Tag Archives: infinite

Sarah’s Confusing Post

Sarah recently responded to a question posted by a man named Brett on the Cosmological Argument.

“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.” : Sarah

confused-full1I really don’t understand what it is she is trying to say here, and I just wanted to post this in order to distance myself from the inevitable fallout from Sarah’s post. I think it’s extremely confusing and deceptive, and takes up far too much space making unnecessary points, and even more making incorrect ones.

The beginning is good, though. I more or less agree that therein lies the answer to Brett’s question. I would normally take the time to personally dismantle any objections or answer questions, since I’m easily more philosophically capable than Sarah, (though she has me beat in some areas.)

To reconnect with the beginning of my post, I just want to point out what I thought was the most retarded thing Sarah said, which is quoted at the top of this page. Barring consideration of the corporeal Christ, God has no size. He does not occupy space, so I have no idea what Sarah means. Moreover, Sarah does not seem to understand that actual infinites such as she has described cannot exist. You cannot have one physical object which is infinitely larger than another physical object. That simply cannot be. (I will post on this topic later)

The distinction to be made is between actual infinites, potential infinites, and eternity. An actual infinite is a thing which is physically infinite as a measure, not as a property. An abyss would be a good example. Another good example would be a beginningless universe, or a hotel with an infinite number of rooms. A potential infinite can be characterized as something indefinite or potentially infinite. An example would be an endless universe. A universe which goes on forever does not happen all at once as one big infinitely long timeline with two ends. It would have one end (the beginning) and at no given point in it’s history could someone look back and say, “The universe is infinitely old”. No matter how far you go along the line, there is always a finite traversed-distance behind you.

I will post more later.

-Payton

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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

1 Comment

Filed under Cosmology, Refutation

Cosmological Argument

2723284090_b1fa3a8521THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT is an attempt to prove that the universe must have been caused by something which, among other things, was not itself caused.  The obvious upside to this lies in the attributes of the Uncaused-Cause one may derive from the Cosmological Arguments. There are several known variations of the Cosmological Argument.  They are; the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the Argument from Contingency, Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas, and my Expanded Cosmological Argument.

Obviously, to begin with, one must count up his options, right?  In this question, there are only the two main options of believing the universe to be caused, or not.  Very well.  How much can be said about the two? Either:

a.) The Universe was not caused (does not actually exist now)

b.) The Universe was not caused (came from nothing)

c.) The Universe was not caused (has always been here)

d.) The Universe was caused (finite, has not always been, nor will always be)

To begin, the first option contradicts observation.  The observation in question being that the universe exists.  We can see it, touch it, taste it, hear it, and smell it even.  So, it seems logical to suppose that it exists, right?  Quite so, at first glance.  However, certain famous nuisances have come up with the idea that we could very well be just like brains-in-vats.  This concept is called solipsism, and is the notion that nothing is real but yourself; that the universe is illusory.  People have tried, and tried, and tried to push this idea through the population at large with little success over that last few centuries, and most every other time it pops up under a new name.  Now for the sake of coherence within this blog, I shall call these illusion doctrines, the Matrix Theory.  A key thing to note is that the Matrix Theories, though having different names, always fall prey to the same refutations.   The only one you’ll need to use however, with regard to the Cosmological Argument, is a double-weapon composed of Leibniz’ Principle of Sufficient Reason, and the notion of Self-Consciousness.  Simply put; everything requires an explanation, yourself incuded.  If you’re just in the matrix, and you say that nothing really exists, YOU are forgetting the fact that YOU are in the matrix, and YOU say that nothing exists.  You yourself require a reason for your existence.

The next option, which dictates that the universe came from nothing and by nothing, is implausible.  We see things in the universe which have reasons for their existence and/or state of being.  Indeed, everything we see in the universe has sufficient reason for its existence.  The universe is merely an expansion of space, time, and matter.  These are things, in fact.  However, since time and space are a bit more difficult to quantify and conceive than matter, I will ask you to understand that the three together behave in the much same way with regard to causality as matter alone.  So we see that all the material objects (plants, animals, planets etc…) in the universe requires sufficient reason for its existence, but what exactly is meant by all matter?  The universe is matter.  It is things:

All things require sufficient reason for their existence = The universe requires sufficient reason for its existence.

