The Kalam Cosmological Argument

The arguments root is in second century Alexandrian philosopher and Church Father named John Philoponus, who realised the Greek philosophy of his day was contrary to the Christian doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. Preserved and developed in Islamic tradition where it gained its current name, it eventually re-entered Christian philosophical thought by being championed by Bonaventure (1221-1274). A contemporary of Aquinas, they wrote back and forth with each other on the soundness of this argument.

When Dr. William Lane Craig published his book The Kalam Cosmological Argument in 1979 it was not a great success. Only a few hundred copies sold. Since then the argument has grown in popularity so now it is fair to say occupies the one of the central plinths in the halls of philosophy of religion. The argument has helped to revitalise the study of natural theology and, I think, is one of the most powerful arguments for God’s existence.

Quentin Smith, the atheistic professor of philosophy from Western Michigan University states;

… a count of the articles in the philosophy journals shows that more articles have been published about Craig’s defense of the Kalam argument than have been published about any other philosopher’s contemporary formulation of an argument for God’s existence … The fact that theists and atheists alike “cannot leave Craig’s Kalam argument alone” suggests that it may be an argument of unusual philosophical interest or else has an attractive core of plausibility that keeps philosophers turning back to it and examining it once again.

The arguments simplicity belies its powerful effectiveness. It is a simple syllogism that is logically air-tight. If therefore you do not like the conclusion, one of its premises need to be denied. 

 

1) Everything that begins to exist had a cause

2) The universe began to exist

3) The universe had a cause

 

I will now outline the argument as it is defended by William Lane Craig. 

 

1) Everything that begins to exist had a cause

 – Based on the principle nothing comes from nothing

 – Empirically verified and never falsified

 – Wholly plausible from experience and at least more likely than its contradictory 

 – Intuitively true, for we don’t believe things just ‘pop’ into existence.

 

2)  The universe began to exist

This second premise means this is the only cosmological argument committed to a particular cosmology. Fortunately it receives wide spread acceptance. Craig offers two philosophical proofs and two scientific proofs. 

First Philosophical proof for the beginning of the universe

 – The impossibility of an actual infinite set of things.

1) An actual infinite cannot exist

2) A beginningless temporal sequence of events is an actual infinite

3) Therefore, a beginningless temporal series of events of events cannot exist.

 

The truth of premise one is evident when you consider the absurdities that would result if an actual infinite did exist. 

Set A has all the natural number from 1 to infinity. {1, 2, 3, 4, . . . }

Set B has all the even numbers from 2 to infinity. {2, 4, 6, 8, . . . }

Therefore A has half the amount of numbers than B. At the same time they are both infinite. In fact, we could half B so it contains only every second even number (so the set would be only a 1/4 of the size of A) and it will still be infinite (just like A). So infinity – infinity = infinity. But obviously that’s absurd.

Similar examples abound like that of Hilbert’s Hotel. But perhaps your not convinced on this argument for the beginning of the universe. The following philosophical proof is totally separate and distinct. 

 

Second Philosophical proof for the beginning of the universe

– The impossibility of traversing an actual infinite.

1) It is impossible to traverse an actual infinite by successive addition.

2) The temporal series of past events has been formed by successive addition.

3) Therefore, it cannot be actually infinite. 

 

Again you can see the absurdities that would result is you could traverse an actual infinite

 – Jumping out of a bottomless pit.

If you could get a foothold by finding the bottom the universe had a beginning, but if you reach the top you haven’t traversed an infinite. 

Again similar examples abound, like that of the orbital periods of Jupiter and Saturn as pointed out by al-Ghazali.

 

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First Scientific evidence for the beginning of the universe.

   – The second law of thermodynamics

The second law states that entropy in closed systems increases with time. Put another way the energy in closed systems is moving toward equilibrium. For instance, a hot cup of tea on a desk will grow colder if left alone. As the energy disperses throughout the room there eventually comes a point when both the room and the tea are the same temperature. We observe the universe with pockets of energy. If the universe was eternal then suns would have burnt out and the planets stopped spinning, etc. 

 

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Second Scientific evidence for the beginning of the universe.

   – Big Bang cosmology

I wont get into the science here, but only give three quotes from leading scientists. 

Stephen Hawking says,

Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang.1

John Barrow and Frank Tipler emphasise,

At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the Universe originated at such a singularity, we would truly have a creation ex nihilo.2

Alexander Vilenkin says,

“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.”3

 

3) Therefore, the universe had a cause

What does this argument prove? There must have been a cause of the beginning of the universe, we can look at the universe and deduce the attributes of this first cause. 

non-spacial

a-temportal

Changeless

Immaterial

Beginningless or uncaused

Necessary

– tremendously powerful (omnipotent?)

– Ockham’s Razor implies there would be only one cause of the universe.

– Finally and strikingly the cause of the universe must be personal.

 

This is no ill-conceived “Sugar-Plum Fairy” or “Flying Spaghetti Monster” but an ultra-mundane being that carries much of the attributes of the traditional concept of God.

Isn’t it fascinating that the psalmist wrote “The heaven’s declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of His hands.”4

 

Footnotes:

1. Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature of Space and Time, The Isaac Newton Institute Series of Lectures (Princeton, N. J.:  Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 20.

2. John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Clarendon, 1986), p. 442.

3. Alexander Vilenkin, Many Worlds in One (New York: Hill and Wang, 2006), p. 176.

4. Psalms 19:1

81 replies
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  1. Ken
    Ken says:

    Damian – another go at explaining this. I think part of the problem of understanding what came before .. is that it is very hard to understand by looking backwards. Perhaps we should look forward. Part of the problem is that we are within the space-time of our universe. It’s like the inhabitants of a universe which is limited to the surface of the earth – not aware of anything outside that surface. They can travel northwards (say) but will reach a point where they can go no further. They cannot envisage anything beyond that point.

    Current inflationary big bang theory can explain the formation of our universe – as in Vilenkin’s summary: “The picture that emerged from this line of development that a small closed universe can spontaneously nucleate out of nothing, where by ‘nothing’ I mean a state with no classical space and time.” Inflation proves to be important as it explains the formation of matter and radiation – the old “standard” big bang model didn’t.

    Now that summary raises the possibility of the formation of new universes – starting from empty space within ours – by the same mechanism. We only have our own universe to learn from – but having produced an explanatory theory we are now aware that this could also explain “daughter” universes.

    These daughter universes have their own space-time – inhabitants would have trouble envisaging what happened before their big bang.

