Open thread for episode 22.41: Tracie and John


In other news:
Tracie will be participating in a panel discussion hosted by Humanists of Houston, that is free and open to the public.
Who: https://humanistsofhouston.org/
Where: rini Mendenhall Community Center, 1414 Wirt Rd, Houston, TX 77055
When: Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, from 1-3 PM
Optional: They are accepting canned goods as donations for the Houston Food Bank

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Comments

  1. bigzebra says

    Brandon’s point about the Kalam Cosmological Argument:
    I’m really sorry about the Big Bang. I didn’t mean to start it, or trigger it…
    But I’m sure you will agree that things worked out for the best.

  2. suedoenimm3 says

    Hey Brandon
    I cover the first cause, the cosmological argument, and infinite regress in my YouTube video.
    “Why is there Anything? What is the First Cause?” by SueDoeNimm3.
    It’s nine minutes long. The cosmological argument is first mentioned at the 2:30 point.
    .
    I argue that for the first cause something like “quantum loop gravity” is a better candidate than God. And I further suggest that we continue investigating.

  3. amuthan says

    Brandon from Australia,

    If you are going to use the law of physics to prove the universe has a cause, then be consistent and tell us what the cause of God is.

    If the complex universe has a cause, then an infinitely complex God must have a more powerful cause. What caused God?

    If you propose that God did not have a cause for certain reasons, then atheists will argue why don’t you apply those same reasons to the universe so the universe would not need a cause either?

    The cause and effect physics law you use can only applies to events when time exists. Before time began, this law does not apply and I would challenge you to find any physicist that agrees with your use of this rule to events that occurred pre-big bang.

    I appreciate your point that ‘the universe not having a cause’ is a highly improbable idea, but if all other ideas are impossible, it must be the truth.

  4. John David Balla says

    @suedoenimm3. Fine job with your video. Succinct and cogent often are not the descriptions common among physicists or philosophers. Also worth pointing out is that quantum entanglement is by no means “self-evident” as asserted broadly by the caller (forgot his name). But I do give him honorable mention for remain civil throughout the discussion, at least the part I heard. What I find frustrating is that we tolerate these arguments knowing that both the evidence and reasoning that support the god claim is woefully lacking. And any honest advocate knows this. But if just a sliver of support can be stipulated to, that is a WIN for team god. And that’s what it has come down to.

    This all reminds me of a defense attorney who finds a hole or two here or there in what otherwise is overwhelming evidence against their client. I think there’s a lesson to learn from this analogy. Both the caller and the defense attorney know that casting doubt can move the needle in their favor, and rather disproportionally. Arguably equivocation at its finest whereby it’s not so much the language that is ambiguous, but rather, the scale of measurement that becomes askew.

  5. Marianne Sturgis says

    This episode was awesome. Tracie was articulate and amazing as usual and John is fantastic! I love the way he sighed and said the cosmological argument makes his eyes gloss over. When Tracie had him take over the Brandon’s arguments he was articulate and could refute the callers claims. Give yourself more credit, John! You did great!

  6. Richard Green says

    For me to find Brandon remotely credible, one of the many things I’d have to believe is that the existence of a God he claims to be omnipresent and possessing such limitless agency would inevitably require a complicated philosophical explanation to demonstrate.

  7. godzillaeyes says

    cobbler, look at the 1st and 4th comments, people gave links for what Joaquin was talking about.

  8. brandon1from1australia says

    Hi all its Brandon from Australia.

    First of all I recommend that if you want to look more into the kalam cosmological argument you can follow this link
    https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/existence-nature-of-god/the-kalam-cosmological-argument/

    That is a very detailed defense of the argument and is explained much better much better than I did.

    To answer @amuthan who asked why cant you apply the argument to God,”What caused God?”
    I argued that “Whatever begins to exist has a cause”. If God is timeless then he did not “begin to exist” and therefore does not need a cause. However, the Universe did “begin to exist” and therefore does need a cause.

    To answer @suedoenimm3. I have watched your video.
    firstly there is other evidence that points to absolute beginning besides the Big Bang model. Second law of thermodynamics and the bgv theorem. Just to name two. Also currently no semiclassical limit recovering general relativity has been shown to exist. which means that its is unproven that Loop quantum gravitiy description of spacetime at the planck scale has the right continuum limit. And there are lots of other problems with LQG. So it definitely does not seems like a better candidate.

    There was also a few other problems in your video.

    This is a quote from Alexander vilenkin one of the top cosmologists of our time.

    “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”

  9. Robert, not Bob says

    Well, we all know the answer to why Brandon isn’t taking his arguments to physicists: “they won’t accept it!”. This leads inevitably to anti-God conspiracy theories, and I suspect Brandon knows that too, and doesn’t want to go there.

  10. RationalismRules says

    Oh, I really hope Brandon comes to this blog!

    Perhaps we can start with why “I think it’s pretty self evident” is not an argument for anything…

  11. Joris J says

    The Big Bang is a MODEL of the universe. It seems to describes the evolution of the universe pretty well, EXCEPT the period before 1 Planck time, where the model and the mathematics break down. The only thing that we currently can say about that period is that we just don’t know what happened before (which is what Hawking much more eloquently said). All the rest is philosophy and hypothesizing.

  12. Joris J says

    And note to Tracy: FWIW, I certainly very much agree your view on ‘nothing’ and think it is very relevant..

  13. Muz says

    I love that nothing debate.It is something (har) that needs to be addressed more as the much of the traditional debate seems to be ruled by the fact that if humans can conceive of this opposite, non-state of things (solely by being a logical opposite, it would seem) then that logical precept has some reality that has to be taken seriously. Actually…it doesn’t.

  14. Safudas says

    I dislike the Kalam as anyone else would in the skeptic/atheist community.
    However the call quickly veered off into a heated exchange on defining “nothing”.
    So much so, I had to turn the volume down to try to hear what Brandon was trying to say.

  15. says

    >To answer @amuthan who asked why cant you apply the argument to God,”What caused God?”
    I argued that “Whatever begins to exist has a cause”. If God is timeless then he did not “begin to exist” and therefore does not need a cause.

    The problem is that “causation” is a product of the physics of this current incarnation of the universe. Whatever existed before the universe, you’re right–may be unbound by causation, because we don’t know what/whether there would have been a state at all like time–because nothing we know now can be used to inform the time before now (this incarnation of the universe). It seemed that a lot of your argument rests on making assumptions about the state of things prior using the state of things now, and that’s not safe to assume. Because we have causation now does not mean we had it before. It also does not mean we didn’t have it before. We can’t say what was before. The end.

    If you know of a way to actually test time before Big Bang–I do not doubt it will be of interest to physicists, who, again, are the people you need to support your view–and not just in their own personal views, but in a consensus form that can be demonstrated so that it represents valid, testable, scientific hypothesis that can become a theory.

    Hawking’s Beginning of Time Lecture:

    “Since events before the Big Bang have no observational consequences, one may as well cut them out of the theory, and say that time began at the Big Bang. Events before the Big Bang, are simply not defined, because there’s no way one could measure what happened at them. This kind of beginning to the universe, and of time itself, is very different to the beginnings that had been considered earlier. These had to be imposed on the universe by some external agency. There is no dynamical reason why the motion of bodies in the solar system can not be extrapolated back in time, far beyond four thousand and four BC, the date for the creation of the universe, according to the book of Genesis. Thus it would require the direct intervention of God, if the universe began at that date. By contrast, the Big Bang is a beginning that is required by the dynamical laws that govern the universe. It is therefore intrinsic to the universe, and is not imposed on it from outside.”

    It seems that Hawking is saying that knowledge claims about the time before Big Bang are not valid. And yet you make claims about the nature of things before Big Bang. I guess I would only caution that the nature of things before could be godless and also result in this universe, because we have no way of saying otherwise. When we say whatever came before is “timeless”–Hawking is saying that’s not supported or supportable. When we say it transcends space, Hawking is saying that’s not supported or supportable. Nothing you’re suggesting is supported or supportable, according to Hawking, based on the consensus view at the time he wrote this.

    I do agree consensus in science is ever-adjusting, and so if it has adjusted for physics, then I am working from old ideas, and I accept that if corrected. However, finding a few pet physicists who share a personal view that they have not managed to convince the rest of physicists is a new consensus, is not demonstrating a change in consensus. Published works, well received by peers, that have altered the view of the field so that physicists now assert you can talk about the time before BB with confidence and that your statements about it are, in fact, in line with their new consensus model, is really what you need to be validated in your claims.

  16. says

    I should add it is also interesting that we can demonstrate that, as Hawking notes, the Biblical account of creation is 100% wrong, in that it contradicts even what was agreed to during the call–the 14 billion year creation date. While the generations provided in the early book could be flexible, I doubt we would be in disagreement that they’d be flexible to the tune of billions of years?

    This means (1) the Bible is demonstrable false or (2) the Bible is demonstrably metaphor. And that means we’re dealing with cherry picking Christianity.

  17. Altitudes says

    The Kalam is a fantastic exercise in philosophy in that it shows just how much wrongness can be packed into such a simple argument. I get lost in how to attack it, but frankly I think Matt’s approach, which amounts to “The conclusion isn’t even God”, is probably the best.

    Addressing the argument itself, my biggest issue is that the universe’s existence is not the same as things which exist in or as a part of the universe. It’s a composition fallacy. When we consider something in the universe to “begin to exist” it is an existence stemming from the universe itself. It is not therefore possible to apply the same principle to the universe itself. Every sheep in the flock had a mother, therefore the flock had a mother. Nope.

  18. amuthan says

    Hi Heicart,

    As you demonstrated with the incorrect order of events in Genesis, it is infinitely easier to refute Christianity than the Cosmological argument. For a start, you don’t need a degree in physics and philosophy and it will be interesting to see if such a caller is willing to change subject to their specific religion of choice.

    Of course beyond Genesis, my personal favourite ways to expose Christianity are: God allows slavery in Exodus 21, countless experiments demonstrating that prayers don’t work, the unclaimed Paranormal Challenge prize set up by James Randi, even Jews don’t believe in the Jesus resurrection story, and the ‘God sacrificed himself to himself to save us from himself to change a rule he made himself’ line.