So, if it cannot have come from nothing, by nothing, does it still need a cause for it’s existence? Could it not have simply always existed?  Well, if by always, one means “at all times” then you would be absolutely right.  As with matter above, the universe is time and/or time is the universe.  However, if by always one means infinite, then you would be absolutely wrong.  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.  If then, the universe has already existed for an infinite time, then why hasn’t everything ceased to exist?  Follow that out.

Now the last option is that the universe was caused: that it has not forever been, nor will forever be.  Seeing as how the universe obviously exists, and this is our last option, it is either right, or I have overlooked a possible option.  Try me.

So, according to the third refutation, it is impossible to have an infinite regress of causes. For more reasons behind this notion, see the links at the bottom.  However, there are the actual presentations of the Cosmological Arguments themselves to be shown.  Very well, then.:

I have already presented an explanatory version of the Argument from Contingency above, and my extended Cosmological Argument is an expansion of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, I shall present my Expanded Argument, and then paste the Five Ways.

EXPANDED COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

1 Everything which begins to exist must have a cause for its existence.

1.2 The universe began to exist

1.3 Therefore the universe had a cause for its existence

2 The universe is primarily the expansion of time, space and matter

2.1 Therefore time, space and matter were caused.

3 An effect may be no greater than its proper cause

3.1 A thing may not cause itself to exist

3.2 Therefore the cause of the universe is eternal and immaterial.

4 Only a free-agent is able to produce real change (greater change) either through time, space and matter, in its creation, or in its annihilation.  All other changes are merely natural and deterministic processes (lesser change)

4.1 In the absence of the universe (time, space and matter) there could be no change of the lesser sort

4.2 Therefore the immaterial, and eternal cause of the universe was not an inanimate thing, but a free-agent, a mind.

5 The difference between nonbeing “in reality” and being “in reality”, is an infinite difference

5.1 The difference between nonbeing “in the mind” and being “in the mind” is an infinite difference

5.2 The free-agent in question created something from nothing, and it follows that it conceived something from nothing

5.3 To create something from nothing is an infinite power, and to conceive something from nothing is an infinite act of conception or knowledge.

5.4 Therefore the cause of the universe is an eternal, transcendent, omniscient, omnipotent mind, which can properly be called God.

Obviously, there are many objections to be raised against my argument.  Several may be valid, indeed I wouldn’t be surprised if they were.  But I’m confident enough with my argument to bet that I can refute every objection raised.  And I shall do so on another page.

 

THE FIVE WAYS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS were the first official Christian formulations of the Cosmological Argument.  The first four are indeed Cosmological Arguments, but the fifth is a Teleological Argument.  Nowadays, more modern versions of the Cosmological Argument are used, but the Five remain the foundation of First-Cause Theistic argumentation.

 

THE FIVE WAYS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS

 

Below is a quote from the Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas, Second and Revised Edition, translated by The Fathers of the English Dominican Province, 1920.

 

“The existence of God can be proved in five ways.

The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

The third way is taken from possibility and necessity, and runs thus. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that which is possible not to be at some time is not. Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing. Therefore, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence–which is absurd. Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary. But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.

The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But “more” and “less” are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.”

Of all things, do NOT send me objections to the Five Ways.  They’re rather archaically worded, and thus if you think you’ve refuted them it is more likely that you have misunderstood the text, than actually made a valid counter-argument.  All the same, if you are yet unconvinced of your counter-argument’s fallacy, post it as a comment, and I shall answer it on an objections page.

More often than not, the atheists who are well-enough informed such that they know what a Cosmological Argument is, are prone to scoffing away its simplicity with the claim that it’s meaningless.  This claim is almost valid, and really when you think about it, they make sense.  What good is a first-cause alone?  It’s no good at all, I say.  What must be done after the presentation of the 1st three premises is an elaboration on what exactly the Cause must have been.  I make the argument that it has all the classical attributes associated with God (sans omnibenevolence, Trinity, and love to name a few) and usually, this is enough to make any atheist stop in their tracks.  Most self-dubbed atheists will not react to this argument by converting.  This is because of the Wall of Incredulity, the most formidable obstacle to evangelism, which shall be discussed later. 

The crucial thing to know, then, is that even though this is a valid proof, it will only change the toughest of minds

7 Comments

Filed under Exterior Subcategory, Theistic Arguments, Theoretical Category