    These “daughter” universes may well spawn “granddaughter” universes and so on. Once we realise that we also realise that our universe may also be one of a long chain – perhaps extending eternally – but obviously not in our space-time.

    I blow hot and cold on these possibilities. It seems so wasteful (but then again one thing we have learned in the last century is that the universe is much bigger than we could ever have contemplated). Then what conditions are required for the “empty space” capable of spontaneously nucleating a new universe to arise. Perhaps those conditions arise easily – or perhaps only in a very ancient universe after black holes irradiate all their mass (Penrose seems to suggest this). Carroll talks about empty space with non-zero vacuum energy settling into a “de Sitter configuration” which can produce a “proto-inflationary” patch.

    The usual concept is that we could never communicate, or gain information from, such other universes – so there would be no possibility of validation which is extremely unsatisfactory for science. However, Roger Penrose – in his lecture last October – raised the possibility of seeing evidence for a past universe in the background microwave radiation of our universe. He described tantalising evidence which could confirm this (although he was remaining open-minded because he felt more interpretation of the data was required). Somewhere I have seen other cosmologists describe this evidence as more definite.

    I am completely open-minded on these possibilities – I have no ideological or philosophical barrow to push (except the insistence on being guided by reality). However, I find the the evidence given by Penrose fascinating because it does challenge the idea that such ideas cannot be tested. I think there has been a similar suggestion of evidence of the effect of a sibling universe on our universe. I’m always sceptical of claims that there are ideas or theories which can never be tested. Never is an extremely long time and humanity is not good at making predictions.

  2. Damian
    Damian says:

    Cheers Ken. I printed off and read the Penrose paper last night but have not had the opportunity to watch the video you linked to yet.

    Here are my uneducated and rather muddled thoughts on the problem of our universe, time and causality:

    I think of the “universe” as the whole system. I can accept that we might be in a bubble that we think is the whole universe though. I think of “time” as a measure of things changing. Of preceding (is that circular?) but not necessarily causing. If all that we are physically able to observe is part of a bigger system then I struggle to see how “time” can have come into being in our bubble because there surely would have been things that preceded us in the overall system.

    Time may well be merely an analogy we use in our imperfect vocabulary and understanding of the world around us and so I’m prepared for the mechanisms of time/cause/effect (and even space?) to be vastly different in “reality” to what we are capable of comprehending. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that our vocabulary and, hence, our comprehension, is ill-suited to understanding the concept.

    Thoughts?

    As an aside (and I realise that this isn’t necessarily the place for it) I suspect that fine-tuning arguments are based on the likely false assumption that properties of the universe can be adjusted like a giant control panel. We use a number to represent absolute zero but in reality it’s just the point at which atomic movement stops. The numbers we apply make us think that this physical property is negotiable but I don’t see how that follows. It seems likely the same applies for the “mass” (i.e. a number we’ve applied) of the hydrogen atom and so on and so on.

  3. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    If you think of time as a physical property of the universe (which it is), then the difficulties evaporate. Saying time began is problematic, just as it is saying prior universes, but saying time came into being is not. Its the later that is meant in any model requiring a singularity, which is the standard model affirms.

    I recommend you goto either Rern Blanchard Edwards, What Caused the Big Bang (Amsterdam/New York, NY; Rodopi, 2001) p. 109-112 , or check out William Lane Craig himself as he is a world renowned philosopher of time.

    Lets not get side-tracked by a design argument, and keep the comments to the cosmological argument. :-)

  4. Damian
    Damian says:

    Cheers Stuart.

    If you think of time as a physical property of the universe (which it is)…

    I’m unconvinced. Not that it takes anything away from any argument you are making but that I have deep suspicions that our concept of time is an analogy and that to assume it’s as basic as a physical property might be an assumption too far. I’m not saying you are wrong, just that I’m going to have to read up a lot more before I can agree fully with that statement.

    Thanks for the book recommendations.

    A little while ago after attending one of Craig’s debates I wrote my thoughts on infinity and his cosmological argument. I was particularly amused with his jump from “the universe exists” to “a mind made it”.

    I think the biggest problem, though, is with his first premise: 1. Everything that begins to exist had a cause. This would seem perfectly logical from our experience but if time began then it is surely impossible for it to have had a “cause” because that “cause” would extend “time” back and so on and so on. What do you think?

  5. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    I think the biggest problem, though, is with his first premise: 1. Everything that begins to exist had a cause. This would seem perfectly logical from our experience but if time began then it is surely impossible for it to have had a “cause” because that “cause” would extend “time” back and so on and so on. What do you think?

    It would be a valid criticism were it not for simultaneous causation. The study of causation is linked with time, but not intrinsically. We have event/event causation – like a brick striking a window pane – which necessitates time, we have a state/state causation – like the water surface tension is the cause of wood’s floating – which does not necessitate time, and in the beginning of the universe we have an odd sort of state/event causation – where the cause is a timeless state, but the effect is an event a finite time ago.

    This type of causation is called “agent causation,” which strongly suggests the existence of a personal agent who freely chooses to cause the effect. For instance a man sitting on a chair from eternity can freely choose to stand – from a state of affairs he causes an effect. By “choose” I mean he freely intends from eternity.

  6. Ken
    Ken says:

    Damian – according to Einsteinian relativity time and space can’t be separated. We now talk about space-time. This should indicate that time is specific to the particular bubble (although Penrose throws a spanner in the works by claiming that time does not exist before matter). I guess we can say that if our universe arose spontaneously in the empty space of a pre-universe – that pre-universe existed before ours but would not be shown in the time of our universe which started with its own big bang.

    So, I imagine that we could say the cause of our universe occurred before the big bang in the space of the pre-universe. So we don’t see the cause in the time of our universe.

    I agree our “common sense” understanding of time is just not up to the job. It’s hard enough understanding Einsteinium space-time in our universe, let alone considering sequential universes. I imagine the mathematics can handle it though.

    Fine tuning does come into this as it could influence the values of the physical constants of specific universes. I think that both the “design” merchants and the “irreligious” chance advocates start with assumption of the values of these constants arising by chance – the design advocates then have their god sitting at a control panel to shift the values in the required direction.

    I personally feel, like you, that the values of (at least many if not most) these constants could not take on other values. Barrow goes for a mix of inherent values and values taken from a statistical range. Whatever, I think the real problem for science is understanding why the physical constants have the values they do have. It is lazy to assume these arose by chance and then postulate a multiverse or designer to explain the actual values.

    I believe the fine-tuning argument is very much overblown. Advocates of design, particularly, like to go for big numbers simply because of confirmation bias. I think this leads to them sometimes misrepresenting or distorting scientific knowledge in this area (the cosmological constant stands out here).