  19. Jules_UK says

    It was frustrating listening to brandon1from1australia – as it is with anyone who uses the Kalām Cosmological argument. Here’s the problem as I see it with each premise:
    “P1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause;”
    In everyday life we do not see things coming into existence, but simply the rearrangement of existing matter. We reshape materials to make objects, we extract metals from minerals that already exist, we recombine chemicals to make plastics, but none of these things is brought into existence. The same is true of living things. We may view animals as coming into existence when they are born or when they are conceived, but at the cellular level, life doesn’t pop into existence. New individuals are formed by cell division and fertilisation. People, plants, animals, objects, materials – these don’t begin to exist – they are formed from pre-existing matter.
    “P2. The universe began to exist;”
    We don’t even know that this is true. We know that the Universe exists (let’s not get into hard solipsism), but we don’t know for sure if it began to exist. Its existence may form part of some infinite cycle of universe birth and death. Since time is part of the fabric of the universe (space-time), and since the beginning of the universe is also the beginning of time itself, what does it mean to exist before time.
    Even if P1 and P2 were true and we accepted the conclusion that there was indeed a cause, this doesn’t point to a cause being a conscious agent.
    Tracy made a valid point about the idea of nothing being ill-defined, but after making the point, I think it would’ve been better to point out the other failings in the argument Brandon was trying to bring. Kalām is a poor excuse for an argument, and even if it were true, it wouldn’t point to a god.

  20. gshelley says

    First caller – the “Everyone will get what they deserve” sounds like pretty standard Christian “if you don’t believe, you’re going to hell”
    For th second, it was kind of amusing to hear Tracy not understand he concept of nothing, and he caller fail to grasp this, but it went on a little long.
    I think I partially agree with Tracy here. I don’t think that by definition there can’t be nothing, as by describing it makes it something, but I do think the concept needs to be demonstrated. Do we have a “nothing” to study? (No). What does “begin to exist” mean? If we are going to claim something “begins to exist”, we should be able to give some examples. Are these where a thing changes from one form to another? If so, we can’t then use those to support the assertion that a thing can begin to exist from no previous form.
    The “God doesn’t follow these rules, he didnt begin to exist” also fails. Putting aside that it is special pleading, what does “exist” even mean if there is no universe and no time? God existed, but couldn’t perform any actions, or have any thoughts?

  21. gshelley says

    It would also be interesting to see if the caller could defend the idea that his version of God could even have free will.
    If the being is omniscient, it knows everything it will ever do – how can it possibly make a choice?
    If it is “outside of time”, it can’t change. It can’t make decisions based on new information or have new (or any really) ideas or thoughts.
    If it existed “before” the Big Bang, is it supposed to have been capable of thinking? After billions of non years of timeless existence to have suddenly thought “this is boring, I’ll create the Universe now”?

  22. says

    Hello, this is my first post. My name is Paulo H Leocadio, I am an American born in Brazil, started to watch the casts about a year and a half, but got so deep into those episodes I immersed myself in, possibly, majority of the shows, even the “lost episodes”. I consider myself thorn between two worlds: born in the largest and most catholic country in the world and living in the most christian fundamentalist country in the world. I couldn’t even grasp things I learn like families thorn apart because of religion? Several times I heard “when I came out as an Atheist”?
    Being a scientist (Engineering, Physics, Social Sciences), I was raised in a very very catholic family, since I was a kid I drove everyone crazy, I would never accept the dogmas of religion classes we had in public school, and had a blast on religion school (what here is called Sunday school) because the fathers and teachers were very open to my several levels down questions.
    I am a “radical Gnostic atheist”, however I do not engage on debates or discussions. One of my dreams was to add Theology among my degrees. When Tracey mentioned crowdfunding the topics raised during the show, that was the last thing I needed to ask for permission to join the forum, I would love to engage on studies and researches.
    Kind Regards

  23. Monocle Smile says

    @brandon
    There’s quite a bit wrong there.
    First off. William Lane Craig is a professional liar and doesn’t know the first thing about physics. He was exposed big time in his debate with Sean Carroll.
    Here’s a link that actually draws from the BGV paper rather than Craig’s bullshit:
    https://debunkingwlc.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/borde-guth-vilenkin/
    Notice how much Craig gets wrong.

    firstly there is other evidence that points to absolute beginning besides the Big Bang model. Second law of thermodynamics and the bgv theorem. Just to name two. Also currently no semiclassical limit recovering general relativity has been shown to exist. which means that its is unproven that Loop quantum gravitiy description of spacetime at the planck scale has the right continuum limit. And there are lots of other problems with LQG. So it definitely does not seems like a better candidate.

    I would bet that you don’t know what any of this means and you’re just copying and pasting from apologetics websites. If I asked questions, you wouldn’t be able to answer.

    I argued that “Whatever begins to exist has a cause”. If God is timeless then he did not “begin to exist” and therefore does not need a cause. However, the Universe did “begin to exist” and therefore does need a cause.

    As has been pointed out, this is special pleading.

    There’s a very simple way to dismiss Kalam, by the way. The first premise can only be demonstrated to be sound if someone actually has data on “everything that begins to exist.” This data is not possessed, therefore the argument is not demonstrably sound and can be tossed away. Easy.

  24. suedoenimm3 says

    @ brandon1from1australia, #12
    .
    > To answer @suedoenimm3. I have watched your video.
    firstly there is other evidence that points to absolute beginning besides the Big Bang model. Second law of thermodynamics and the bgv theorem. Just to name two. Also currently no semiclassical limit recovering general relativity has been shown to exist. which means that its is unproven that Loop quantum gravitiy description of spacetime at the planck scale has the right continuum limit. And there are lots of other problems with LQG. So it definitely does not seems like a better candidate.
    .
    Note that I said “something like” LQG. There are many hypotheses. We’re still working on them. Remember neither Rome nor Relativity was built in a day.
    .
    A naturalistic explanation would have the advantage of not including the special and paradoxical assertion of a timeless mind. What was God doing or thinking before time began? Did he decide to create time before time existed? How does a decision happen without time?
    .
    A naturalistic explanation would also not have the paradoxical moral baggage that God has.
    .
    > There was also a few other problems in your video.
    .
    Do tell. 🙂
    .
    >This is a quote from Alexander vilenkin one of the top cosmologists of our time.
    “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”
    .
    Here are some more quotes from Vilenkin:
    .
    “Basically, I realized these theologians have the same problem with God. What was He doing before He created the universe? Why did He suddenly decide to create the universe? “
    .
    “In fact, we now have models where that’s not necessary—the universe spontaneously appears, quantum mechanically. “
    .
    And:
    “I say “nothing” in quotations because the nothing that we were referring to here is the absence of matter, space and time. That is as close to nothing as you can get, but what is still required here is the laws of physics. So the laws of physics should still be there, and they are definitely not nothing. “
    .
    So the “laws of physics” might be the timeless, spaceless, and immensely powerful thing you desire to identify.
    .

  25. Andres Villarreal says

    Tracie, there is a very important aspect of your argument, that nothing can be said about “nothing”, that I did not hear from you, but is clear and evident. In mathematics, there is a theorem that says that everything you say about the empty set is true. All my spaceships are blue. Also, all my spaceships are red. Every time I killed JFK I did it from the Grassy Knoll.

    Therefore, if you define “nothing” as the complete absence of everything, including matter, energy, time and everything else you can imagine, then anything you want to say about that “nothing” is true by mathematical theorem. You can say that the Abrahamic God created the universe from that nothing, that Satan created the universe and the Abrahamic God from that nothing, or that you were a god “back then” and you created God, Allah, Vishnu and Satan, and the universe.

    Anyone who says he/she understands what a true “nothing” is, is lying. And anyone who concludes something from his/her knowledge of total “nothingness” has no idea of mathematical or philosophical logic.

    Note for the moderator: every time I try to sign in here I have lots of trouble. I already exist as a Facebook user, a Google user, an AXP user and now as a Yahoo user, and every time I end up “waiting for moderation” presumably to the end of time, or getting an HTTP error when I try to log in. I am trying for the very last time, because I have been a fan of the Atheist Experience for some 4 or 5 years, If next time I try to participate I find that not even my login as a Yahoo user works, I am done.

  26. paxoll says

    Bravo y’all for having more patience to deal with this than me. I feel almost to the point of telling anyone who tries to make a scientific argument that I am going to simply ignore them until they get a terminal degree in that field or present someone with a terminal degree in that field making the same argument. I don’t have the time or energy to teach someone four years of biochemistry and genetics to demonstrate to them that complexity can evolve. I don’t have the time or energy to explain how “begins to exist” is meaningless without time. Especially when the person seems obviously intent on ignoring all evidence to the contrary to what some apologetic website is claiming. I will enjoy watching this trouncing.

  27. Yaro says

    There’s so many flaws with Brandon’s argument, which is why Kalam is only really convincing to people who already believe.

    The problem with his argument on there needing to be something powerful to cause the universe is that we have no idea what the physical mechanisms ARE pre-Planck. We also don’t necessarily need a lot of energy to affect a lot of energy. Simple machines are all about applying smaller amounts of energy to get a lot more output than we otherwise could.

    Hell, look at how transistors work, by applying a small amount of voltage from a signal we can get a larger voltage output. That’s how amplification works.

    And all Kalam winds up leading to is a lot of baseless assumptions culminating in God of the Gaps.

  28. says

    Kalām Cosmological argument and other with similar purpose are always interesting – I should say funny won’t – I consider them just thought traps to be used when a religious person want to go populist, talking or debating with someone with different beliefs.
    They are great during parties, debating over a bar table, etc.
    Usually they come with these philosophical words well connected, they win a lot of people who did not have time or capacity to think and there you go.
    At the end only empty words. Philosophy could be used to explain a god at the moment we present evidence and explain one. Until there it is just “lucubration”.

  29. Bluestar says

    I empathize with John in that when I hear the word Kalam, my eyes glaze over. Even if one was to ‘accept’ the premises, how does it lead to a god of an Abraham religion?

  30. loveromates says

    @Bluestar

    I agree with you. I think Christians are perhaps the most dishonest religious people on this planet.
    Even if kalam is correct, I don’t see how that translates into “humans were born sinful and deserve eternal punishment unless being cleansed by Jesus’ blood”.

    Youtube polytheist Ocean Keltoi believes in gods with kalam, too. However, I bet he is much more honest than Brandon that he stops at the conclusion that some creator exists. How he got to Odin is based on his experience.
    When Brandon mentioned that he is a Christian, I immediately had a feeling that he had an agenda just like William Lane Craig: using Kalam to lead to Jesus. Had Tracy progressed the conversation, I am certain that it was the direction he headed to just like any other Christians.

