said "actual infinite". An infinite set of an actual thing is impossible. You're proposing (as far as I can tell, since you apparently refuse to take a position, which is kind of weak) that the universe could be infinitely old, which entails an infinite set of seconds to have existed already.

However I object to you putting "sometimes work in reverse" in quotes - I did not say any such thing

You said this:
Also, it's possible for the Second Law to operate in both directions, and it may be just a particular feature of our current universe that time's arrow runs in one direction.

Let the reader judge how accurate my characterisation of that bizarre statement is.

It appears to be a particular function of our particular part of our particular universe at this particular stage.

And it's not been observed to "operate in both directions", has it?

Peace,
Rhology

John Morales said...

Rhology, you're still talking about cause and effect and precedence - all time-bound concepts.

God is timeless.

If so, then God does not experience time; God exists in a single timeless moment.

By the way, something timeless cannot, by definition, be eternal.

What I think you're trying to say is that you envision God as outside our spacetime, yet creating the Universe and perceiving its totality.

..oOo..

The Cosmological argument is a grandiose, but incoherent and unnecessary conceit.

God did not "come from" anywhere. He has always existed and will always exist.

So you have no problem with the concept of uncaused things; but your whole argument is that things cannot be uncaused!

1. things have causes.
2. therefore the universe must have a cause.
3. this cause is God.
4. God is uncaused.

You're having it both ways, purely to introduce the God concept.

That's silly.

Paul C said...

Since there's no time, there's no chronological before, 'tis true. This is a cause and effect issue, as you said - God caused time to exist.

If time does not exist, then cause and effect are meaningless. Therefore you cannot meaningfully say that God caused time (or the universe, or anything else) to exist.

What was there before? Was it intelligent, volitional, personal, powerful, timeless, immaterial? How do you know any of that besides just pulling it out of the air as pure conjecture?

There isn't a "before".

Your model is this: Nothing > Something, where the > represents a cause (in your case, your version of God). You've never observed something coming from Nothing; in fact, you've never observed Nothing, or seen any evidence for Nothing, and you are not even able to define Nothing. You've just inherited the idea from your philosophical tradition. Again, I urge you to discard it, but I know this is hard to grasp - it took me a long time before I really got it.

My model is this: Something. My model has the slight advantage of being based on what we actually observe, and it doesn't require me to conjure up an unobserved Nothing, or an imaginary cause to get from Nothing to something.

You're proposing (as far as I can tell, since you apparently refuse to take a position, which is kind of weak) that the universe could be infinitely old, which entails an infinite set of seconds to have existed already.

I haven't "refused" to take a position - why do you keep repeating this lie? I have simply pointed out that if the idea of a "second" requires spacetime to exist, then there are no seconds prior to spacetime existing, and the concept of infinity is not relevant. I don't propose that spacetime is infinitely old, I believe that it is finite in duration. Anything before spacetime cannot be talked about in terms of time at all, so the term "infinity" is not relevant. I hope this is clear enough for you.

And it's not been observed to "operate in both directions", has it?

No, but that's not what I said. I said it's possible for it to operate in both directions; I'll qualify that and say that it's theoretically possible for it to operate in both directions. This is not just something that I've conjured up in a drug-induced haze; this is something that is an acknowledged part of physics. Therefore I continue to object to your mischaracterisation of my point.

John Morales said...

Paul ("this is something that is an acknowledged part of physics") refers to this.

Benjamin said...

Rho... I don't know how often you check your email, but I just wanted to let you know that I've sent you one.

Rhology said...

And I replied to it over a day ago. :-)

Benjamin said...

Would you be willing to send another, as I don't have it anywhere in my email account.

Rhology said...

Hey guys,

Sorry, limited time and limited...hmm, drive to get back into this. Just been tired. My apologies.
I think a lot of these questions can be clarified when we consider that we have a few alternatives:
1) Universe has existed from eternity past (whether this one or a cyclical model)
2) Universe came into existence uncaused, by itself
3) Universe was brought into existence by another

Of these, #1 is impossible as we've seen and yet Paul C flirts shamelessly with it in his comment. #2 is shot down by Paul C himself. #3 is thus looking pretty good.


John Morales said:
If so, then God does not experience time; God exists in a single timeless moment.

Right. Over and above time.

something timeless cannot, by definition, be eternal.

Then perhaps I was sloppy in expression - I meant that He exists in a single timeless moment.
Yet to us as timebound, He *seems* eternal.