  7. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Ken, design issues such as fine-tuning are relevant in a completely separate argument. Not here. Please restrict your comments to the argument or refutations of it.

    I guess we can say that if our universe arose spontaneously in the empty space of a pre-universe – that pre-universe existed before ours but would not be shown in the time of our universe which started with its own big bang.
    So, I imagine that we could say the cause of our universe occurred before the big bang in the space of the pre-universe. So we don’t see the cause in the time of our universe.

    Ken, you also need to read Rern Blanchard Edwards, What Caused the Big Bang as your ontology is completely skewed. See pages 109-112 especially.

  8. Damian
    Damian says:

    Ahhhh, I see where this is going. When I ask “well, what caused this ‘personal agent’?” (aka The Big Guy) you are going to say He is eternal and therefore needs no cause. My objection to this would be that the scenario that, say, energy is eternal and that the Big Bang event where energy became mass is a far simpler proposition.

    At least we have some kind of evidence of quantum fluctuations that don’t appear to be causal rather than having to propose a being with intent and experience and so on. And I can assert with equal confidence that “1. All agents are caused” to match Craig’s first proposition. If there is room to question this proposition then there is equal room for questioning Craig’s first.

    If you want to alter my first proposition to “1. All agents are caused except for God” then it is equally valid for me to alter Craig’s first proposition to “1. Everything that begins to exist had a cause except for the universe” and mine would be a simpler exception because all I’m invoking is a point of energy whereas yours is a being with thoughts and intentions that somehow exist outside of time yet can make choices, etc.

    Does this make sense?

  9. Bnonn
    Bnonn says:

    Hey Damian.

    A little while ago after attending one of Craig’s debates I wrote my thoughts on infinity and his cosmological argument. I was particularly amused with his jump from “the universe exists” to “a mind made it”.

    I think you’re being too flippant about his argument, to be honest. Remembering the distinction we’ve drawn with Ken between the local universe, and the “cosmos”—namely, any (possibly prior) state of affairs entailing spacetime and matter-energy, consider how might draw Craig’s argument out, if we have more time to consider it than he had to present it in a live debate:

    1. Everything which begins to exist has a cause (true by impossibility of the contrary).
    2. The cosmos began to exist (highly probable on the basis of both logical and scientific arguments).
    3. Therefore, the cosmos has a cause (from (1) and (2)).
    4. The cause of the cosmos is not the cosmos (by impossibility of the contrary).
    5. Therefore, the cause of the cosmos is not contingent, spacetime, and/or matter-energy (elaborated from the properties of the cosmos).
    6. Therefore, the cause of the cosmos is non-contingent, immaterial and eternal (restatement of (5)).
    7. The only other immaterial things of which we have knowledge, if they are immaterial, are abstract objects and minds.
    8. Abstract objects are causally inert (by merit of their nature).
    9. Therefore, if abstract objects are immaterial, an abstract object could not be the cause of the cosmos.
    10. Minds are causally efficacious (by merit of their nature).
    11. A non-contingent and eternal mind is logically possible.
    12. Therefore, if minds are immaterial, a non-contingent and eternal mind could be the cause of the cosmos.
    13. Therefore, if the cause of the cosmos is knowable to us, it is a non-contingent, eternal mind with sufficient causal power to instantiate the cosmos out of prior non-existence (from (2), (6), (9).
    14. An knowable and possible cause is a better explanation than an unknown and unknowable cause.
    15. Therefore, the best explanation for the cause of the cosmos is a mind with sufficient causal power to instantiate the cosmos out of prior non-existence.

    Premise (4) includes non-contingency perhaps a little controversially; but if you deny it, you deny the principle of parsimony, which seems at best hypocritical and at worst damaging to your own position. Furthermore, ancillary arguments can bolster the appeal to parsimony, such as arguments from conceptual realism like the one I’ve elaborated further up.

    Premise (12) can be ably strengthened from mere possibility to virtual certainty, if we refer to ancillary ontological arguments such as those from reason (Lewis, Reppert), or self-reflexivity (Aquinas), etc.

    There aren’t any other premises which appear particularly controversial to me, except perhaps (14)—I suppose this would depend on how you view explanations. But (14) becomes extremely strong if we include ancillary arguments such as I’ve mentioned above, which raise the thesis that the first cause is a mind from mere possibility to extreme probability. Nonetheless, since I’m trying to stick to what Craig might reasonably be extrapolated as saying in his debate, without reference to a bunch of other arguments (ie, I’d like this argument to at least stand as reasonably persuasive in isolation), I’ve chosen to ignore those.

    Ken said,

    I personally feel, like you, that the values of (at least many if not most) these constants could not take on other values. Barrow goes for a mix of inherent values and values taken from a statistical range. Whatever, I think the real problem for science is understanding why the physical constants have the values they do have. It is lazy to assume these arose by chance and then postulate a multiverse or designer to explain the actual values.

    Although this is off-topic, let me reply briefly for the benefit of others who are interested in looking into this further (Ken will foolishly dismiss philosophical arguments so I’m not counting my chickens that he’ll bother). Either the values of various constants are necessary (meaning they could not have been otherwise), or they are contingent (meaning they could have been otherwise). If they are necessary, then you run severely aground on arguments from the principle of sufficient reason. Refer to Thomas Aquinas and Gottfried Leibniz for more on this, and also William Lane Craig; a simple Google search should turn up a fair bit. But if the values of physical constants are contingent, then they could have been otherwise, and fine-tuning arguments are sound.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

  10. Ken
    Ken says:

    Well Bnonn – you had better inform CERN and get them to stop all work on the LHC. You have solved all their problems for them!

  11. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Damian,

    It makes sense. But it doesn’t constitute a good refutation for the following reasons.

    When I ask “well, what caused this ‘personal agent’?” (aka The Big Guy) you are going to say He is eternal and therefore needs no cause. My objection to this would be that the scenario that, say, energy is eternal and that the Big Bang event where energy became mass is a far simpler proposition.

    Only the singularity which the Standard Big Bang Model postulates (and by the way no model has yet empirically succeeded in avoiding) is not the beginning of matter only, but the beginning of all energy as well.

    At least we have some kind of evidence of quantum fluctuations that don’t appear to be causal rather than having to propose a being with intent and experience and so on.

