Refutation: “Logical Analysis of the Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God”

the_press_thinks_youre_an_idiotI HAVE FOUND AN obviously illogical analysis of the Cosmological Argument on someone else’s blog, and surprisingly, it is well organized, grammatically correct, and the author has excellent command of literary conventions.  This is good.  Usually, when e-atheists attempt to dissect a theistic argument, they won’t be nearly so clean and neat about it.  Of course, many are, but this is the first I’ve seen on a blog.  Unfortunately, he got the argument wrong, so it’s no wonder he was able to refute it.  I’ll commend him in this regard.  He was able to refute a faulty and illogical version of the Cosmological Argument.  NOTE TO INTERNET ATHEISTS:  I’m not trying to be condescending, but if you find yourself able to refute a famous theistic argument that’s been around for millenia, invented and propagated by Plato, Aristotle, or Socrates, and expounded by philosophers of every culture regardless of religion, chances are you misunderstood or misrepresented the argument.  Yes, it will likely be possible for you to refute recent arguments concocted by wannabe-apologists, but when you claim to have refuted a 2,000 year old argument of classical philosophy, you ought to be careful.  Ask yourself: Am I reallyso much smarter than every other philosopher of the last couple centuries that I alone have found the problem with “x” argument?  Why has no-one else in the last 2,000 years seen this contradiction/problem/fallacy?  If I don’t have an answer to the last questions, why is it that people much smarter than me have confidently presented “x” argument over the years as if nothing were the matter?  These questions make one thing obvious to the honest atheist, either he is a very great snob, or  a very great fool, or the Christian philosophers are all very wicked liars.

 The only reason I call his article obviously illogical is because he sets out to analyze the Cosmological Argument, but actually analyzes an illogical convolution of it that he got from the the GeoChristian Blog.  I shall have to email the GeoChristian himself and inform him of what he has done (inadvertently so, I’m certain, as he seems respectable enough).  However, our little e-atheist here has done what a philosopher would call a “misrepresentation” of an argument.  He claimed to refute one thing, which he calls the Cosmological Argument (mistakenly so), but actually refuted another thing (not the “real” cosmological argument)

http://pseudoastro.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/logical-analysis-of-the-cosmological-argument-for-the-existence-of-god/

To begin, however, I must state as a matter of simple fact, that I have done a better job explaining the Cosmological Argument than has the GeoChristian.  I mean no insult to him.  Perhaps he did not orient his article to adorable little e-atheists with telescopes, I don’t know.

At the start, he misrepresents the major-premise of the argument as “Everything needs a cause”.  This is patently absurd, and he tarnishes his own image by proposing to analyze a Cosmological Argument and then throwing forth this madness.  Any idiot can see that this premise lends itself necessarily to an infinite regression of causes, which is plainly illogical.  (If you happen to not be familiar with deep, mysterious, and complicated philosophical terms like “illogical”, because you just so happen to be a silly little e-infidel who plays around with telescopes but tries to talk like he’s played around with Voltaire, you should read my post on the Argument)Actually, the major premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is, “Everything which begins to exist must have a cause”.  Not only is this assertion intuitively plausible, but it is also reinforced by every last scientific observation of any event in the history or future of the universe.  And that’s not an exaggeration.  I mean literally everything we have seen begin to exist has had cause for its existence. Chairs, tables, stars, cells, animals, anything that begins to exist, you name it, it has a cause (for the above: craftsmen or factories, nebulae, mitosis or meiosis, and reproduction, in that order).

Secondly, he says this.  Mind you, he’s not a philosopher, but an astronomer.

“From a philosophical argument, there really doesn’t need to be an explanation for why something exists.”

Actually, there does.  It’s called the Principle of Sufficient Reason, and it is the foundation of the scientific method.  Note how astronomy is also a science! 