  31. oogabooga says

    I’ve been thinking about Brandon’s take on Kalam, and even if we do, just for the sake of debate, agree with the premises, I got stuck not only on the idea of the existence nothing that’s been chewed over a number of times, but on the idea of there having to be something bigger and more powerful to create something as vast as the universe. Why? A single neutron jumpstarts something as powerful and full of energy as a nuclear explosion. A single assassination jumpstarted the World War I, resulting in millions of deaths. An enormous forest fire is jumpstarted by a spark.
    So, the ‘being’ who ‘created’ the universe might as well be Matt’s universe creating pixie. Not even a powerful one. It could have been the one with stubby wings, a limp and a lisp, who usually sits in the corner, grunting and giving stupid looks whenever you call on it, who knocked over the marbles that started the universe-creating chain reaction and squeaked, “Did I do thaaaat?” (In my head, the pixie sounds like Steve Urkel, because … why not, it’s my pixie.) To shorten this entire tirade – the thing that jumpstarted the Big Bang might just have been the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. There is no reason to assume that the ‘ignition’ was anything more than an equivalent of a spark. AND it makes way more sense than a sentient überbeing that has not and could not have been created. Granted, debating it is as useful as debating god(s) or pixies, but still. 😉

  32. says

    Hi,
    I would like to discuss “nothing”. My first question is, what is your evidence for “Nothing”?
    How can our expanding universe be expending into nothing? If there was nothing then there was nowhere for the big bang to take place. Nothing is not space nor time and it has no dimensions. Nothing is not a solid nor is it matter or energy.
    Our universe has been expanding from the very beginning therefor there can not be nothing. There has to be something for the universe to expand into.
    I think that the gentleman arguing for nothing is just confused about the differences between nothing and infinity.
    Thank you

  33. says

    Hi brandon1from1australia, I have a quick question regarding the Kalam argument as you see it:

    When you say that something “begins to exist,” do you mean to say that it begins from previously existing material (as with a carpenter manufacturing a table from wood, nails, etc.), or rather, do you mean something beginning to exist not from previously existing materials?

    If it’s the latter, I’m going to need you to provide me with a verifiable example. As you said in the conversation, we witness things “beginning to exist” all the time, so this should not be difficult. Thanks.

  34. Paul Sparling says

    Thanks Tracie for saying what I was angrily going to type at they keyboard. Brandon is trying to apply the ‘rules’ that we observe WITHIN the universe to something OUTSIDE of the universe.
    We simply do not know, and may never know about anything ‘outside of’ or ‘before’ this particular universe. To suddenly start saying it must be this or it must be that is ridiculous.
    How can you say there cannot be causeless events outside our universe? On what basis?

  35. Paul Sparling says

    @ suedoenimm3
    Good points. I am surprised Brandon has not bought up infinite regress yet. (he will I am sure)
    It ends up applying to god’s mind though.
    What was god doing before he made the universe? What about before that? And before that? Presto! Infinite regress where god could never arrive at the point of creating the universe. I expect we will get some sort of nonsense about god existing at all times or something – where god is maling a decision while also NOT making a decision LOL

  36. ozzie says

    Has anyone ever been convinced of a god by The Kalām cosmological argument? I am with John on this one. It just sounds like a word game, and doesn’t link to a god anyone believes in that I can see. Why do people keep trying to defend it?

  37. Jasper Shemilt says

    I think the whole “Something can’t come from nothing” should be rephrased as “Something can come from something else”. This has been observed and avoids the trick the theists are trying to pull. Tracy has used this before with Eric from Mesa and I credit her for this idea. I wish she had used it with Brandon.
    Also, speaking as a physicist, virtual particles are uncaused in the way Brandon was using causation. I don’t want to write an essay here so I will take a mathematical approach. We deal with infinities and infinitesimals by extrapolating from how we approach them. For example many people think that 0/0 is infinite. This is not the case. 0/0 is indeterminate. For a given function or geometry 0/0 may be infinite or finite depending on how the numerator and denominator approach their values. We should assess “nothing” in the same way. As we approach nothing simplistic notions of causality break down and are replaced by more interesting causal relationships and non causal events. This leads me to conclude that Tracy is right in asking “How can non being be?”.

  38. Richard Green says

    I think the best framework for these sorts of conversations on the show could be ensured by insisting that a person who indicates they’re going to propound a theoretical justification for the existence of God first state the God in. which they believe. I’d be shocked if Brandon was convinced that Jesus is God by the Kalam.

  39. Scott says

    Not too long ago, Richard Carrier posted a “condensed” version of an argument that it is more likely that the universe appeared from Nothing than that gods are responsible for creation.

    “The Problem with Nothing: Why The Indefensibility of Ex Nihilo Nihil Goes Wrong for Theists”
    https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/14486

    I may have butchered the synopsis, but the link is still very interesting and pertinent to Tracy’s ponderings of the nature of Nothing.

    Here’s the opening paragraph of that blog:
    “I’ve argued before that if we presume there was once absolutely nothing, we actually end up with an infinite multiverse (Ex Nihilo Onus Merdae Fit). Which eliminates the fine tuning argument, by statistically guaranteeing any universe will randomly exist, no matter how improbable its arrangement of fundamental properties. Here I walk you through the logic in a way easier to understand and impossible to escape.”

  40. buddyward says

    I think that they should outright reject the initial premise of everything that exists has a beginning until the person making the claim demonstrates that claim. This is simply a black swan fallacy if it cannot be demonstrated.

  41. Scotty says

    The first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument states that “everything that begins to exist has a cause” and is justified through common experience and “self evidence”. However, by common experience the best we can claim is that everything that begins to exist has a MATERIAL cause. Therefore, if the universe began to exist then it must also have a material cause.

    This reveals a category error between the first premise and the conclusion (if the conclusion is supernatural). If we are to remedy this by including supernatural causes in the first premise then the certainty of the statement is entirely lost since we cannot differentiate between a supernatural cause and no cause at all.

    I should point out that this does not prove that the universe had a natural cause but exposes a simple, fatal flaw in the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

  42. keplersdream says

    Re: Brandon from Australia…

    Tom Stoppard, in his play/film Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, had the following exchange between the leads which may clarify the problem of nothing for our down-under friend:

    Rosencrantz: Do you think Death could possibly be a boat?
    Guildenstern: No, no, no… death is not. Death isn’t. Take my meaning? Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can’t not be on a boat.
    Rosencrantz: I’ve frequently not been on boats.
    Guildenstern: No, no… what you’ve been is not on boats.
    Rosencrantz: … I wish I *was* dead.

  43. gabebodeen says

    (I tried posting this about 12 hours ago; if this becomes a double-post accidentally, feel free to delete it.)

    Regarding the dispute about “nothing”, it sounded to me like the conversation between Alice and the White King in Through the Looking Glass:

    —–
    “I see nobody on the road,” said Alice.

    “I only wish I had such eyes,” the King remarked in a fretful tone. “To be able to see Nobody! And at that distance, too! Why, it’s as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!”

    “Who did you pass on the road?” the King went on, holding out his hand to the Messenger for some more hay.

    “Nobody,” said the Messenger.

    “Quite right,” said the King: “this young lady saw him too. So of course Nobody walks slower than you.”

    “I do my best,” the Messenger said in a sulky tone. “I’m sure nobody walks much faster than I do!”

    “He can’t do that,” said the King, “or else he’d have been here first.”
    —–

    In exactly the same way, Brandon used the word “nothing” in its ordinary usage, and Tracie seems to me to have been using it in a capital-N way, trying to force the conversation to treat Nothing as if it were a special kind of thing instead of literally “no thing”.

    There needn’t be any confusion; just use the word in its ordinary way. Suppose there are two boxes on the table, one of which has several things in it and the other of which has no things in it. If I ask for the box that has nothing in it, you know which one I mean! It’s the box with no things in it, not a box with a special thing called Nothing in it. Asking “but how can Nothing *be* in the box?” is a mistake.

    In terms of logical quantities: “nothing exists” = “no thing exists” = “all things do not exist”. When for philosophical arguments people imagine a situation when nothing existed, they’re using the word in the ordinary lower-case way, so that it’s identical to a situation in which anything that might exist in fact doesn’t exist.

    The Stanford Encyclodopedia of Philosophy has a long entry on nothingness, and one whole section of it is dedicated to discussing this issue: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nothingness/#SubArg . It starts off with the main intuitive “subtraction argument” about how you can form an intuition about a world in which nothing exists:

    “Imagine a world in which there are only finitely many objects. Suppose each object vanishes in sequence. Eventually you run down to three objects, two objects, one object and then Poof! There’s your empty world.”

    From there it goes into all manner of hifalutin’ complications (like how to handle a world with infinitely many objects, and whether the “things” that must vanish include abstract truths or only concrete objects, and whether the “empty world” concept would really count as a world), but eventually concludes that the subtraction argument is persuasive among philosophers.

  44. says

    another argument that keeps coming up of late:

    1) “x” exists
    2) god is “x”
    3) ergo, god exists

    this week it was shaun on “truth wanted”. his “x” was energy. last week a blog commenter discussed a friend who insisted that knowledge is “x”. previous shows have dealt with peddlers of “x” as goodness, love, nature, consciousness, logic, creation or existence itself. one caller tried to argue god as science. all are just the same attempt to define a god into existence merely by equating god with something else already known to exist.

    once the argument is recognized, it’s easily defeated by pointing out 1) its gratuitousness, as dan did by declaring as god the cone sitting on the desk in front of him and 2) its emptiness, because it doesn’t further in any way our understanding of “god” or “x”. this argument, which is just a form of guilt by association, is popular perhaps because it’s the easiest way to create a god ex nihilo, but so far nobody’s been able to justify attaching the “god” label to their particular pet notions.

  45. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Andres Villarreal #31:

    everything you say about the empty set is true

     
    Article: Wikipedia – Vacuous Truth

    In mathematics and logic, a vacuous truth is a statement that asserts that all members of the empty set have a certain property.
     
    For example, the statement “all cell phones in the room are turned off” will be true whenever there are no cell phones in the room. In this case, the statement “all cell phones in the room are turned on” would also be vacuously true, as would the conjunction of the two: “all cell phones in the room are turned on and turned off”.
    […]
    Outside of mathematics, statements which can be characterized informally as vacuously true can be misleading. Such statements make reasonable assertions about qualified objects which do not actually exist. For example, a child might tell his or her parent “I ate every vegetable on my plate”, when there were no vegetables on the child’s plate to begin with.
    […]
    “All my children are cats” is a vacuous truth when spoken by someone without children.

  46. AlanB33 says

    As Jules_UK was saying in 24) the only thing we might agree as coming into existence, if we’re generous, is the universe as everything else is a rearrangement of existing matter. So doesn’t the Kalam just say
    P1) The universe has a cause.
    P2) The universe began to exist.
    C) Therefore the universe has a cause. This means God is a spaceless, timeless, etc.
    You cant state the conclusion as a premise.