    This is based on a misunderstanding. There are at least ten different interpretations of the math which are utterly deterministic other than quantum indeterminacy of the Copenhagen Interpretation, which many physicists are dissatisfied with. Thus quantum physics is not a proven exception to premise one. But more importantly particles do not come into being out of nothing on the traditional indeterministic interpretation, but arise as spontaneous fluctuations of the energy contained in the sub-atomic vacuum, which is a sea of energy with structure and subject to physical law. Thus spontaneously arising sub-atomic particles do not truly represent creation ex nihilo.

    And I can assert with equal confidence that “1. All agents are caused” to match Craig’s first proposition. If there is room to question this proposition then there is equal room for questioning Craig’s first.

    Only the assertion “all agents are caused,” does not receive equal confidence that “whatever begins to exist has a cause.” Especially as the beginning of the universe implies a necessary and uncaused being. ‘Ahh,’ you say…

    If you want to alter my first proposition to “1. All agents are caused except for God” then it is equally valid for me to alter Craig’s first proposition to “1. Everything that begins to exist had a cause except for the universe”

    It is ad hoc to excuse the universe from needing a cause. But not ad hoc to exclude God, as (i) the concept of God already is a necessary, uncaused and beginningless being, and (ii) the creation of the universe (which includes all space, matter, energy and time) from nothing suggests the cause of the universe be an ultra-mundane being that is a-temporal (or timeless and eternal), and (iii) we have other cosmological arguments from Liebniz and Aquinas to suggest a necessary cause of the universe. So we have a theological reason, a scientific-type reason, and at least two other philosophical reasons to think that God should be excluded from needing a cause. But not reason to think that the universe should be excluded from needing a cause (accept the need to reject the conclusion of the cosmological arguments).

    Plus, I remember Walter Martin saying, “So what God requires a cause, you’ve found your creator, worship Him.” Not great philosophy or theology but the point is, I think, that the objector is assuming God exists in order to find an excuse to deny worshipping Him.

  12. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Well Bnonn – you had better inform CERN and get them to stop all work on the LHC. You have solved all their problems for them!

    In my opinion it is extremely dense comment to make. Bnonn’s not talking about undermining the role of science or disregarding scientific evidence. The LHC does not even come anywhere near to talking about what we are talking about, the creation of the universe.

    William Lane Craig again,

    The new LHC will enable researchers to re-create the conditions existing less than a millionth of a second after the Big Bang at energies higher by a factor of four than previously possible, a great advance but nothing compared to the energies prior to the Planck time 10-43 second after the Big Bang, where General Relativity breaks down. We’ll probably never be able to re-create energy levels high enough to probe that era.

    The LHC should enable physicists to test for the existence of certain partners for sub-atomic particles, like the photino for the photon or the gravitino for the graviton, which are predicted by supersymmetric theories of particle physics. Scientists hope to be able to discover the Higgs boson, a particle thought to be responsible for the field that imparts mass to various sub-atomic particles. The Higgs boson is frequently called “the God Particle,” not because it has any theological significance but because, like God, it is everywhere but is mysteriously hidden. The LHC could provide experimental evidence for string theory and therefore additional spatial dimensions and help to discover the nature of the dark energy that pervades the universe. Of course, it could disconfirm these theories if the predictions fail.

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6587

  13. Damian
    Damian says:

    Bnonn, I assure you that I’m not being flippant.

    Let’s go through this step-by-step:

    Premise 1 makes perfect common sense from our experience. This is tied up in the word “begin” and “cause” in our common use of language. I can also create a premise that uses the same commonsensical structure; “1. Nothing can be in two places at once”. But in the last few years we’ve found strong evidence to indicate that this is not necessarily so. It would have been an irrefutable statement prior to this. I accept Craig’s premise 1 at face value but leave wiggle room for the weirdness we are discovering at the quantum level.

    Premise 2 is on very shaky ground. If, by ‘cosmos’ we mean ‘everything that exists’ then it’s not logically valid to say that it ‘began’ and yet leave something else to exist prior to it. Causality must, by logic, break at this point. This would strongly indicate that we haven’t a clue and may not even be able to formulate a hypothesis that would make sense. It’s at this point that the argument should stop as to go any further is assuming too much. Conclusion 3 simply cannot be granted without stepping over into pure fantasy.

    But let’s go further anyway. Let’s see where this fantasy takes us.

    Premise 4 kind of restates premise 2 and leaves us squirming in delicious anticipation of some magical solution to this dilemma. Premise 5 lets us know that this magical solution doesn’t have to obey any logic that we understand to be true. And conclusion 6 builds on 5 to show that where things used to be bound by time they can now be eternal and where we’re now made of nothing and require nothing to have made us. In other words, we’re in Opposite Land. Back in the cosmos we had to have a cause, out here we don’t.

    But if we’re now in Opposite Land wouldn’t it be valid for me to say that back in the cosmos an object had to ‘exist’ in order to have an effect. Perhaps here things don’t need to exist either. (OK, that was flippant but I’m highlighting the games we can play once we’ve stepped over this line).

    Premise 7 asks us what immaterial things we can think of from experience back here in the cosmos. We’re asked to go all medieval ignoring a couple of centuries of neuroscience and believe that the mind is not from around here. This is a big problem however as this is asking as much as having us beg for the inclusion of The Music of the Spheres or the Aether. How about the staggeringly simple concept that the mind is what the brain does? Is this not better evidenced than a feeling that our minds exist in different dimensions?

    We feel that our minds are immaterial and, therefore, eternal. But can you remember what happened two years before you were born? Can there remain any doubt that what we think of as the ‘mind’ emerges out of physical processes? We all experience it. Premise 7 has very real problems.

    Premise 8 and conclusion 9 eliminate things like numbers from being able to make universes. Of course this makes sense because numbers and other abstract objects exist in our heads as descriptions of things in the cosmos. That they were introduced as possible candidates further shows the medieval thinking required to have got this far.

    Premise 10 says that minds can make things happen. True, it certainly feels that way. There are strong arguments (which I don’t personally side with) that say that even through we feel like we are ‘free’ that this is just an illusion. I tend to go with the world-within-a-world concept where, sure, we’re made of atoms that aren’t ‘free’ but, just like music on a CD can be made of 0s and 1s that are themselves not music, our ‘freedom’ is a result of our component parts ‘doing stuff’. At this level is a kind of freedom. But not to make universes.

    Premise 11 has gone too far. Even in this fantasy we can’t give this the credibility it begs for. Everything else disintegrates after this. We’d gone too far right back at premise 2 and we had fun but if we are to hold on to at least one shred of integrity or dignity we have to stop at this point. To go further would be to make a mockery of our sincere attempts at reasonableness right back at the start.