Does he want me to prove the principle of sufficient reason?  I’m not exactly sure if I can.   Go out and look at things though.  Black holes, cheap labor, trees, Bill Clinton, antidisestablishmentarianism, you name it.  You will be able to find a reason for their existence if you look for it.  That’s a strong deductive argument, if I’m not mistaken (I’m not mistaken, mind you) Especially if everything one goes out to find turns out to have sufficient reason for its existence, and one is rendered incapable of finding anything which exists just ’cause. (This is exactly what will happen if you go out looking for pointless objects which haven’t even the slightest reason for existing, so don’t bother)

Now, dearest Mr Cosmo-Doubt says there doesn’t need to be an  for why something exists.  Tell me, when he looks through his telescope and sees an image of the Tau-Ceti system through the lens, what does he think?  If there really doesn’t have to be a reason for something to exist, any attempt on his part to conclude that the cause of the image in his telescope is the actual Tau Ceti system is entirely without warrant.  After all, his glimpse of the system doesn’t mean the system actually exists!  It could exist for no reason at all, according to Uglyface McPoopnose! (I ran out of clever names)

Everything which exists has sufficient reason for its existence in and of itself (which is to say, in its nature), or not in and of itself (which is to say, something else).  In other words, when you have something which exists, it either exists because it is in its nature to exist, or because something else made it exist.

He goes on to say, later on in his article, that something could exist “just ’cause”.  Indeed, I would agree, in a sense.   But not really.  I agree with his statement, but not what he means by it. He really hasn’t a clue what that sentence means.  A thing may exist because it is in its nature to be existing.  What this means is that it is impossible for it notto exist.  It exists in every possible world.  But you can plainly see that he does not mean this.  But that is the only option he’s got!  Aside from saying a thing which exists has an external cause for existing (Arrrgh! This be what he’s trying to avoid, lad!) he can only say the above.  There is no other option.

Besides, if things don’t need to have a cause to just mosey on into existence, what’s to stop a giant tiger from “beginning to exist” right in front of my face at this precise instant?  God knows it can’t be needing a cause!  Otherwise we’d be theists!

Or, God forbid, what’s there to stop God from existing right in front of me at this precise instant, hm? If our astro-skeptic maintains that there does not have to be an explanation for something’s existence, I can simply claim that God happens to exist right here in my room, and if he asks me to prove it (explain His existence) I’ll just say He exists just ’cause, so I don’t need to justify my belief, and be done with it! 

So, our little atheo-naut has two choices: thing’s need explanantions, or they don’t.  Either way, I can be right.

I’ll stop there, if you don’t mind.  I don’t need to do a point by point refutation of his entire article, sentence by sentence.  I undermined his major-premise and thus blew his whole essay out of the water.  I’ll sum it up. 

1.) He got the Cosmological argument wrong, that’s not what it actually says.

2.) He was wrong about causation, and he really believes in premise 2 of the Kalam Cosmological Argument deep down.  It’s fundamental to his field. 

3.) His assertion that things don’t require suffiecient reason for their existence is contradicted by mainstream science and metaphysics, and its everyday application leads to obvious absurdities.

4.) If he agrees with the principle of sufficient reason, God’s existence follows logically through the Kalam Argument, and if he disagrees with the principle, un-justified belief in God is warranted to the believer.

So he’s wrong four main ways at least…lovely.

-Payton

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17 Comments

Filed under Christian Arguments, Cosmology, Refutation

17 responses to “Refutation: “Logical Analysis of the Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God”

  1. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an amateur when it comes to philosophical apologetics. My training is in geology, and I usually focus my blog on the interaction of geology and Christianity.

    If I oversimplified the cosmological argument (of which I know there are variations) then I ask for the forgiveness of those who know better. I’m certainly open to suggestions for improvement.

    In the “Exposing PseudoAstronomy” post that you analyze, the author concludes by suggesting “Brane theory” (or a multi-verse as opposed to a universe) as one way around the cosmological argument. Isn’t this just putting the problem of the existence of the universe back one step, and therefore not really accomplishing anything?

    Thanks,
    The GeoChristian

  2. Pat

    Despite the fact that I think you do have some valid points, you really do come off very arrogant. A little bit of humility goes a long way!

