Category Archives: Refutation

Refutation: Brett’s Objection to the Cosmological Argument

I’d like to give a big shout out Brett for posting an objection to the Cosmologial Argument.  We love getting responses!  I’m going to take the first crack at answering it- though I’m sure Payton will come along and yell at everyone since the Cosmological Argument is his baby.

Brett writes,

“If the universe never had a cause for its existence, if it never began to exist, but it exists now, then it is infinite. Given infinite time, every possibility is allowed to be actualized, including the possibility for everything to cease to exist. ”

Please explain how that same argument doesn’t apply to the “eternal cause” of the universe.”

The concern he raises rises from the misuse of “eternal” and “infinite”. They are not synonyms. Something that is eternal IS forever- it cannot change. If I am eternally turning on a lightbulb, then I can never turn it off- time is not even a relevant concept in eternity. It is forever in the present tense- it wasn’t, and it won’t be- eternity is.

Meanwhile, infinity is an inconceivably large measure, in this case applied to time. I think that infinite may not have been the best word choice, but it is the word used here, and in all other versions of this argument, so I’ll do my best to explain the difference. Infinity describes a material object or effect. Since infinite time is just an endless amount of time, the effects of time can take place on an object. It is entirely possible for all the atoms of a planet to simultaneously repel each other, or for two comets to collide and form a Bengal tiger, since there are infinite chances for these things to occur. It is also possible for all of the particles in the universe to explode.

God, or the “eternal cause”, is eternal in time, and infinite in space. Thus He (or it) is infinitely larger than the universe, but is unchanged by the passing of time.

Now, how do we know that the universe isn’t eternal? It began- something that is eternal just is , with no beginning. And I am not being a whacktacular fundie for asserting the universe had a beginning; virtually all modern science confirms the universe began to exist.
“It’s also common knowledge that the universe isn’t eternal but had a beginning ten to twenty billion years ago, and that it is expanding.” (Kitty Ferguson, The Fire in the Equations, 1994, p. 89)
“Now three lines of evidence—the motions of the galaxies, the laws of thermodynamics, and the life story of the stars—pointed to one conclusion; all indicated that the Universe had a beginning” (Dr. Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 1978, p. 111) (Note: Despite his book’s title, Dr. Jastrow is an evolutionary astronomer, an agnostic, and at best a deist)
“It was apparent that matter could not be eternal, because, as everyone knows, eternal things do not run down.” (Dr. Bert Johnson, So Long Eternal Universe; Hello Beginning, Hello End!, 2001)

Therefore, since the universe is demonstratabely not eternal, even if it is infinite, arguments that apply to it cannot apply to an eternal being or cause.

Sincerely,
Sarah

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Filed under Cosmology, Refutation

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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Filed under Christian Arguments, Cosmology, Refutation

Refutation: Circularity of Objectivism

bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbI RECENTLY CAME ACROSS a part of a Debate about Relativism on Philochristos where the Subjectivist attempted to refute objectivism and support subjectivism as the better explanation of morality.  Though I admire the depth of the subjectivist’s speech, and the lengths to which he was able to go to try and defend his position, I will only respond to the Argument from the Circularity of Objectivism at the bottom of the post.

 

The crux of the problem with objectivity is its circularity:
Q: What is immoral, objectively?
A: It is X
Q: How do you know?
A: We feel in our minds that some things are right and some are wrong.
Q: But, Culture #2 feels that X is moral.
A: Humans can sometimes be wrong and it does not take universal agreement to know that something is objective.
Q: Well, how do you know YOUR view is right?
A: Because we feel in our minds that X is immoral.

 

He brings up the objectivist defense of saying societies and cultures can be mistaken about objective values.  I have to wonder why he presents this in such a way, because the argument not only rests on two gigantic misunderstandings, but also seems to miss its mark here.  He seems to think that because the objectivist claims that X is immoral because “we feel it in our minds” and another culture claims that X is moral, that objectivism is circular.  On the surface, this makes sense.  If the objectivist only thinks X is immoral because he thinks it’s immoral, it would seem that he’s being quite circular, right? Actually, no.  The very example dialogue itself rests upon two distinct misconceptions.

1: That the objectivist “only” believes X is immoral because…

There is no one single reason to be an objectivist.  There are many.  In this way, by presenting the objectivist as having only one argument with the specific intent of demonstrating his circularity, the subjectivist has committed the fallacy of begging the question.