    So, if it seemed I was being flippant it was not because I hadn’t considered Craig’s arguments but that I see them as implausible and carefully constructed to support a mystical belief system. A far more truthful approach, in my opinion, is to say that we just don’t know but let’s find out without just making stuff up, swallowing it wholesale and then telling others they’re going to hell.

  14. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Damian,

    1. Nothing can be in two places at once”.

    That is an amphiboly in the current discussion. Your objection still leaves us really good grounds still to accept premise one as more probable than its contradictory. But I’ve responded to your ‘wiggle room for the wierdness’ on the quantum level already. You need to go back and read comment 61.

    Causality must, by logic, break at this point.

    If you mean to imply that causality is a law of the universe, than just like the other laws it comes into being with the universe. I’ve already responded to the causation without time.

    This would strongly indicate that we haven’t a clue and may not even be able to formulate a hypothesis that would make sense. It’s at this point that the argument should stop as to go any further is assuming too much.

    No, its at this point we should select the one hypothesis that does make sense and that we have empirical evidence for, the beginning of the universe and the beginning of time.

    Conclusion 3 simply cannot be granted without stepping over into pure fantasy.

    Modus Ponems is a fantasy? Your logic there is what’s fantastic.

  15. Ken
    Ken says:

    No Stuart – my comment wasn’t dense – it was flippant. Purposely so. I was reacting to this:

    “If they are necessary, then you run severely aground on arguments from the principle of sufficient reason. “

    What can this possibly mean? That we don’t know why the values are what they are (true in many cases)? But surely that is why we investigate to find out. It seems to me that assuming the values are what they are by chance, and then refusing to investigate that as one of the possibilities, would be the option that runs aground. And that is what both the “design” merchants (with their “fine-tuning” exaggerations) and the dogmatic multiverse advocates are doing. Bnonn was not interacting at all with my points (he seemed more concerned with objecting to my having (as I expressed it) a personal view!

    Bnonn has not even argued out his case (I don’t see that he can) but just declared it. I consider that dense and worthy only of humour. (At least I didn’t resort to offensively labelling him a moron or a fool).

    A general comment:

    There is a lot of referring to Craig and other apologists here to support arguments I am sure neither of you really understand. I suggest that you would inform yourself better by actually referring to the scientists doing, or involved in, the work. After all, Craig is only there to give an apologist explanation and can clearly be shown to be wrong on at least the cosmological constant “fine-tuning” – by referring to the people doing the work. Who are you going to believe there?

    And try not to just seek quotes to support a position – try to understand what is being said. Your simple rejection of the LHC relevance is an example (although my flippant comment was not meant as part of a serious argument). The Higgs field is intimately involved in the inflationary big bang explanation of the formation of matter and radiation. Consequently the outcomes of the next few years experiments at CERN will have relevance to our ideas of the formation of the universe. The fact that the LHC won’t re-create the energy levels a the earlier times is beside the point as they are not required for validating these fields. Science very often makes progress indirectly on such matters.

    Similarly your rejection of comments on quantum fluctuations. Do you have any evidence that there is a “nothing”, and “empty space” without vacuum energy? Can you produce a situation where an empty space exists divorced from these fundamental fields? Isn’t that what empty space is, after all? Aren’t you just trying to avoid the fact that there are scientific explanations for the formation of the universe by stating they are not creation ex nihilo. Does that matter ? And what is the actual difference between your “nothing” and the one with quantum fluctuations? Where has your special “nothing” been observed?

    Have a look at Frank Wilczek’s lectures on this (A Night with Nobel – The Origin of Mass and the Feebleness of Gravity and Anticipating A New Golden Age). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2004 and has written a very interesting book on the fundamental nature of “nothing” – more fundamental than matter and space-time. It is probably the first popular presentation of these ideas at such an advanced level.

    Quite an eye-opener. It really brings home the inability of “common sense” to understand reality.

  16. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Try to restrict your comments to the KCA. Fine-tuning and design are aspects that would go an a separate thread. Also realise that flippancy isn’t communicated in written letters and without quotes that show context your comments can easily be interpreted as dense.

    There is a lot of referring to Craig and other apologists here to support arguments I am sure neither of you really understand . . . Who are you going to believe there?

    Congratulations on constructing a paragraph that is both ad homenin and the genetic fallacy.

    Similarly your rejection of comments on quantum fluctuations. Do you have any evidence that there is a “nothing”, and “empty space” without vacuum energy? Can you produce a situation where an empty space exists divorced from these fundamental fields? Isn’t that what empty space is, after all? Aren’t you just trying to avoid the fact that there are scientific explanations for the formation of the universe by stating they are not creation ex nihilo?

    A person who was actually listening would be unimpressed with your questions. The Standard Big Bang Model predicts and has verified empirical evidence that all matter, time, energy and space has their origin a finite time ago. Saying “empty space” without vacuum in reference to “nothing” is nonsense, as I think the parenthesis are meant to imply. Nothing is not empty space, it is the non-existance of space. Postulating anything beyond the singularity (in or as the nothingness) is metaphysics.

    Remember that no one has yet escaped the singularity predicted in the Big Bang Model which represents creation ex nihilo.

    And what is the actual difference between your “nothing” and the one with quantum fluctuations? Where has your special “nothing” been observed?

    Where has macro-evolution been observed? I take it your an evolutionist so you do believe in macro-evolution. But surely you recognise that it has not been observed, it has been inferred from the evidence. The point here is not to bring up evolution, but to show that science and logic inferring things without direct observation is legitimate. In principle “nothing” cannot be observed, so your question is stacking the deck. I can tell you at least that “nothing” is not “a sea of energy with structure and subject to physical law.” The vacuum is a part of our universe that itself has an origin in the Big Bang.

  17. Ken
    Ken says:

    Stuart – you avoid the fact that apologists like Craig are not reliable primary (or even secondary) sources on this subject. These apologist groups exist with the function of sanitising information to fit in with the preconceived religious ideas they have, and their followers adhere to. Any open-minded reading of these sources surely makes that clear.

    I will post something on Monday at Open Parachute discussing this sort of approach to justifying ones ideas and how it leads to a ghettoisation and blinkering of the views of their adherents.

    This has happened to you – it’s clearly noticeable from the limitation of your referencing and you clearly opportunist quoting scientific sources (the references themselves garnered from the apologetics sites) without understanding their content (or probably even reading them – certainly Bnonn admitted to not having consulted a reference he relied on). As someone with scientific background I find this sort of approach very closed minded because it prevents you from actually learning from the sources.