  3. Jason

    Payton,

    I would like to address the handful of disturbing and inaccurate fallacies you posited in your refutation. The first was that the Cosmological Argument has stood the test of time as it seemingly should since it was proposed by the smartest people in history. That is of course two fallacies, the first is that the argument has stood the test of time, it has not it has frequently been refuted over the last several centuries. What you seem to be confusing is the proposal of an argument and its general acceptance. The second fallacy and this is fairly disturbing, is the idea that no one today can be as well informed or analytical as the great minds of the past. With over two thousand years of history, and volumes of new scientific discoveries and advancements, which have consistently refuted the absurdities of the past, the average American fifth grader is going to be more informed, with more accurate knowledge than the great thinkers of the distant past. The most brilliant analytical minds of our time, therefore will easily be able to out reason Aristotle and his ilk because they all start from false premises.

    “Ask yourself: Am I reallyso much smarter than every other philosopher of the last couple centuries that I alone have found the problem with “x” argument?”

    Yes… yes I am.

  4. Mr Kevin N,
    I guessed as much. I had the tendency of wanting to simplify my Cosmological Argument for the sake of getting more people to understand it, and for many other reasons. It’s a pity you commented here before I could e-mail you personally though! I really do think Battleskeptic Galacticrazy’s argument was kaputnik from the start, seeing as how it now looks as though he quoted you out of context. I completely understand the validity of your presentation of the Cosmological Argument. And I’m also glad to see you commented! Thank you!

  5. Pat,
    Well, I have to say I did get carried away…I don’t think I’ll edit out the sarcasm though, seeing as how much fun it was to write! I’ll have to be much more humble and considerate in my more serious essays from now on, huh? Looking forward to it!

  6. Jason,

    As is my habit, I’ve posted my answer to your objection under Objections > Refutations > Cosmology instead of answering it here. But let’s not be pretentious here! The last time I checked, two objections does not a handful make! Where are the rest of my disturbing and inaccurate fallacies now, Jason?

  7. This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,

    A definite great read…:)

    -Bill-Bartmann

  8. Hey good stuff…keep up the good work! I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,)

    A definite great read.. 🙂

    -Bill-Bartmann

  9. Great site…keep up the good work.

  10. doctor(logic)

    Imagine a crystal cube. Suppose this crystal is purely a static 3D entity in a 3D universe. There is no time dimension.

    Like all crystals, it is a lattice of points connected by bonds to nearest neighbors. But let’s suppose, also, that these bonds are directional. The bonds aren’t just line segments, but are arrows that always point away from a particular corner of the cube. We’ll call this special corner, the “origin”. The opposite corner, we’ll call “the terminus”.

    If we were somehow living in this cube, we would notice that EVERY point in the lattice “attracts” arrows (bonds) from the origin side, and “radiates” arrows out towards the terminus side. Invariably.

    Naturally, we would conclude that it is an absolute law of the crystal in which we live that there are always arrows going in to a point, and always arrows going out of it.

    Would we also conclude that, if the crystal is finite, there MUST be arrows entering the origin corner point of the crystal?

    Would we also conclude that, in a finite crystal, at the opposite corner of the cube, there MUST be arrows exiting the terminus point?

    We obviously would not.

    I do hope I don’t have to explain this analogy for you. You should be able to see that the concept of causation is only defined INSIDE the crystal and applies to points within it. It has no leverage at the origin corner or the terminus corner of the cube.

    P.S. As Jason says, the cosmological argument is popular only among Christian apologists, and that’s about it. It is considered an absurd relic by most contemporary philosophers and scientists.

  11. What is your justification for the qualifier “which begins” in the major premise?

    For example, if I were to say “All crows that are black have wings,” the qualifier “that are black” is meaningless unless I have some experience with non-black crows. There appears to be no logical difference between “all crows that are black have wings” and “all crows have wings.” In fact, the former statement is misleading because it implies some connection between blackness and wingedness.

    Unless man has some experience or knowledge of things that don’t have beginnings, what justification would there be for adding the qualifier “which begins” to the premise? Without some knowledge of things that lack beginnings, do we have any more basis for connecting beginnings with causedness than we have for connecting blackness with wingedness?

    • Andrew

      Vinny,

      This is a very interesting objection you bring forth. Usually those who attempt to refute the Kalam Cosmological Argument in any aspect tend to focus on its second premise that the universe began to exist. So, I am glad you brought this up!
      There are two problems with your objection. First, I believe this is a case of a simple category error on your part. The first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is not meant to identify a specific cause. It is meant to reveal that our logic can show that a first cause is necessary.
      Secondly, whether we can or cannot experience something that is without a beginning is irrelevant in this case. It is logically necessary for there to be something without a cause in order for us and the universe itself to be here today. If you refuse to accept this necessity this would result in the dreaded problem of infinite regress (ad infinitum).
      Let me illustrate what I mean hear using the planet Earth.