  47. DrC says

    Joaquin – Sigils of Power – around £20 on Amazon UK. For me, the biggest truth about this call was when Tracie and John (who used wonderful patience here) were trying to let Joaquin go, because his ideas were not testable, but his response was “… well, you could buy the book” … indeed we could … if we had no care for what we do with money. It would be better to give the money to a charity.
    It is rubbish and if Joaquin is serious rather than simply scamming us, then I am sorry for his delusion. Although for a brief moment, there was almost an Illuminati image.

  48. nocturn says

    Why doesn’t anyone question the “everything that *begins*…” part of the kalam?
    How did that part about beginning get into the premise?

    The premise could be “Everything has a cause” or “Everything that has a beginning has a cause”, they choose the latter.
    If the former is wrong then why don’t they give a counter example of this otherwise they have to use the “everything has a cause” premise.

  49. DrC says

    Brandon – “whatever exists must have a cause – the universe exists therefore it must have had a cause”. This is old and boring, but wait, Brandon has a new take on it or rather, … he does not.
    “How do you know that whatever exists must have had a cause ?” “…it is self-evident” – great answer! But rubbish.
    Nothing is self-evident when you are considering something that may ‘be’ but we do not yet have experience of it. And the reference to the second law being evidence for an absolute beginning is also misplaced and not helpful.
    “A singularity is an infinite point”!
    Brandon’s comments about the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem is again so misplaced and ridiculous. It is accepted as a theorem within the confines of what it is trying to explain about the universe but this also links to the inflationary model of the expanding universe … which may simply not be true – there are a number of strong reasons why inflation may be rubbish for example.
    The rules of our universe as far as science is able to establish them, are based on empirical evidence. If logic and philosophy play a part, this is only within the limits of empirically tested or testable phenomena – which is why philosophy has now basically fizzled out from being useful at the edges of our knowledge of physics. You do get the odd few areas where this strays, but they are not common and generally lead down narrow fruitless paths (I am trying not to now think of string theory!).
    The moment of creation is not something we are able to say anything about yet because it breaks all of our existing laws. Clearly, energy was created in the big bang for example. So those moments (i.e., the moment of creation) are something we do not have the answer to, and as ever, when faced with this situation, the gappy god jumps in … to an ever-decreasing island. And people like Brandon, with his limited knowledge, try to emphasise these situations by lying about the implications – which is tedious and boring.
    For Brandon, a little knowledge has gone a LONG way.
    To all those theists out there, I would argue that your faith in a god, should be the most important thing in your life to understand. It is far more important than working on faith – faith is an excuse for being lazy. If it means so much to you, if it means the most important thing to you, then spend A LOT of time researching your ideas through science … and see where the path leads you. It is a wonderful journey of discovery and one that, if welcomed with honesty and diligence, you will never regret taking.

  50. Scotty says

    @nocturn 55
    >The premise could be “Everything has a cause” or “Everything that has a beginning has a cause”, they choose the latter.
    >If the former is wrong then why don’t they give a counter example of this otherwise they have to use the “everything has a cause” premise.

    This language is used to preemptively address the obvious follow up argument: “if everything that exists has a cause, and God exists, then God must have a cause”. By limiting the Kalam to things that begin to exist then they are free to claim that God is eternal and therefore exempt from the argument.

  51. Honey Tone says

    @suedoenimm3

    Hey, sue, is that closing music on your vid “Mr. Soul” ? Way cool old school.

  52. ncburnett says

    I kind of liked this episode, you know exactly where it’s going and the amount of assumptions it takes to get there. If something exists, it must have a cause. So the universe exists because god made it. Why was it a god? Because the universe is complex and it takes a god to make it (we didn’t get to that part).

    But something can’t come from nothing and if god exists, god must have been made?
    God, being very complex, must have had a god that made him and so on, I’ll call this the godloop and it is infinite like the universe.

    Personally I think the universe might have popped out of the multiverse like a bubble comes into existence when pressure is lowered in a soda-can. But still best to go with I don’t know.

  53. Gail Herr says

    I want to address Al from Chicago, the last caller. It seemed to me Al was asking not only for resources, but for a way to respond to people in crisis or emotional pain. In the Chicago area it would be pretty easy to find resources for food, shelter or clothing. Any social service agency could help with that. Being in the moment with a person or family in crisis, and feeling like you have to say just the right thing, is hard. He asked “how do I give them hope without religion?” The good news is, Al, you already are. When you sit with someone, and really listen, and tell them that you hear them and you are trying to understand, you are already giving them hope. Your presence and focused attention are what’s important. You have to give them that before you send them to the food bank, or to Habitat for Humanity, or another resource. There are no magic words to make their unhappiness disappear. Just saying, “this is a really bad time for you, I can see that,” is what they need to hear. Then you can work on the next steps.

  54. RationalismRules says

    @Paulo Leocadio

    I am a “radical Gnostic atheist”

    That you capitalized ‘Gnostic’ is actually contradictory to ‘atheist’ as Gnosticism is a theistic system, so I’m assuming you mean uncapitalized ‘gnostic’ meaning ‘relating to knowledge’.

    Gnostic atheists are relatively uncommon beasties, so I’m interested… How you have reached the level of certainty to claim ‘knowledge’ that no god(s) exist?

  55. RationalismRules says

    @brandon1from1australia

    Such a brief visit!

    Other posters have raised many problems with your argument, so I’ll just ask this: did you look into any of the counter-apologetics to Kalam before accepting it as a compelling argument?

    Here’s a fairly comprehensive list of the flaws in Kalam:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20180417153236/http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Kalam
    …and that’s just Kalam, which only gets to ‘a cause’. There’s a whole extra set of problems with the follow-on claims that attempt to argue the cause as a ‘god’ with various imagine properties.

    Craig for the most part just ignores the refutations, despite them having been presented to him repeatedly in various forums. He just keeps making money from pushing an argument that he knows does not hold up to scrutiny. The only conclusion that I can draw from that is that he is not genuinely engaged in any search for truth. Is that really the source you want to draw your arguments from?

  56. says

    Just to note that Matt Dillahunty texted this to us during the show. I misread it, and just realized it applies to something Brandon must have said during that call:

    “Does the caller think Alan Guth understands his model (Borde Guth Vilikin model) better than the caller? Because Guth disagrees with his conclusion”
    “Sean Carroll debunked this in his debate with WLCraig… by having Guth point this out”

  57. Lamont Cranston says

    With regard to the “Everything that begins to exists has a cause,” I’d like to point out several problems that make this premise unacceptable.

    With one exception we have never seen anything “begin to exist.” The exceptions are particles and antiparticles that can begin to exist as a result of a quantum fluctuation that is the result of an energy change in a region of space that follows from the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle (there is no such thing as true nothing, nor steady state). This is a measurable situation.

    All other things that we might initially think “come to exist” actually only change form through the application or loss of energy. That is, mass might be changed to some other mass along with a loss of energy. Alternatively mass might be changed to some other mass along with a gain of energy. All the mass and energy used in this processes were already present and do not come into existence out of nowhere or nothing (i.e., nothing just begins to exist).

    At 1 Planck Time (before which we don’t know anything), it appears that everything that makes up the universe existed; not in its current form, but existed nevertheless. The principle of Cause and Effect has only been demonstrated IN this universe and anything prior to 1 Plank Time would not be IN this universe and the principle of Cause and Effect has no basis.

    Subsequent to 1 Planck Time the the universe began to expand and the energy levels per unit volume dropped until the first subatomic and then atomic particles formed. They did not begin to exist. They evolved from the energy content at the beginning. Every particle with mass has an equivalent energy (E=mCsquared). If you doubt this go watch videos of nuclear weapons exploding.

    So, Traci does not have to be concerned as to how Nothing can Exist, because around this neck of the woods for reasons we may never know, there seems to be no such thing as nothing, nor has there ever been as far as we can tell.

    Also, if a quantum fluctuation can happen on a small scale (a few particle/antiparticle pairs), there is no obvious reason that it cannot happen on a big scale (enough particle/antiparticle pairs with an imbalance in the annihilation process that leads to a universe. Either way there is no Cause because “cause” requires time (A before B) and if there is no time (before 1 Planck Time) there can be no Causing event because there is no time for one.

    The whole first premise is nonsense which is designed to seem to make sense to us IN this universe while being totally incapable of saying anything useful external to this universe. It’s about like saying Chess has to obey the rules of Checkers. Not only is this untrue, it is actually ludicrous.

    By the way there are several alternatives to the standard Big Bang (if you can label it as such). One of these is the idea that the Quantum background has always existed and universes inevitably pop into existence whenever a big enough fluctuation occurs. Then long after this universe has reached maximum entropy (no more stars, planets, systems, galaxies, etc.) another universe would eventually arrive on the scene in the same way. Again, just because it is inevitable because there will be a fluctuation in the not-nothing (i.e., Quantum field) that is always present for reasons we may never understand.

    On a different note, even if you bought the whole Kalam Cosmological Argument you still never get to a proof for God. Why? Because Kalam never requires the “cause” to be a thinking agent. All the thinking agent stuff is just a bunch of post script attached bold assertions with no supporting evidence. Then to make things even worse the bold assertions then lead to the specific God that the person making the argument wants it to be. This whole approach is nothing more than verbal sleight of hand that gives you no basis for reaching truth. I agree with John I. with regard to Kalam making his eyes glaze over. The people using it all seem to think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it’s just not. It’s not why they believe in a god, and it provides no basis for convincing anyone who isn’t convinced that a card trick is actual magic.

    Lamont Cranston

  58. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    That is, mass might be changed to some other mass along with a loss of energy. Alternatively mass might be changed to some other mass along with a gain of energy.

    Every particle with mass has an equivalent energy (E=mCsquared).

    Minor nit of mine. You may know what you mean, but at face value this is technically incorrect, and it’s incorrect in an extremely fundamental way. It’s a common mistake / misunderstanding, and it’s subtle, but important. You wrote as if mass can be converted into energy, or vice versa. This is incorrect. In the context of general relativity, this is actually into not-even-wrong territory. Mass is never converted into energy, and energy is never converted into mass. It’s actually nonsense. Here’s the short version: Mass is a property of every kind of energy. For example, if you take a box, and put some light in the box, then the whole box gains mass, even though light itself has no mass.When Einstein first wrote his paper, he wrote something like “m = E / c^2”, and not “E = m c^2”, and that was because mass is a property of energy. Mass does not change into energy, and energy does not change into mass.

    Now, to cut people off preemptively, matter can change into other kinds of energy, and other kinds of energy can change into matter, but mass is not the same thing as matter. Matter is just one kind of energy.