So you have no problem with the concept of uncaused things; but your whole argument is that things cannot be uncaused!

I have a problem with contingent things being uncaused.
And I have a problem with things coming into being from nothing.


Paul C said:
If time does not exist, then cause and effect are meaningless.

Why?

There isn't a "before".

There's a logical before.
Remember, no one's forcing you to believe the universe had a beginning. Since you're apparently highly invested in an irrational concept, might as well switch to the one not currently under attack - that the univ is infinitely old.

Your model is this: Nothing > Something

Well, no. My model is that out of Nothing, nothing comes.

You've never observed something coming from Nothing; in fact, you've never observed Nothing, or seen any evidence for Nothing

Precisely! My point exactly.
Sounds like you are abandoning the begun universe model after all. Good for my argument, but I was hoping to convince you, that you wouldn't wander off into irrationality. But I can only do so much.

you are not even able to define Nothing


1) Neither can you.
2) It can be defined apophatically.
3) Just let me know if you're abandoning this concept, and we'll call it good and bankrupt and then move on to what you actually think about the origin of the universe.
4) Remember, I don't hold to Nothing before the universe - God was there.

My model is this: Something. My model has the slight advantage of being based on what we actually observe,

What was that Something? You don't know. But you're just SURE it wasn't God!
When and how did you observe this Something in the beginning? Or are you inferring the past from the present? What makes you think you're justified in so doing?

I don't propose that spacetime is infinitely old, I believe that it is finite in duration

*sigh*
Let's try this again - Whence, then, did spacetime come?

this is something that is an acknowledged part of physics.

Thanks to John for linking to the wiki article.
This is my favorite part of it:

One can, however equally well imagine a state of the universe in which the motions of all of the particles at one instant were the reverse (strictly, the CPT reverse). Such a state would then evolve in reverse, so presumably entropy would decrease (Loschmidt's paradox). Why is 'our' state preferred over the other?

One position is to say that the constant increase of entropy we observe happens only because of the initial state of our universe. Other possible states of the universe (for example, a universe at heat death equilibrium) would actually result in no increase of entropy. In this view, the apparent T-asymmetry of our universe is a problem in cosmology: why did the universe start with a low entropy?


I could be missing sthg, but this is asking WHY the universe started with a low entropy, not WHETHER it did.
And WHY the state we observe is "preferred" (more teleological language again; I'm sure it's just a coincidence) over the alternative, not WHETHER it is.
I'm not sure how that bolsters this bizarre point, but elucidation is appreciated.


Peace,
Rhology

Paul C said...

There's a logical before.

It is impossible to have a concept of "before" that doesn't have a temporal component, since "before" is a temporal relation. Try again.

My model is that out of Nothing, nothing comes.

No, you're getting confused - that's my model. The fact that there is something now is evidence for my point that there can't have been nothing at any point prior to this one. I'm not sure how this supports your attempt to prove that there was a creator involved - it seems entirely irrelevant to the discussion.

What was that Something? You don't know. But you're just SURE it wasn't God!

That something is the observable universe - you know, the place I see when I look around me now. I can't be sure of what it was or wasn't prior to this; but the lack of evidence for your god today suggests to me that it probably wasn't your god. You on the other hand find that this lack of evidence is somehow proof that your god created the universe - in fact you find this lack of evidence so compelling that you're SURE it was God.

Let's try this again - Whence, then, did spacetime come?

I think that spacetime is most likely to be a local phenomenon. If inflationary theory is correct, then there is no way of knowing where it "came from" - as I have pointed out, the question may not make any sense if time is a local phenomena.

Of these, #1 is impossible as we've seen and yet Paul C flirts shamelessly with it in his comment. #2 is shot down by Paul C himself. #3 is thus looking pretty good.

No, we haven't seen that #1 is impossible, and #3 is not looking pretty good because so far you've presented exactly no evidence that the "universe was brought into existence by another". Even if you do it begs the question of how "another" was brought into existence, and uf you claim that "another" is self-caused, then you are proposing that there is at least one entity that is uncaused. As a result you must therefore demonstrate that the universe itself is not that self-caused entity, which you have so far provided no evidence for either. This is all standard stuff which you persistently try to evade; just because it's inconvenient to your argument doesn't mean that I'm going to overlook it.

John Morales said...

Here's some interesting reading, not without relevance to the topic at hand.