      Let’s begin with planet Earth. We can say combinations of various forces were responsible for its existence, but ultimately there was at least one cause for it being here today. But what about these factors that contributed to Earth’s development? What caused them to be? You can see where I am going with this. Just look at anything that is in our universe: atoms, pasta, and the evil monkey in my closet, and you will see that each needs a cause for its existence. In the end, this all leads to the tremendous question: what caused the universe?

      This is the question your objection seems to imply when attacking premise one, because it seems you assume that the identity of a thing is needed to verify the necessity of its existence. But this is the wrong question to ask here when dealing with the integrity of the first premise or “major premise” of the Kalam Cosmological Argument. The question you should be asking is whether or not there is a first cause that has no beginning. Clearly, there would have to be, and even if we cannot experience this cause with our senses, we can deduce logically that there was one. If you want, I can go into detail about the problem of infinite regress, but I am sure you are just as aware as I am of the ramifications of such a problem.

      • It is meant to reveal that our logic can show that a first cause is necessary.

        It sounds to me like the first premise requires a belief in uncaused things that have no beginning. However, the conclusion of the argument is that there is an uncaused thing with no beginning. The reasoning seems circular.

        I understand that the idea of an infinite regress poses a problem although I don’t consider it a cause for dread. The idea of an infinite being is just as big a challenge. I don’t see that substituting one for the other accomplishes much.

  12. Andrew

    Payton,

    I was thinking as I usually do and a thought crossed my mind that made me realize the ramifications of God’s a temporalness may contradict God’s very nature.

    When we say God is outside of time, it means that the first moment, the last moment, and all time in between happened simultaneously from God’s perspective. And when I use the word “simultaneously”, I mean in an a temporal sense just to be clear. Anyway, should what I say be true, this means that God cannot simply be the creator of the universe, but he is also the author of the universe for he created every moment in time. He wouldn’t be able to sit back and watch the events play out because everything happens to him simultaneously.

    Think of a flipbook. You draw a ball on the first page, followed by another on the next page, and then flip through it to make it seem like your art is actually moving. To the person who created the flipbook, they create each of those drawings individually in order to create the whole. If God exists outside space and time, then that is how he would have to go about creating our universe, in that God has to be outside our timeline and create each moment separately.

    To basically summarize points: God has to control his creation, for every moment he would have to create it because he exists simultaneously with all moments in time. It would be total control, just like a novelist has total control of the novel they write.

    As you can see, our free will is at risk should this argument have any merit to it, opening up the platform to determinism.

    What do you think?

  13. Eric

    Well, I have to say that your arrogance and stubbornness have done very little to surprise me. I’m very sure that your “God” will be happy to know that you defended him so well. He will be truly pleased that you scorn those who oppose your ways. In fact he may even grant you a special place in heaven with the Pharisees. (oh no look out i’m using bible lingo!) I find it interesting that you use the scientific method in your argument, mainly because theology and the scientific method have nothing to do with each other. Also, I have to say that you discuss the beginning of many basic things. I’m not sure if you are aware, but the universe is far more complex than a chair or “antidisestablishmentarianism.”
    Alas I digress, i will take no more low blows at your arguments. It is late and i have to be awake early. i initially began this retort at 1 am to tell you that you are a terrible Christian. you do nothing for your religion except push people away and make it look nasty and distasteful. It is people like you that ruin anything good in this world. Do not bother replying cause i won’t be back to this blog. I stumbled upon this looking for actual logical arguments, not somebody who is going to degrade his opposition to try and make himself sound more appealing. I’m sorry for your God if he exists that he has to deal with the misrepresentation that you provide.

    I write this cause i love you! If you want to support something do it in a loving manner, even if something upsets you. Force and anger will dismantle everything others have done.

    With the love i can provide,

    • highschoolapologetics

      Though you said “do not reply”,

      I feel like I should try,

      God has a sense of humor,

      and so, indeed, have I!

      – Payton 🙂

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