    If you like youtube lectures, I suggest this video on this topic from the Youtube PBS Space Time channel, which is the bestest Youtube channel in the whole of spacetime.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xo232kyTsO0
    The old announcer talks a little fast in the video, but this video, and everything else on the channel, are a superb introduction to all sorts of fun physics for the layperson. I’m basically taking several talking points from that video.

    PS:
    The notion that time and space comes in discrete units is part of several hypotheses, but nothing confirmed. Rather, what we can say with certainty is that we cannot measure to any distance precision better than the planck length, nor measure to any time precision better than the planck time, because doing so would basically require an absurd amount of energy – enough to create a mini-black hole with the diameter of a planck length or some such. One of the newer PBS Space Time videos covers this too!

    Really, everyone with a love of physics but not a college level knowledge of physics should check it out (and even some people with a college level should check it out too).

  59. Curt Cameron says

    I’ve been waiting to hear this episode, but it hasn’t been posted yet. Is there a problem?

  60. Paul Sparling says

    Looks like Brandon flew the coup. I guess he didn’t really want to discuss this after all. LOL

  61. MichaelCBR says

    My biggest problem with the Kalam has always been premise 1.

    “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.”
    I don’t know anything that ‘began’ to exist.
    Look at a tree. You could argue that a tree ‘began’ when the seed was generated by it’s parent, but then you can go back, and back, and back.
    The idea that something ‘began’ to exist is an arbitrary definition put forward by humans, as far as I can tell, nothing has a beginning, everything has a predecessor state and this can be traced back to planck time at which point measurable time is useless.

  62. sandro sacco says

    When Brandon states that to create the universe, something very powerful is needed, he demonstrates that he has understood absolutely nothing of all the physical concepts that he “threw up” during the call.
    In fact, what caused the BigBang most likely is a microscopic fluctuation of energy within the singularity.

  63. retak says

    @Lamont Cranston and a few others in this thread
    I’ve always been confused by presenting the Planck time as the limit of our knowledge concerning the Big Bang. Let me try to explain the gripe I have with it – that’s going to be a bit long – and if I get something wrong someone more knowledgeable can correct me.

    Using our current understanding of physics we rewind the universe and end up with a singularity (or some other event) some 13.8 billion years ago, which we’ll call the beginning of our universe for simplicity’s sake. Then since we know our understanding of physics doesn’t apply to timescales smaller than one Planck time, we conclude that we cannot say anything about what happens between the beginning of our universe as previously defined and one Planck time later. To avoid confusion let’s call “one Planck time after the beginning of our universe” the cutoff time: the time before which we don’t know anything.

    So here’s my problem: we only ever came up with a time for the beginning of our universe by applying our current understanding of physics through this time interval we now say it doesn’t apply. If we don’t know anything about what happens before the cutoff time how can we claim that anything significant happened one Planck time before it? Suddenly the cutoff time becomes defined as “one Planck time after that moment where we have no good reason to think anything significant happened”, which is meaningless. Essentially, the idea of the cutoff time as previously defined being the time before which our current understanding of physics doesn’t apply only makes sense if we assume that our current understanding of physics applies before the cutoff time – a self-defeating proposition if I ever saw one.

    I would say that the limit of our knowledge concerning the Big Bang is more easily understood in terms of energy density: using our current understanding of physics to rewind the universe we eventually reach a point where the energy density of the universe is so high that quantum gravity effects dominate. Since we have no verified model for quantum gravity this point becomes the time before which we don’t know anything. Notably we don’t know how long this period lasted or what came before it if anything, or for that matter we don’t even know if time as we currently understand it is a meaningful concept under these conditions.

  64. indianajones says

    @retak I mean, you are right, ask a physicist. Having said that, Let this non physicist take a swing by analogy.

    We have a very good idea of what north means, how it is used and, most importantly in this case, what that concepts limitations are. Once you are standing on the north pole, you can no longer go north, right? But we can still understand the concept of direction. Up, down, south, over there etc and our understanding of direction or distance (even Planck length) is not in the least impeded by the absence of a meaningful definition of north as a direction I can poke my finger at from this particular point

    Similarly with the whole time thing. It seems we do have a good understanding of time, even to the point where the concept itself becomes meaningless. We still travel through it (or along it or whatever), and we still have a good understanding of past, present and future even if ‘past’ stops making sense at one particular spot.

    Hope that helps.

  65. KK_Me says

    I really like Tracie and John as a host combo, great show!
    Although I was kinda hoping for a more in depth analysis of The VVitch’ similar to my favourite AXP episode(s) about Batman Begins. I really appreciated that the dialogue in ‘The VVitch’ only cobsists of literary quotes from that period.

    Concerning Kalam I quite liked the approach about nothing and would’ve only demanded evidence from the caller of the singularity not existing at some point (which the hosts certainly did using different words).

  66. Benoit Allard says

    Here’s another flaw in Kalam, and a logical one at that – the two premises use the verb ‘begin’ in different ways!

    1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
    Every piece of evidence for this premise is understood in a temporal sense: when we say “X begins to exist” it means there is a point in time T, such that X did not exist before T, and X does exist at time T and some time after.

    2. The universe began to exist.
    Aaaand there’s the rub. Physicists tell us that time itself began with the universe. There is no “before” when the universe did not exist. This is a different definition of “begin” for which we have no evidence corroborating premise 1.

    Therefore the conclusion cannot follow.

  67. wormlore says

    I think argument about “what is nothing” was a little off.
    “Nothing” is not something. It’s the absence of anything else. “Nothing” exists as the negation of everything.
    Insisting that “nothing cannot be, else it would be something” is fallacious is my view.
    It’s like if I say “I have no money” and you reply “what is that [no money] thing you have?”
    This was really playing on words. I agree with the caller on this point.
    .
    Now, asking to prove “a state of nothing can be” is valid. (Even the caller agrees implicitly as he then insists that there was “God”.)
    That part I agree with: like you, I’m not convinced that there was nothing at any point (in time or out of time).
    Also, there is no proof that “something can’t come out of nothing” since the only law of physics we know are those we inferred from our local part of our own universe.
    We’ve never been able to experience with true “nothing”. At best, we’ve worked with vacuum (absence of matter).
    We don’t know what was the state of “reality” before our universe, nor what the “laws of physics” were at the time, nor what the “laws of physics” would be in a different universe.
    .
    The first statement of the Kalam cosmological argument is formulated wrong: we have never seen anything “beginning to exist” in the sense of “coming out of nothing”.
    This premise is actually a bad formulation of a known physical “law” that states “there is no creation, only transformation”.
    Also, as the caller says a few times, this premise should be preceded with “in this universe”, which should be a pretty clear reminder that we don’t know about anything outside of our known universe.
    .
    Finally, the “laws of physics” are not absolute rules. They are only the description of our current understanding of the way the universe works.
    It’s a better foundation for knowledge than religion because it’s been shown to work. Repeatedly.
    But no serious scientist will say that it’s an absolute truth, that it’s some form of “absolute rule that cannot be broken”.
    This loops back to the fact that we haven’t experimented with whatever the state of reality was before the (theorical) beginning of the universe, so there is nothing evident about this first premise.
    .
    All this, and we haven’t even touched the second premise. :\
    This cosmological argument is interesting and well-known, and I’d agree it’s valid. To the extent that its premises are formulated wrong.
    If we slightly reformulate the first premise properly, it becomes “In this universe, everything that begins has a cause”. From there, the conclusion is not valid as it becomes a composition fallacy.
    If we reformulate more, “in this universe, nothing is created from nothing; everything is a transformation of something else”. This again prevents a conclusion (because composition) and, if allowed, the conclusion would be much different too: “therefore, the universe was created from something else”. Then, the idea that there was ever “nothing” is out of the argument completely.

  68. R Lobo says

    I’m a scientist (toxicology) and educator, so my physics knowledge is mostly limited to undergraduate coursework, and would appreciate corrections if I make any mistakes.

    From my limited understanding of the Big Bang model, if we start with a singularity from which our current universe arose (“began” under the Kalam cosmological argument), that singularity was itself, the universe in a different form. That is to say, outside the singularity was a true nothing. The boundary of the singularity was the boundary of the universe. Outside of that, there was no outside, not even an outside where everyone had goatees. When it went bang, the singularity (everything) exploded, expanding rapidly, the everything that was the singularity became the everything that is the current universe.

    Therefore, everything gave rise to everything. Brandon’s statement that this must have required incredible power ignores that there was tremendous potential energy within the singularity. There is no need for that energy to have been released by an intelligent being, or any being at all, and no thought experiment like Kalam will cause such a being to begin to exist or always exist, or to suggest that it was outside of our space and time. It merely defines them into existence and assumes that nobody will object.

    All that is mere conjecture, because it infers what was there before 1 Planck, as well as it’s nature, in that there was a boundary to the singularity.

  69. buddyward says

    @retak I do not believe that there is a consensus claim that something significant happened prior to Planck time. I believe the consensus is that scientist does not know and cannot determine (yet) what happened prior and thus they are not making any claims about it.

  70. retak says

    @buddyward
    Something significant happening prior to the Planck time is baked directly into the definition of the Planck time. Let’s take a step back to explain this, because part of the problem is that there is conflation of meanings within the expression “Planck time.” It can mean both an instant or a duration depending on context.

    In physics in general the expression “Planck time” is a duration – roughly 10^(-43) seconds. We know our current model doesn’t apply on timescales shorter than this duration.

    In Big Bang cosmology the expression “Planck time” is used as a shortcut to refer to an instant – namely “the instant that is 10^(-43) seconds after…” … well, after what? The best definition would be something like “the instant that is 10^(-43) seconds after the singularity predicted by our current model.”

    And that’s where things get confusing. We know our current model doesn’t apply to timescales shorter than 10^(-43) seconds, so we take the point 10^(-43) seconds after the singularity our model predicts (the Planck time) and say we cannot conclude anything about what happens before that point. But if we cannot conclude anything then there could be no singularity 10^(-43) seconds before that point, and time could expand further in the past. But if time can expand in the past then we could be out of the 10^(-43) seconds timescale we used to justify discarding our model in the first place.

    That’s why using the Planck time as the cutoff point beyond which we cannot claim anything doesn’t make much sense to me.

  71. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @retak #78:

    Something significant happening prior to the Planck time is baked directly into the definition of the Planck time.
    […]
    In Big Bang cosmology the expression “Planck time” is used as a shortcut to refer to an instant

    The best definition would be something like “the instant that is 10^(-43) seconds after the singularity predicted by our current model.”
    […]
    if we cannot conclude anything then there could be no singularity 10^(-43) seconds before that point, and time could expand further in the past

    How about: The duration between the most distant moment known physics is confidently applicable and adding [what in most other circumstances would be the smallest meaningful unit of time] farther back, regardless of the state at that point.
     