    You clearly don’t understand big bang models (hence your insistence on reference to outmoded “standard” non-inflationary models despite relying on the results of the inflationary models) and use it only in an opportunist way. You wish to define the “nothing” in your own way and quite differently to big bang theory (eg. “The picture that emerged from this line if development that a small closed universe can spontaneously nucleate out of nothing, where by ‘nothing’ I mean a state with no classical space and time”) as referred to by Vilenkin, Carroll, etc.

    And then you fall back on to the old ID “inferred” argument. This is the same as your “historical” science argument – when pressed you admit that your “well supported” claim is really only apologetics sources like Stephen C. Meyer. You admit to having been “over zealous.” (You could benefit for an open minded consideration of this video from the science & religion series where Krauss points out that all science is historical which is exactly my experience: Video: Lawrence Krauss – Science & Religion: Two Ships in the Night).

    You want to have your own definition of “nothing” (and yet rely on the scientific understanding of it by referring to the big bang models) – without any justifying evidence except what you state can and cannot be investigated. It’s logically silly to day “In principle “nothing” cannot be observed, …… I can tell you at least that “nothing” is …” (Your are saying “science cannot understand this but I will tell you what it is” – mind you haven’t I heard that somewhere before?)

    I can appreciate that you have a preconceived belief you wish to prove or defend. (An approach which I appreciate is very common). However, there are many with similar preconceived beliefs who do accept scientific knowledge and ideas without feeling the need to sanitise by distortion. Have a look at the interview with Father Coyne (“Scientism” in the eyes of the beholder or You Tube interview with Father George Coyne) – I think he gets it right.

  18. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Ken,

    There were two main issues you raised in your last comment.

    (1) Genetic Fallacy

    The origin of these ideas is absolutely irrelevant. What matters is the truth, and you need to give reasons why these ideas are false, without smearing the sources or questioning the motivation behind them. Using the genetic fallacy by no means constitutes a refutation.

    I should also like to point out that if Craig is unqualified to speak authoritatively on cosmology then you aren’t either. Craig has devoted the last 30 years of his life to understanding and remaining on top of the developments in the field, while you yourself have candidly admitted that this is not your speciality. The point remains even if his motivation to do so is ideological or religiously motivated, for you do not have no ideological agenda to push on the issue. You’re as religiously committed to denying there is a God, and just as dogmatic as you claim we are in accepting there is. You need arguments for your position. The KCA is one of our arguments, and if you wish it refuted you need to direct your criticisms at the argument and not the people making them. To do so is ad homenin and poor, lazy reasoning.

    (2) On “Nothing”

    It’s logically silly to day “In principle “nothing” cannot be observed, …… I can tell you at least that “nothing” is …” (Your are saying “science cannot understand this but I will tell you what it is” – mind you haven’t I heard that somewhere before?)

    You have (deliberately?) cut off the quote and thus distorted my response. I said I can tell you that “nothing” is not a vacuum endowed with rich structure and subject itself to physical laws. Nothing is not something. (In your arguments I might have a referent for “nothing” :-) ).

    And this is an idea supported by great scientists. As I quoted John Barrow and Frank Tipler above in the article.

    At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the Universe originated at such a singularity, we would truly have a creation ex nihilo.

    John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Clarendon, 1986), p. 442.

    To emphasis my point,

    It is, of course, somewhat inappropriate to call the origin of a bubble universe in a fluctuation of the vacuum ‘creation ex nihilo‘, for the quantum mechanical vacuum is not truly ‘nothing’; rather, the vacuum state has a rich structure which resides in a previously existing substratum of space-time, wither Minkowski of de Sitter space-time. Clearly, a true ‘creation ex nihilo‘ would be spontaneous generation of everythingspace-time, the quantum mechanical vacuum, matterat some time in the past.

    John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Clarendon, 1986), p. 441.

  19. Ken
    Ken says:

    This is the problem with out of context quotations isn’t it (especially when we don’t fully understand the subject. For example (from the same book p 435)
    “because our whole observable universe of size … derives from an inflation of the properties of a single quantum fluctuation … there may exist…” (equations omitted for convenience). And you were the one rejecting a role for quantum fluctuations because (you claim) they couldn’t occur in “nothing!”

    It’s really silly to discuss such complex theories (especially by quoting passages which are not really understood) in the manner of a pissing competition. Although reference to the statements of some scientists at least, even if out of context, does show that you are prepared to give authority to a scientific investigation and understanding of the origins of our local universe and other possible universes (although, does this require Craig’s prior approval?).

    I think (but I guess you will refuse to see it my way) some important general comments have been made which show the 1, 2, 3 logic you initially advanced is really not logical (it’s clearly aimed at a preconceived conclusion) and that you attempt to use scientific theory in an opportunist manner to support these conclusions. Like a drunk clinging to a lamppost – more for support than illumination. I know Craig uses the same logical arguments – I reacted the same way when he presented them in NZ.

    My comments on Craig, etc., stand. I am not comparing him with me (this has already been pointed out so you are quite aware of that) – but with scientists doing the work . That’s where I get my information (and that is more than grabbing references out of context from someone like Craig). The little of Craig and Ross that I have read I have found unreliable (Posting something on that – Dark Energy – on Monday too. Will be interested to see your specific defence of Craig there). Neither would I limit my approval of scientists (calling them “great scientists”) to be defined by the fact they have been quoted by Craig. (I probably prefer to concur with Sean Carroll’s assessment of Tipler today as a crackpot The Varieties of Crackpot Experience although Barrow still has scientific credibility). This is not a comment on their book – just the way you confer greatness.

    The fact remains – Craig is not a primary source. Neither is he a reliable secondary source – because he uses the science opportunistically to support religious conclusions. Go to the unbiased original work – and then make up your own mind.

  20. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Ken,

    …because he [Craig] uses the science opportunistically to support religious conclusions. Go to the unbiased original work – and then make up your own mind.

    Assuming unbiased work exists, you need to realise that the presence of ideological motivations do not make an argument a bad one.

    My comments on Craig, etc., stand. I am not comparing him with me (this has already been pointed out so you are quite aware of that) – but with scientists doing the work.

    Your perception of the scientists doing the work, you mean. His perception and your perception butt heads, so you are, in the end comparing him with you.

    You also need to realise the 1, 2, 3 syllogism is logically valid so what we have mainly been discoursing on here is the soundness of premise 2, namely the creation of the universe ex nihilo.