2: That the objectivist believes X is immoral “because”…

This is a scarcely noticed assumption on t he part of the subjectivist.  He does not understand the objectivist/absolutist’s very position here.  Objectivism includes in its definition the idea that objective moral values are absolute and irreducible, which is to say, intuitive.  The very idea is that human beings know moral values intuitively, and that no further reason is necessary, or even possible.  Quite literally, it is the objectivist’s position that “the buck stops here” with regard to moral facts.  This is not an argument from the gaps.  It is the natural outcome of applying the Leibnizian Principle of Sufficient Reason.  Suppose you are given a variable A.  You may set out to explain A by saying A=B.  This plainly explains nothing, so you go on to say that B=C=D=E=F=G=H=I=J=K etc…  One begins to notice that no matter how far you go, you will not have explained anything, because you have not implemented any objective values.  However, when one says that K=2, you have implemented an objective value and thus explained all the letters, including A.  To apply my example to the subjectivist’s example dialogue, simply replace “Variable A” with “Action X”, and replace the objective value of 2 with the objective value of evil.  The argument is at once revealed for what it really is; a total misunderstanding of the nature of objective value.

One more thing before I get to the point about the Subjectivist’s Dialogue being misguided.  While I was busy reducing the enemy arguments to Algebra, which makes me happy, I remembered a debate-ish thing about the Resurrection on Facebook which I had with some atheists.  Strangely enough, after about the 100th post (it later went to about 400 posts) we had stopped talking about the Resurrection, and begun talking about truth, the will, the “soul”, and naturalism, because I had inadvertently brought them up in a brief defense of miracles.  I realized that one of my posts about the moral argument is rather relevant to this discussion.  It uses bigger words, mentions the Transcendental Argument (ignore that reference), is substantially ruder, and is laced with venom and condescension.  Don’t let that distract you from how awesome I am.

 

 

Post #54

Patrick Julius replied to your post5 hours ago

 If something is good because it follows God, then God is good because God follows God. Similarly, if something is good because it is pink, then pink is good because it is pink. The statement “God is good” is vacuously true under any system in which good is equated with following God.


Post #59

You wrote21 minutes ago

If by saying “God is good” you believe you’re making a vacuous statement, you are affirming the transcendental argument. Do you know of the Christian theological tool called the Euthyphro Dilemma? I would research it if I were you. Also, when you ask what God is, what necessarily follows next is God’s “nature” or “essence”. It is His definition, per se.

Suppose I make the query: “What is God?”

One may say, “God is good”, or perhaps “God is almighty”
But are these things necessarily vacuous? Of course they are! Just as vacuous as saying “people are personal”! If you ask what something is, and are able to give an answer which is not vacuous, it is certainly known that you have asked what a contingent thing is, and explained it in terms of a Necessary Thing. It is impossible to explain a thing in terms of itself, and not be making a vacuous proposition. If you try to explain a thing, it is always possible to explain it in terms of itself and give a vacuous explanation, and sometimes possible to explain it in terms of something else. If something is explainable in terms of something else, it is contingent. Now once thing A is explained in terms of B, is B explainable in terms of something else? If it is, then A still has no meaning. A will not attain meaning/value until it is explained by something with absolute value.
Eg: a=b, b=c, c=d, etc… Unless one of those ends up looking like d=2; a, b, c, d, e, f, g or what have you will all be meaningless! Unless one of them is explained in terms of an absolute value such as 2! Since 2 is not explainable in terms of anything else, any proposition about 2 is vacuous, and thus 2 must be Necessarily Existant. Likewise, all such propositions are meaningless unless explained in terms of something whose only explanations are vacuous. Therefore, until you have Something which cannot be perfectly explained in terms outside Itself, you can’t explain anything. To summarize: The Transcendental Proof of the existence of God is that without Him you could not prove anything else.
 

 

Here’s where I get to the point about the dialogue being misguided. The root of the problem lies in the main point of the Subjectivist’s Dialogue.  He claims that Culture#2 makes a claim contrary to the claim of Culture#1.  To apply my example again, we can see that C1 makes the claim that A=2, and C2 makes the claim that A=3.  Again, the mathematicization of the argument reveals its nature.  It does nothing to defeat objectivism, suprisingly enough, because both C1 and C2 believe that A has absolute value.  Both claim that A is a number.  Both are objectivists.

We must remember that when the objectivist claims that different cultures may be mistaken about moral values, he does mean that his culture could be mistaken as well.  Whether or not he could be mistaken is irrelevant to his position.  As long as he is mistaken about something objective, his position as an objectivist is valid. 

Here we can see that it is not the objectivist who cannot explain his position, it is the subjectivist.  When asked to explain A, the objectivist says that A=2, and thus explains A.  Our little pet subjectivist here then asks him to explain 2!  It is abundantly clear that 2 explains itself, and that the subjectivist’s demand is thus misguided. 

But what about the subjectivist’s position?  What if you ask him to explain A?  He claims that A=B=C etc.  Clearly, he has not explained anything.  He says that A=B, and when asked what B equals, he says B=A!  In fact, in the one great irony of this argument, it is subjectivism which is demonstrably circular!

-Payton

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Filed under Christian Arguments, Morality, Refutation