    The ‘event’ preceeding the known universe is a landmark arbitrarily defined by limited understanding at the present, and framing the planck era the other way ’round, as distance FROM that landmark, is a narrative convenience as we drift away at one second per second. The singularity isn’t itself a real event of significance. That’s just when physics is definitely broken, one planck too far.
     
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Planck Time

    first suggested by Max Planck in 1899. He suggested that there existed some fundamental natural units for length, mass, time and energy. Planck derived these using dimensional analysis only using what he considered the most fundamental universal constants: the speed of light, the Newton gravitational constant and the Planck constant. The Planck time is by many physicists considered to be the shortest possible measurable time interval; however, this is still a matter of debate.
    […]
    Because the Planck time comes from dimensional analysis, which ignores constant factors, there is no reason to believe that exactly one unit of Planck time has any special physical significance. Rather, the Planck time represents a rough time scale at which quantum gravitational effects are likely to become important. This essentially means that whilst smaller units of time can exist, they are so small their effect on our existence is negligible. The nature of those effects, and the exact time scale at which they would occur, would need to be derived from an actual theory of quantum gravity.

     
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Planck Units, Cosmology

    the Planck epoch or Planck era is the earliest stage of the Big Bang, before the time passed was equal to the Planck time, tP, or approximately 10−43 seconds. There is no currently available physical theory to describe such short times, and it is not clear in what sense the concept of time is meaningful for values smaller than the Planck time. It is generally assumed that quantum effects of gravity dominate physical interactions at this time scale. At this scale, the unified force of the Standard Model is assumed to be unified with gravitation. Inconceivably hot and dense

     
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Chronology of the Universe, Very Early Universe

    The Planck epoch is an era in traditional (non-inflationary) big bang cosmology immediately after the event which began our known universe. During this epoch, the temperature and average energies within the universe were so inconceivably high compared to any temperature we can observe today, that everyday subatomic particles could not form, and even the four fundamental forces that shape our universe—electromagnetism, gravitation, weak nuclear interaction, and strong nuclear interaction—were combined and formed one fundamental force. Little is understood about physics at this temperature; different hypotheses propose different scenarios. Traditional big bang cosmology predicts a gravitational singularity before this time, but this theory relies on the theory of general relativity, which is thought to break down for this epoch due to quantum effects.
     
    In inflationary models of cosmology, times before the end of inflation (roughly 10−32 second after the Big Bang) do not follow the same timeline as in traditional big bang cosmology. Models that aim to describe the universe and physics during the Planck epoch are generally speculative and fall under the umbrella of “New Physics”.

  72. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    is baked directly into the definition of the Planck time

    The planck time can be defined in this way: The smallest such time interval that any real measuring device can accurately measure, because trying to measure a smaller interval of time requires putting sufficient energy into a small enough region of space that it will create a black hole.

  73. Robink says

    Yet another caller who is happy to go along with the prevailing concensus of experts until the moment the concensus deviates from the preferred pet theory of the caller in which case suddenly they become irrelevant. We see this a lot with the historicity of Jesus arguments but it’s equally popular with theists who rest on physics arguments to persuade people to agree with their shoddy premises and the end up saying it’s not a physics argument at all but a philosophical one LOL.

    I agree with whoever said the easiest way to counter Kalaam is to simply go along with it. Yep, I agree this universe probably had a cause to the best of my limited layman understanding… and?

  74. Lamont Cranston says

    EnlightenmentLiberal says #71:

    That is, mass might be changed to some other mass along with a loss of energy. Alternatively mass might be changed to some other mass along with a gain of energy.

    Every particle with mass has an equivalent energy (E=mCsquared).

    Minor nit of mine. You may know what you mean, but at face value this is technically incorrect, and it’s incorrect in an extremely fundamental way. It’s a common mistake / misunderstanding, and it’s subtle, but important. You wrote as if mass can be converted into energy, or vice versa. This is incorrect. In the context of general relativity, this is actually into not-even-wrong territory. Mass is never converted into energy, and energy is never converted into mass.

    Agreed. I should endeavor to be more precise in my explanations.

    For those who want a more thorough explanation you can refer to a variety of papers, but here is just one example… https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/equivME/

    In this regard I find particle/anti-partical annihilation interesting. It looks like mass gets converted to energy although I realize the energy itself has mass that I assume is equal to the mass of the original particles. So technically mass does not get destroyed. However the mass associated with the particle/anti-particles does disappear (in a sense) and you are left only with the mass associated with the energy produced in the annihilation. In the same way the energy did not get created but prior to the collision it was bound up in the particle and anti-particle and was simply released in the annihilation?

    Another way of looking at all of this is that at 1 Planck Time The entire mass of the universe was energy and that some time betwen 10e-43 seconds and 10e-36 seconds some of that mass began a transition (condensation?) into actual matter that had mass. Also the sum total of all energy and all mass in the universe is the same today as it was at 1 Planck Time. The difference is that some of the energy and mass is now bound up in matter. Is that a fair way of putting it?

    I guess Lange kind of took the other way of looking at it and said that the only thing that really exists is mass. I guess that means that energy at 1 Planck Time was the only way of cramming that much mass in that small space.

    With regard to the Planck Time limit, this is tied to the Planck Length which is the the scale at which classical ideas about gravity and space-time cease to be valid, and quantum effects dominate. this is the smallest measurement of length with any meaning (approximately 1.6 x 10e-35 m).

    The Planck Time is the time it would take a photon traveling at the speed of light to across a distance equal to the Planck Length. So, as we understand physics at this time we can say only that the universe came into existence when it already had an age of 10e-43 seconds. With regard to what happened before that the real answer is, “I don’t know.” Kind of the same answer you would get if you asked what happens inside of a singularity.

    Now back to the Kalam waste of time argument. 🙂

    Lamont Cranston

  75. buddyward says

    @retak

    If I am not mistaken the age of the universe is calculated based on the size of the universe and the rate in which it is expanding. The Big Bang cosmology posits that there was a rapid expansion some 13 billion years ago. The Planck time mentioned here is based on when that rapid expansion began. From time 0 to 10^(44) we cannot determine what had happened because we are not capable of making any sort of measurements. I don’t really think that it is relevant what is there at time 0 (be it a singularity or whatever other explanations scientists have hypothesized) only that at time 0 the rapid expansion began.

  76. says

    Regarding Antonio,

    its simple.

    Q: “What convinced you that God doesn’t exist”
    A: “Nothing did. That ‘a God exists’ is a claim and it hasn’t got evidence”

    Regarding “the christian god”, it has a definition, a set of claims. If they don’t pass muster then that definition falls apart. Maybe some other god exists but that does not support that particular definition.

  77. jacobfromlost says

    Re Brandon (if I’m repeating what someone else already said, sorry). The last I heard from physics is that the total energy of the universe is zero, in that gravity exactly balances with matter/energy. Therefore the “cause” of the universe is not powerful or weak. It is literally nothing in terms of what is in the universe NOW (ie, the universe wasn’t “caused” by something akin to what is IN the universe now…and “cause” would not be the proper word anyway, as you need time to have causes).

    All this seems moot to me anyway because if you take the idea of a god seriously, if falls apart immediately when considering the real world around us. If there were an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, perfect, personal, creator-god, he/she/it would have to exist in some way with things we all agree exist in the universe now. If we agree there are things that exist that aren’t perfect, you can’t have a perfect creator god creating them, as then he would not be perfect (you can’t have him CAUSING imperfection in any way, including by creating beings who choose imperfection, as the “cause” would still be the creator god). Moreover, you can’t have an omnibenevolent god creating or causing anything that is or leads to evil in any way, so if evil exists, the omnibenevolent creator god doesn’t exist. And if an omniscient god knew this all ahead of time, but did it anyway, we just add one more fatal contradiction that makes no sense. And the “personal” thing just becomes totally irrelevant, as you could have a personal god who is none of the other things and call him “my neighbor Joe.” Religious mythologies work better if you don’t think about them very much and “suspend your belief” as with any fiction. But at least the mythologies that include gods who are not perfect, or gods who show up on the scene where something already exists in some way (ie chaos, etc), have the excuse of saying god is creating things out of chaos, so the imperfections and the evil can be explained away that way. But when you say your perfect creator god IS THE CAUSE OF EVERYTHING, you’ve just destroyed any argument for his existence as soon as you see imperfection in the world. (And I know they explain it away by saying god gave humans free will, we’re after the fall, bla bla bla, but a perfect god by definition cannot lead to imperfect things in anyway, because he would then by definition be imperfect.)

  78. Dont Panic says

    (SueDoeNimm3) Saw your link and really liked your summation in the video on the best direction we can choose to learn the answers to these cosmic questions. I especially liked your thought on what if before the Planck Epoch there were a STABLE singularity just waiting for the right conditions for the Big Bang. Hadn’t heard that one.

    To solve the infinite past dilemma and the paradoxes with the beginning of time, I wonder if we’re not just witnessing an eternal universe. I know scientists have pretty much ruled out that the acceleration of the expanding universe is likely going to stop, but what if it did? What if something cosmic or something natural that we haven’t thought of yet causes it to do just that– slow down and stop? What if the universe then begins to contract due to huge gravitational forces? Then, it might contract back down to another singularity and another big bang to continue the process. Think it’s called the Big Crunch, right?

    If that’s possible, then the universe could be considered eternal, in full support of the Second Law of Thermodynamics where matter is neither created nor destroyed.

    Since we can’t see any further than our observable universe, maybe there’s a wall or force of some kind that our expanding universe will bounce off of, once it expands to a certain point, causing the Big Crunch. Can we really assume absolutely nothing’s there? I’ve always thought the universe has got to be expanding into some other space. Maybe, we’re like an expanding balloon within a fishbowl. Once that outer force is reached, expansion reverses! Yee-haw!

    What do you think?

    Oh, well. I probably just don’t understand the concepts of time or infinity or what an expanding universe really is or means. People have told me so. I just can’t visualize the expanding universe the way they say to. I feel like Pooh Bear when they ask me to do that.

    Anyway, the idea the universe is an eternally contracting and expanding “lung” somehow comforts and makes sense to me. It doesn’t require causality. It fits with the Second Law, solves entropy and resolves the time paradoxes. Works for me.

    To prove it, though, I’m gonna have to live about another 15 billion more years.