    Finally, in denying premise 2 you do step outside of the current mainstream. Premise 2, based solely on the evidence for the Big Bang, receives wide support. And even if there is doubt cast upon the argument for the absolute beginning of the universe from Big Bang Cosmology, we also have the corroborating arguments from the two philosophical arguments and the other scientific proof.

  21. Ken
    Ken says:

    This discussion has probably reached a natural conclusion but I thought I would pass on something from a book I am currently (and quite fortuitously) reading. It’s John Barrow’s “The Constants of Nature.” As you have described him as a “great scientist’ and used a previous book of his as a source you might be open to considering his comments that are relevant to this discussion. He discusses the consequences of current (2002) inflationary big bang theory and two of his comments are relevant:

    1: (p 189) “Beyond the boundary of that little patch lie many (perhaps infinitely many) other such causally connected patches which will all undergo varying amounts of inflation to produce extended regions of our Universe that lie beyond our visible horizon today. This leads us to expect that our Universe possesses a highly complex geography and the conditions that we can see within our visible horizon, about fifteen billion light years away, are unlikely to typical of those far beyond it. This complicated picture is called ‘chaotic inflation’.”

    This, to me, presents the “multiverse” scenario in a far more credible way. And:

    2: (p 191) ” If a region inflates then it necessarily creates within itself the conditions for further inflation to occur from many sub-regions within. This process can continue into the infinite future with inflated regions producing further sub-regions which inflate, which in turn produce further sub-regions that inflate, and so on … ad infinitum. The process has no end. It has been called the ‘eternal* or ‘self-reproducing* inflationary universe (see Figure 9.6).
    This enlarged conception of the inflationary model did not set out to produce such an elaborate picture of the Universe. The self-reproducing character of the eternal inflationary universe seems to be an inevitable by-product of the sensitivity of the evolution of a universe to small quantum fluctuations in density from place to place when it is very young.”

    He refers to work by Vilenkin (who you also seem to consider authoritative) and Linde for the later concepts.

    This confirms my understanding that current inflationary big bang theory (which is well supported by empirical evidence) raises the possibility of both different mini-universe regions (“multiverse” concept) within the wider universe and an eternal sequence of universes. That is why the empirical validation suggested by Penrose (which might have well be shown to be true by now) is interesting.

    Such understanding of current science does undermine the logic in your argument – one cannot use current big bang theory to support such logic.

  22. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Unfortunately Chaotic Inflationary models have failed to avert the beginning of the universe predicted on the Standard Models. Ken, you are confusing several things here. (1) An ‘eternal universe’ that is infinite in the future and ‘eternal universe’ which is infinite in the past and thus succeeds in avoiding an initial singularity are not the same thing. The quotes you give are for the former. (2) Current inflationary big bang theory ‘which is well supported by empirical evidence’ is not the Chaotic Inflationary Model of the wider universe championed by Linde. In order to avoid an ultimate beginning Linde proposed inflation is beginningless, thus averting the singularity and making our universe but one bubble in a wider, eternal multiverse. This proposal is unduly metaphysical, and though popular has been falsified by Vilenkin in 1993.

    A model in which the inflationary phase has no end and continuously produces new islands of thermalization naturally leads to this question: can this model also be extended to the infinite past, avoiding in this way the problem of the initial singularity? The universe would then be in a steady state of eternal inflation without a beginning. The purpose of this paper is to show that this is in fact not possible in future-eternal inflationary spacetimes as long as they obey some reasonable physical conditions. Such models must necessarily possess initial singularities; i.e., the inflationary universe must have had a beginning. 1

    1. Arvind Borde and Alexander Vilenkin, “Eternal Inflation and the Initial Singularity,” (http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9312022) 1993.

    To make clear the abstract at the beginning reads “It is shown that a physically reasonable spacetime that is eternally inflating to the future must possess an initial singularity.” With the collaboration of Alan Guth these two managed to strengthen their theorem ‘which appears to close that door completely’ on a past eternal universe.

    More recently, general theorems were proved [39], using the global techniques of Penrose and Hawking, where it was shown that inflationary spacetimes are geodesically incomplete to the past. However, it is now believed [40,41] that one of the key assumptions made in these theorems, the weak energy condition, is likely to be violated by quantum fluctuations in the inflating parts of the universe. This appears to open the door again to the possibility that inflation, by itself, can eliminate the need for initial conditions. Now I would like to report on a new theorem, proved in collaboration with Arvind Borde and Alan Guth [42], which appears to close that door completely. 2

    2. Alexander Vilenkin, “Quantum Cosmology and Eternal Inflation,” (http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0204061) 2002

  23. Ken
    Ken says:

    Stuart – we are back to the same old problem. You are quoting references arguing for a beginning to our universe. Something well supported by big bang theory. It’s not an issue in modern science. No-one (or hardly anyone) is trying to “avert the beginning of the universe.”

    Barrow is not arguing for an “eternal universe” in that sense at all. He is just showing that universes that seed daughter universes are a consequence of inflationary big bang theory. So we have big bangs (and perhaps singularities – whatever that means) for specific universes but this in no way negates an “‘eternal’ or ’self-reproducing* inflationary universe” (here he applies “universe” to mean the overall sum of all [sequential and sibling] universes). You just can’t mechanically transfer concepts specific to the big bang of an individual universe to the whole structure of sequential and sibling universes.

    (By the way – these ideas come out of modern inflationary big bang theory which has supplanted the “Standard Model” you keep referring to. The “Standard Model” could not explain the production of matter and radiation – inflationary models do).

    Frankly, I don’t want to get back into the ping pong match based on such misunderstanding (comparing apples with pears). All I am pointing out is that the theory does throw up this possibility, Penrose et al. have perhaps confirmed the possibility in the last few months, and this makes your attempt to use scientific theory to support you logical assumption invalid.

    It’s not a big deal but it does show how logic divorced from reality can be used to “prove” anything. Something science came to grips with long ago. That’s why modern science remains open minded about the concept of an ‘eternal’ or ‘self-reproducing’ universe.

  24. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Kalam Cosmological Argument

    Ken,

    (1) The singularity represents an ultimate beginning. Anything ‘prior’ to this is metaphysics on principle because the singularity is the origin of all space, time, matter and energy. It represents the origin of the everything science can possibly discover from nothing. As I said, Edwards is very clear on this. In the singularity is the origin of the ‘whole structure of sequential and sibling universes.’ An ultimate beginning is not averted.

    No-one (or hardly anyone) is trying to “avert the beginning of the universe.”