    Don’t think I want to hang around that long. People’d start calling me a god or something and that’d get real annoying real fast…

  79. Dont Panic says

    I read a good post (by Patar) in the YouTube comments today regarding the contradiction inherent in the concept of Nothing and thought I’d expand on it a little. Whether we’re talking about a hypothetical or abstract or actual place in which Nothing exists, that it exists there negates it’s own definition– it exists, so it’s something.

    Now, we find ourselves in a land where Nothing is Something, which also means Something is now Nothing and thereby proving Nothing’s own definition as we come out the other side of this wormhole.

    When we utter either word now, it seems we actually mean and define its opposite. Utterly weird. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________
    I was in the kitchen a few minutes ago trying to mull all that utter nonsense over and somehow stumbled upon a definition for Nothingness that works for me:

    The opposite of any Something that occupies space is Nothing.
    It is devoid of not only matter and energy, but also of time and space–
    an absolute Void that doesn’t exist.

    It’s my perfect version of what Hell would be.

  80. brandon1from1australia says

    Hey guys, sorry for the late reply. In the middle of university exams. wow there are a lot of questions!

    Firstly to answer the common objections to premise one. I see people saying “its simply the rearrangement of existing matter”, “Nothing ever begins to exist”. This commits the fallacy of composition, Just because parts already existed does not imply that the object containing those parts has always existed or that it never began to exist. It’s like me arguing that because a atom is very light therefore a planet made of atoms is very light. Things have material causes (the parts) and efficient causes (eg. Me, causes motion to stop and start). This is not just a rearrangement or relabeling of existing matter. If you have all the parts to a chair. The chair does not exist yet but the moment you connect the last leg, the chair begins to exist. If you deny the first premise, you are basically saying that things can come into existence without a material cause or a efficient cause. Science has demonstrated that premise one is way more likely to be true than false. My question is, if you deny the first premise, you are saying that things can come into being from nothing(no material and efficient cause), something can not come from nothing. So can you give me an example of something coming into existence without a material cause and without a efficient cause?

    For people still stuck on this idea of nothing. asking me to prove nothing exists. Its a negation. You are basically saying asking, prove not anything can be something. Its just a silly question. Can a chair not be a chair?

    Lastly for those who are saying that causation can not happen without time and talking about a cause before the universe is just silly. This problem can be solved easily. Its called simultaneous causality. Which states that the cause and the effect happen simultaneously and this happens quite often. For example, think of a lead ball which is laid on a cushion and simultaneously causes the effect of an indention or “hollow” in the cushion. The effect occurs simultaneously with its cause. Logically, a cause can occur simultaneous with its effect.

    Those are some of the questions that where mostly asked. There where some other interesting questions, like about the problem of evil but there are so many question! haha I just don’t have the time to answer them all, there were about 80 of them. I appreciate the discussion though.

  81. RationalismRules says

    @Dont Panic (& others)
    There is no actual paradox/contradiction, there just seems to be because the term is being used incorrectly.

    Gabebodeen #50 has explained it well, as has wormlore #80.
    ‘Nothing’ isn’t an existent thing – it’s a state. A light switch has the states ‘on’ and ‘off’, yet neither of those states is an existent thing in itself. ‘Nothing’ is the state of no things existing.

    Brandon is trying to make this point when he says it’s a negation, but he’s not doing a good job of explaining it. Also, he was wrong when he responded to Tracie’s “can nothing exist?” with the answer “Yes”. The correct answer is no. Nothing doesn’t exist: it’s just a label for the absence of all existent things.

    Note that this does not invalidate Tracie’s larger point that there is no valid basis from which to conclude that “something cannot come from nothing”, as we have no experience of ‘nothing’. That is true.

    Brandon et al are taking the fact that we have no examples of something coming from nothing and attempting to declare it as a law, in order to rule it out as a possible origin of the universe. The true irony is that the exact same methodology also rules out their god, as we equally have no examples of a god creating something from nothing by magic. They never seem to notice that…

  82. Scotty says

    @brandon1from1australia, #93

    What do you mean by “material or efficient cause”? Can you give an example of something material that does not have a material cause?

  83. Monocle Smile says

    @brandon1from1australia

    For people still stuck on this idea of nothing. asking me to prove nothing exists. Its a negation. You are basically saying asking, prove not anything can be something. Its just a silly question. Can a chair not be a chair?

    No shit it’s a silly question. That’s the point. Existence appears to be a necessary attribute; a brute fact, if you will. You clearly don’t understand why this question was asked.

    Lastly for those who are saying that causation can not happen without time and talking about a cause before the universe is just silly. This problem can be solved easily. Its called simultaneous causality. Which states that the cause and the effect happen simultaneously and this happens quite often. For example, think of a lead ball which is laid on a cushion and simultaneously causes the effect of an indention or “hollow” in the cushion. The effect occurs simultaneously with its cause. Logically, a cause can occur simultaneous with its effect.

    This is simply wrong.
    When you put a ball on a cushion, the effect is not simultaneous. There is a delay when the force is applied. It merely seems to us that the effect is simultaneous.
    I glare at the use of Aristotelian terms when talking about physics.

    This is not just a rearrangement or relabeling of existing matter. If you have all the parts to a chair. The chair does not exist yet but the moment you connect the last leg, the chair begins to exist

    That is quite literally “just a rearrangement or relabeling of existing matter.” Your problem is that you think agency has some sort of special ontological status that defies physics. There’s no categorical difference between you putting a chair together and the parts of the chair falling off a cliff and forming a chair.

    If you deny the first premise, you are basically saying that things can come into existence without a material cause or a efficient cause. Science has demonstrated that premise one is way more likely to be true than false

    Doubletalk. This is appallingly dishonest. Look at the second premise. You’re complaining that the first premise applies to things in our universe, but then use the second premise to apply the first to the whole of the universe. You’re projecting the weakness of your argument onto us. Are you just having trouble comprehending or do you think we’re too stupid to notice?

  84. Scotty says

    @brandon1from1australia

    Expanding on my previous comment (#95):

    I misread your comment. You asked for an example of something coming into existence without a material cause and without an efficient cause. The example I give is a rock formed from a volcanic eruption. While the rock has material cause (volcano spews lava which hardens into a rock), there is no reason to believe that there is also an efficient cause (an agent is not required to make the rock). Furthermore, to claim that the creation of the rock must have an efficient cause turns the Kalam into a circular argument where the first premise assumes that there is an agent who causes all things and the conclusion is that there is an agent who causes all things.

    If everything has a material cause and a subset also may have an efficient cause we can’t assume that there is an efficient cause for unknown phenomena (like the beginning of the universe). Therefore the best that the Kalam can tell us is that the universe has a material cause. If you think the idea of the universe having a material cause seems ridiculous then you should abandon the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

  85. suedoenimm3 says

    @ brandon1from1australia, #93
    .
    >Hey guys, sorry for the late reply. In the middle of university exams.
    .
    You are not studying physics I gather.
    .
    >If you deny the first premise, you are basically saying that things can come into existence without a material cause or a efficient cause. Science has demonstrated that premise one is way more likely to be true than false.
    .
    Really? Can you cite references?
    .
    >So can you give me an example of something coming into existence without a material cause and without a efficient cause?
    .
    We’ve learned a thing or two since Aristotle’s time. Aristotle didn’t have knowledge of quantum mechanics when he was forming his ideas.
    .
    Radioactive decay and virtual particles have no ‘efficient cause’. They happen randomly. There is no way we can predict when any particular atom will decay.
    .
    >For example, think of a lead ball which is laid on a cushion and simultaneously causes the effect of an indention or “hollow” in the cushion. The effect occurs simultaneously with its cause.
    .
    Those things are simultaneous if you are using an egg timer to do the measuring.
    .
    Suppose I have a 1 meter long iron bar laying on a bench. I start pushing on one end of the bar. The other end doesn’t start moving until about 200 microseconds later.
    .
    .
    Here, I’ll hypothesize the NFC, the Natural First Cause. It might be something like LQG, string theory, or a “quantum void”. It has almost the same properties as your deific first cause. It is:
    -timeless
    -space-less
    -immensely powerful
    -but it has quantum uncertainty rather than a mind
    .
    How is your hypothesis right and mine wrong?
    .

  86. justinmurray says

    Hi,
    My name is Justin Murray. I am the humanist chaplain at the Canberra hospital and the Australian National University. As a humanist chaplain, I help people hold hope and give meaning to their lives in difficult situations. We have been available to serve the community for more than 25 years. We are affiliated with Canberra Humanists and have full accreditation.Canberra Humanists also have community outreach companions. Please contact us if you want or need anything.
    Justin.

  87. nude0007 says

    @ brandon1from1australia, #93
    1. it is NOT a given that everything has a cause. WE don’t have to prove something didn’t have a cause, because it is NOT proven everything does. YOU have to prove YOUR claim FIRST.
    2. It is not established that at first there was “nothing”. In fact, the opposite is established. The universe EXISTED in a different form, then exploded/expanded. it existed before the current form we know. IT wasn’t “created”
    3. As John said, whatever “caused” the universe to expand/explode/change state doesn’t have to be all powerful. it could be “the straw that broke the camels back” situation.
    4. NOTHING indicates an intellect existing “outside” time and space, not that anything outside time and space does anything to time and space.
    YOU are making a lot of assumptions that are either not true or even contradicted by science already, as John said. That’s why your argument fails on so many levels.

  88. brandon1from1australia says

    @Monocle Smile I will reply to your comment.

    “No shit it’s a silly question. That’s the point. Existence appears to be a necessary attribute; a brute fact, if you will. You clearly don’t understand why this question was asked.”

    How does it appear to be so? Is your existence necessary? What if your parents died in a car crash before you were born? How is it necessary that something must exist? How is the possibility of nothing(not anything), logically impossible?

    “When you put a ball on a cushion, the effect is not simultaneous. There is a delay when the force is applied. It merely seems to us that the effect is simultaneous.”

    There is not a delay. the moment first atom of the ball touches the first atom of the cushion it causes it to move. Do you think that atom waits, and when it decides, then it moves? what happens while it waits? Some philosophers argue that all efficient causation is simultaneous, for if the causal conditions sufficient for some event E were present prior to the time t of E‘s occurrence, then E would happen prior to t. My question is what is the problem or logical inconsistency with saying that the cause of the origin of the universe acted simultaneously with the origination of the universe? If God created the universe, what is incoherent with saying that at t equals zero, God creates the universe and that is the moment that the universe begins?

    “That is quite literally “just a rearrangement or relabeling of existing matter.” Your problem is that you think agency has some sort of special ontological status that defies physics. There’s no categorical difference between you putting a chair together and the parts of the chair falling off a cliff and forming a chair.”