    (2) Linde is trying to avoid an ultimate beginning. He does this by proposing a past-eternal universe (in the wider sense) beyond the singularity. But even he recognises that doing so is ‘somewhere at the boundary between physics and metaphysics.’

    (3) Chaotic Inflationary models do not avoid the beginning of the ‘whole structure of sequential and sibling universes’ predicted on the Standard Big Bang Model as shown by Vilenkin’s theorem. And so we have scientific support for the second premise of the argument, namely the universe (even the wider universe outside our own space-time) had a beginning.

    All I am pointing out is that the theory does throw up this possibility, Penrose et al. have perhaps confirmed the possibility in the last few months, and this makes your attempt to use scientific theory to support you logical assumption invalid.

    (4) Speculative and un-proven theories such as Penrose’s that you adoringly refer to do not make logical arguments ‘invalid‘. The most science can hope for is to make this logical argument unsound. The difference is made clear here;
    http://talk.thinkingmatters.org.nz/2009/what-makes-a-good-argument
    But even if Penrose does manage to prove a universe existed prior to our own, on the basis of sound and valid philosophical arguments alone we have ample reason to distrust the conclusion we live in a past-eternal universe. Besides, science alone could ever conclude we live in a past-eternal universe – that is a philosophical conclusion.

    It’s not a big deal but it does show how logic divorced from reality can be used to “prove” anything. Something science came to grips with long ago. That’s why modern science remains open minded about the concept of an ‘eternal’ or ’self-reproducing’ universe.

    (5) On the strength of Vilenkin’s theorem using the terms ‘eternal’ and ‘self-reproducing’ to refer to a beginningless wider universe is misuse. These should only be applied to the future-eternal universe.
    (6) Your dismissal of logic is troublesome, and so opportunistic it would be funny if it weren’t so horrifying. I agree that faulty logic can be used to prove anything, but as the logical philosophical proofs proffered have yet to be refuted there really is no reason, accept scientism, to accept that the beginning of the universe cannot be proved by logic alone.
    (7) Scientist do take these logical proofs seriously. Ellis, Kirchner and Stoeger write;

    Can there really be an infinite set of really existing universes? We suggest that, on the basis of well-known philosophical arguments, the answer is No.1
    1. GFR Ellis, U Kirchner and WR Stoeger, “Multiverses and physical cosmology” (http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0305292v3) 2003

    See also, Rüdiger Vaas, “Time before Time; Classifications of universes in contemporary cosmology, and how to avoid the antinomy of the beginning and eternity of the world” (http://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0408111v1) 2003

    Finally, referring to the very first comment you made in this thread.

    I have always found this argument very unconvincing – even from a naïve logic point of view. It comes across so clearly as an argument skewed to support a preconceived belief.

    After all this it seems to me, based upon your inability to give convincing reasons why the Kalam Cosmological argument fails that it’s actually the denial which is forced or motivated by preconceived beliefs.

  25. James
    James says:

    Professor Keith Ward of Oxford has a interesting lecture, video and text are here:

    http://www.gresham.ac.uk/event.asp?PageId=4&EventId=271

    Nobel Laureate Eugene Wigner writes: ‘The very study of the external world led to the conclusion that the content of the consciousness is an ultimate reality’. Particles only exist when observed, he suggests, and so the reality of particles entails that consciousness is a fundamental element of reality, not just a by-product of some ‘real’ material world.

    Some, like Von Neumann, even suggest that nothing would be real unless consciousness exists, that all real things are constituents of consciousness – which is a complete reversal of materialism. Most quantum physicists, however, suppose that there is some non-conscious reality underlying the phenomena we see. Particles are real, but only as phenomena observed by human consciousness. Particles do not exist when not being observed. They are how reality appears to us under specific conditions, from a specifically human point of view. Something may underlie them, but what it is, the true reality, is forever hidden, a ‘veiled reality’, as Bernard d’Espagnat puts it.

    Von Neumann suggests that the observer creates phenomenal reality. A less extreme view would be to say that the observer, and the nature of the observer’s consciousness, creates the reality we perceive out of an underlying reality whose true nature must be forever hidden from us. Either way, it looks as if consciousness has a fundamental and ineliminable place in our conception of what the physical world is like. In other words, the physical is not simply there, apart from consciousness. Consciousness has to exist for physical reality to exist in the way it does, in relation to us – and we cannot get beyond that to a deeper reality, except in a purely mathematical sense. It is not just ‘secondary qualities’ like colour and smell that only exist in relation to a human observer. Now the very electrons and atoms out of which physical reality appears to be constituted only exist in relation to a human observer.

    If consciousness plays such a key role in observed phenomena, does this not undermine a materialistic view of the universe? And does this not point to an ultimate Consciousness?

  26. Ken
    Ken says:

    I am surprised no-one has respond to your comment, James. I have 2 comments:

    1: Would you take your car to Keith Ward for servicing? Not if you are wise – you woulkd go to an auto-mechanic. Similarly – if you want to understand quantum mechanics go to a quantum physicist – not a theologian.

    2: The point you are making is just an extreme interpretation of the measurement problem. Particles appear, decohere or become entangled via interaction with other objects – they are “measured” by these other objects. No consciousness is required.

    Now, physicists when they talk about such phenomena often use metaphors like “measure,” “know”, etc. (useful material for quote miners with a preconceived belief and agenda). The whole subject is exceedingly difficult and “common sense” logic is just not applicable. Quantum mechanics therefore becomes a very fertile area for all sorts of charlatans and barrow pushers.

    This is a general problem here at this blog. The sponsors want to use science – they don’t trust the scientists so they rely on material predigested and interpreted for them by the theologians. All aimed at justifying a preconceived belief.

    James – you remember the problem you had supporting Ross and Craig regarding the cosmological constant (Fiddling with “fine-tuning”). You would have avoided that if you had instead relied on someone like Krauss – a scientist working in that area without a theological axe to grind. The same here – don’t take Wards word as “gospel” – at least in fields like quantum mechanics.

  27. TroyGeri
    TroyGeri says:

    Ken,It seems very clear after reading thru this thread that you have had no success in undermining the KCA. The sponsors have clearly shown scientists in the field (i.e. Vilenkin and Borde to name a few) who have dispelled the possibility of ANY sequence of universes extending back into the infinite past but rather that there must be a point of ultimate singularity at a finite point in the past, this applies not only to standard big bang model but the inflationary model that you seems to think escapes this conclusion. At the end of the day anyone sitting on the fence in this discussion would clearly have to come down on the side of the KCA based on the philosophical, scientific and logical arguments presented, you do nothing at all to present a compelling or even cogent case

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