    Its not a rearrangement or relabeling of existing matter. Are you just a relabeling of atoms? Can a atom breath? No, there is a difference here, its not just a relabeling. Again, This commits the fallacy of composition. Just because parts already existed does not imply that the object containing those parts has always existed or that it never began to exist. It’s like me arguing that because a atom is very light therefore a planet made of atoms is very light. “There’s no categorical difference …” in both cases the chair begins to exist and the difference is that they have different causes.

    “Doubletalk. This is appallingly dishonest.”

    How is it dishonest? The first premise states “whatever begins to exist has a cause”. If you deny that you are saying that something can begin to exist without a cause. That is, it can begin to exist out of nothing. No material cause and no efficient cause. If you deny that premise, that is what you are saying. If you say it is false then you affirm the negation of it.

    “Look at the second premise. You’re complaining that the first premise applies to things in our universe, but then use the second premise to apply the first to the whole of the universe. You’re projecting the weakness of your argument onto us. Are you just having trouble comprehending or do you think we’re too stupid to notice?”

    I am not saying “that the first premise applies to things in our universe”, the premise is “Whatever begins to exist has a cause” not “things in our universe have a cause”. Whether its in our universe or the universe or outside the universe, if it begins to exist it must have a cause and can not pop into existence without a cause (out of nothing).

  89. Monocle Smile says

    @brandon

    How does it appear to be so? Is your existence necessary? What if your parents died in a car crash before you were born? How is it necessary that something must exist? How is the possibility of nothing(not anything), logically impossible?

    Existence appears to be a necessary state. I don’t know why this is controversial.

    There is not a delay. the moment first atom of the ball touches the first atom of the cushion it causes it to move

    Its not a rearrangement or relabeling of existing matter. Are you just a relabeling of atoms? Can a atom breath? No, there is a difference here, its not just a relabeling

    How is it dishonest? The first premise states “whatever begins to exist has a cause”. If you deny that you are saying that something can begin to exist without a cause

    Bullshit like those quotes demonstrate that you are pig ignorant of both physics and logic to the point where you’re not ready to even have this discussion.

    Are you just a relabeling of atoms?

    Yes. I am a relabeling of a specific arrangement of matter. While that arrangement changes over time, it retains enough of its identity from one moment to the next to retain the label. This is effectively a settled matter and it’s truly baffling that you don’t understand this. Your understanding of the world is radically impoverished and you need to learn so much more before you even begin to engage with us again.

  90. RationalismRules says

    @brandon

    Whether its in our universe or the universe or outside the universe, if it begins to exist it must have a cause and can not pop into existence without a cause (out of nothing).

    Why do you assume that the laws that operate inside our universe also operate outside it? How could you possibly have any knowledge at all about the conditions or laws that operate outside/prior to our universe?

    This point alone kills Kalam, without even needing to consider its many other failures.

  91. indianajones says

    @Brandon. ‘There is not a delay’ Yes, there is. The absolute fastest that a force applied to one side of an atom can be detectable on the other side of it is the speed of light in a vacuum, ie how long it would take light travelling in a vacuum to travel the distance of one atom diameter. SOL as an absolute has withstood every test ever since we’ve been able to measure it in a meaningful fashion. Galileo, if not before. If you can break that, then a Nobel prize awaits you. Also time travel and instant trillionairredom. Probably.

  92. suedoenimm3 says

    “If God created the universe, what is incoherent with saying that at t equals zero, God creates the universe and that is the moment that the universe begins?”
    .
    If you ad hoc an invisible supernatural God there is no end to the supernatural properties you can give him.
    .
    “I am not saying “that the first premise applies to things in our universe”, the premise is “Whatever begins to exist has a cause” not “things in our universe have a cause”. Whether its in our universe or the universe or outside the universe, if it begins to exist it must have a cause and can not pop into existence without a cause (out of nothing).”
    .
    Why can’t the uncaused first cause be the timeless, spaceless, powerful, and stochastic (not personal) laws of nature/quantum void?
    .

  93. Monocle Smile says

    @brandon
    I want to revisit this:

    There is not a delay. the moment first atom of the ball touches the first atom of the cushion it causes it to move

    This is so very obviously wrong. If you were correct, then I could create an iron bar that stretches from myself in California all the way to India. I could then tap on this bar and my friend in India could detect the taps instantly. This would mean that communication through a medium could travel faster than light through a vacuum. That’s literally the logical conclusion of your assertion. Do you see how wrong you are? Must I also rip apart the rest of the nonsense you posted?

  94. wintersscoop says

    I recall Lawrence Krauss, on a panel that included Neil deGrasse Tyson, once said that particles do come into existence and out of existence without a cause all the time. Nature abhors a vacuum. “Nothing” is an ultimate vacuum. If there ever was Nothing, Something would happen to fix that.

  95. RationalismRules says

    @wintersscoop #107

    Nature abhors a vacuum. “Nothing” is an ultimate vacuum. If there ever was Nothing, Something would happen to fix that.

    That doesn’t work as an argument. The only examples we have are of existent things moving into a vacuum, not of things coming into existence in order to ‘fix’ a vacuum.

  96. RationalismRules says

    @winterscoop
    I’m aware that Krauss is working on the ‘something from nothing’ paradigm. I’m also aware that he talks about needing to re-examine our idea of ‘nothing’ – that he doesn’t adhere to ‘nothing’ as the absolute absence of every thing.

    Are you saying he actually made the ‘nature abhors a vacuum’ argument?

  97. wintersscoop says

    @RationalismRules No, that was me being simplistic trying to explain what he was talking about.

  98. RationalismRules says

    @wintersscoop
    Fair enough. As I understand it, ‘nature abhors a vacuum’ is actually about pressure equalizing, which is why it’s not really a good argument for things coming into existence in a state of absolute vacuum-ness. 🙂

    You’ve piqued my interest, though, as to Krauss arguing some sort of inevitability for the origin of matter. Think I’ll track down that video.

  99. Mohammed says

    @brandon1from1australia
    Hello Brandon.
    I have listened to your call on the show, but haven’t read your comments here.
    I have disastrously called the show multiple times. I am not articulate when I am on the phone. I so encourage you to read this and then call the show on my behalf if you find it useful!

    I understood that you believe that the universe began to exist, and must therefore have a cause. However, I wish to point out to you a few important things.
    The first is that the common scientific definition which you adopt is a meaningless one. The universe ought not to be thought of as the totality of space, time and matter. This is for two main reasons:
    Firstly, matter does not exist externally in a universal sense or as a genus. All what exists externally of the matter is the particular things at this moment. Nothing at all exists beyond the particulars at this moment. In other words, this particular material thing we call a tree, and that particular material object we call earth, is what exists of the matter. I hope you see this as self-evident.
    Secondly, the space-time continuum is an imagined construct. All what exists in the external world are the particulars: that is, particular objects and their properties. Yes, space may be said to exist as a particular property of how spacious a given object is, and time may be said to exist as a particular property of motion, or its measure of motion. But this is not what physicists today mean by space and time. Scientists define them as the continuum itself. That continuum, however, is no more than a mental construct that helps visualize when and where material objects are and will be with respect to one another.

    I stress that space and time, strictly as properties, exist inseparably from the material objects in question. And so their existence is included in the existence of the particulars. It therefore suffices to say that the universe is the sum of particulars. There is no need to add space and time into the definition.
    This is why I encourage you to use the traditional definition of the universe, which is: “the sum of existing particulars, at a given moment, besides God.”

    Another important point here is that it does not at all contradict reason to say that God is a tremendous being above His creation, a being who continuously acts on the world one time after another. In fact, I believe you are mistaken in your claim that God is spaceless and timeless, and you will find nothing in your scriptures that indicates that God is spaceless and timeless. I hope you see that, if God exists non-spatially or timelessly, He would in fact be nonexistent.
    Space exists only as a particular property of a particular object. How spacious or tremendous God is is a property of His existence. It is not something external to Him. Rather, it is of God’s existence. The same is said about His actions and their durations. It is not something separate from God, but is included in what we mean when we say: God.

    Properties cannot possibly exist separate from the objects they describe. A person’s knowledge, for example, is a property of the person and may not exist separately. The same goes with all other properties. They subsist in the “spatio-temporal” objects they describe.

    Another important point is that it does not at all contradict reason to say that God is the only eternal being and yet has always been creating one material thing after another. This is because nothing of the matter exists beyond the particulars at a given moment for some observer. Even if God had always been creating one material world after another, this world and every other one would still be with beginning and would still indicate an eternally existing Creator. That Creator would exist before each one of those worlds is brought into existence and will exist after it is long gone. Indeed, God exists as an eternal Creator who brings particular created things into existence.

    This brings me to the final point. Because the universe is correctly understood only as a sum of its particulars, if those particulars are known with certainty to begin to exist, this particular universe would be known to begin to exist just as well. So the real question is not whether or not the universe began to exist in the distant past. Instead, all will boil down to the following basic questions: Do things around us begin to exist? Do we begin to exist? Do trees begin to exist?

    I believe that this is the case, and I have time and again tried to explain this intuitive understanding. We were created by God in stages out of despised fluid. A tree is created out of the earth. Fire is created out of wood. One thing totally changes into another.
    We were not created ex nihilo, and we have never observed anything created as such. Nonetheless, we were created after we were totally non-existent in place of other things that totally ceased to exist.
    This is indeed the creative power of God, to create one thing in place of another He causes to totally perish. And this is the intuitive understanding we have lost. In other words, God placed in us a recognition of His sovereignty through the appreciation of the PARTICULAR signs which He creates out of others.
    Please see this video, because it clarifies that the particular components of matter are not only subject to rearrangement, but are also subject to totally perish.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYVZFbI2v-0

    The whole idea I want you to take from this is that we are more indicative of God that the distant past of the universe, and that we should appreciate God’s existence simply through the observation of particulars.

    I am a Muslim. I believe that God is the Creator of everything, including Jesus and his pure mother. I believe that Jesus was part of God’s creation. And the evidence for that is in the fact that he needed food and drink. God is the Self-sufficient Lord who needs nothing for His existence.

    I hope you find this beneficial.

  100. Monocle Smile says

    Hey look, more silly bullshit from Mohammed.

    This is why you are not worth engaging. Most of that screed was corrected more than once in your last foray into this space, and yet you have learned absolutely nothing. You were shown to be wrong time and time again, and yet you continue to repeat total nonsense like “the space-time continuum is an imagined construct.” What’s the point of discussing anything with someone who avoids learning at all costs?

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