Are logical arguments evidence?

It is said that an argument will convince a reasonable man, and a proof will convince even an unreasonable man. So why do so-called atheists insist upon evidence? In a previous discussion, a claim was made that logical arguments are not evidence. Here I want to unpick that comment and see if we can find a way of thinking about the relationship between evidence and logical arguments that is helpful.

First I want to draw a distinction between two different types of evidence. First there is physical-evidence. This would be material stuff, such as bullet shells, exit wounds, DNA, photographs, lab results, etc. All of these would be available, either directly or indirectly to the five senses.

I take it that it was this type of evidence that was meant by the claim logical arguments are not evidence – that is, physical-evidence. Such as an arrowhead in cave can be said to be evidence for human habitation of that cave. Or that a shivering of a body can be said to be evidence it is cold.

What is troubling is that if physical-evidence is a necessary for knowledge, then we should know nothing of moral truths, aesthetic values, and meta-physical intuitions. Yet surly we do know that torturing babies is wrong, open graves are macabre, waterfalls are sublime, that the past is objective and other minds do exist. The Achilles heal of this particular epistemological theory is it is self-referentially incoherent. If its reasonable, then its unreasonable by its own merits. For no physical evidence is able to to reveal that evidence is required for reasonable belief. If it could be rationally affirmed and were true, then the Christian would be in an awkward position, for a further implication would be there is no hope for reasonable belief in non-physical entities. In fact the criteria, if adopted, would rule out the possibility of attaining reasonable belief in non-physical entities before any discussion or debate began.

There must therefore be something terribly wrong then with the criteria. Which is why I’d like to draw our attention to another type of evidence called argument-evidence. Evidence is broadly speaking that which lends support to a proposition or claim. Argument-evidence is any reason given for believing something is true or false. That is not to say that all argument-evidence is good evidence. That is just to say that arguments can count as evidence, in that they too give support for believing some proposition or claim. There can of course be counter-evidence that could dissuade belief.

For those not inclined to accept this distinction I have drawn between and physical-evidence and argument-evidence, and those who disagree with me that arguments can count as evidence, it will be useful to consider the following.

Physical evidence doesn’t speak. That is to say, all physical-evidence passes through the filter of an interpretative lens, and, perhaps unnoticed by the advocate, acquires certain meaning that was not intrinsic to the object or event itself. More colloquially, material objects have no voice to tell you what they signify. Everything is interpreted by a person who brings with them additional premises from their world view and store of experiences.

We have all gone through what its like to say one thing, and for two people to hear totally different things. A fossil will tell a paleontologist one thing. The same fossil will tell the next paleontologist another thing – sometimes even used to support mutually exclusive theories. Yet if physical-evidence was all there was available for investigation, how is it then that disparate theories can arise over the same object or event?

What happens is that somewhere between an objects discovery and its interpretation additional premises are added. These premises combine to form arguments. One hopes of course that these arguments are logical. Different premises given by different perspectives lead to different conclusions. Thus, in a way, all evidence is argument-evidence, for the physical-evidence, if left to itself, remains silent and tells us nothing.

103 replies
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  1. TheCraftMan
    TheCraftMan says:

    @Stuart,

    It seems as though Ken was reading the article he wanted to read rather than the article you actually wrote.

  2. Joe
    Joe says:

    WTF? Arguments are BASED on evidence. That's how an argument functions to be sound. Are logically valid arguments evidence? Horse bollocks. Unless they are sound, they're just about worthless. For them to be sound, however, they REQUIRE evidence.

    as for KCA, nothing has been actually shown to ever have begun existing in the sense the argument requires, and the universe itself has not been established to ever begun.

  3. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Original Simon,

    The closer and more observable it is to our senses the better.

    This isn't really what I asked for. I asked for nessecary and sufficient conditions. I strikes me as funny that if these are your necessary and sufficient conditions then you'd never believe in such things as black holes.

  4. TheCraftMan
    TheCraftMan says:

    @Joe,

    WTF? Arguments are BASED on evidence. That’s how an argument functions to be sound. Are logically valid arguments evidence? Horse bollocks. Unless they are sound, they’re just about worthless. For them to be sound, however, they REQUIRE evidence.

    Math disagrees with you.

  5. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Hi Joe,

    Arguments are BASED on evidence. That's how an argument functions to be sound. Are logically valid arguments evidence? Horse bollocks. Unless they are sound, they're just about worthless. For them to be sound, however, they REQUIRE evidenc

    It's not true that a sound argument requires physical-evidence, if that's what you mean. All that a sound arguments requires is logical validity (it must be formally and informally valid) and true premises. For sure physical-evidence can provide premises and be used to support premises, and in that sense "arguments are based on evidence. "

    The question I'm using to frame my discussion is this; "why can't we consider logically valid and sound arguments as evidence as well?" and I have two points for an affirmative answer: 1) physical evidence is mute. It tells us nothing untill we provide additional premises (perhaps from our worldview, backlog of personal experiences, expertise in whatever field, other theories, discernment of patterns, etc.) to make a conclusion (This conclusion could become a hypothesis for later testing). 2) extending from this observation in (1), all evidence, if it "speaks", is argument-evidence.

    as for KCA, nothing has been actually shown to ever have begun existing in the sense the argument requires, and the universe itself has not been established to ever begun.

    As for th KCA, it sounds as if you are confused on exacly what Big bang cosmology entails and the theory proposes. That is an origin of the universe in the finite past ex nihilo. This theory has recieved confirmation over and over again, and insofar as we should believe the deliverances of the best of modern science, we are within our rational rights to believe the second premise of the KCA is true, namely, that the universe began to exist.

  6. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Hello The Craftman,

    Before I tried to read and interpret Joe's comment more sympathetically I was going to say something similar. It does sound like he is saying that a necessary condition for an argument to be sound is evidence.

    If by evidence he means a premise, then that would be correct. But that is totally ignoring what I wrote in the article above and it seems like he has so that interpretation doesn't seem likely.

    So the best I can make out is he is saying that a necessary condition for an argument to be sound is evidence – and physical-evidence at that. Which is crazy! That amounts to saying that modish ponems expressed symbolically is not an argument. Numerous other absurdities would also follow, like you point out, a mathematical proof is not an argument.

  7. Joe
    Joe says:

    It’s not true that a sound argument requires physical-evidence, if that’s what you mean. All that a sound arguments requires is logical validity (it must be formally and informally valid) and true premises.

    How can you know if something is a "true premise" without evidence? unless you're talking pure math which, being abstract, isn't part of the real world ANYWAY,

    For sure physical-evidence can provide premises and be used to support premises, and in that sense “arguments are based on evidence. ”

    This is complete bollocks, especially since you're trying to use this to justify baseless, but logically valid arguments to relate to the real world. If that were true, science wouldn't need empirical evidence.

    <blockquote<The question I’m using to frame my discussion is this; “why can’t we consider logically valid and sound arguments as evidence as well?” and I have two points for an affirmative answer: 1) physical evidence is mute. It tells us nothing untill we provide additional premises (perhaps from our worldview, backlog of personal experiences, expertise in whatever field, other theories, discernment of patterns, etc.) to make a conclusion (This conclusion could become a hypothesis for later testing). 2) extending from this observation in (1), all evidence, if it “speaks”, is argument-evidence.

    Because you can't have a sound argument without evidence that relates to the real world. And uh, you might want to check what evidence actually means.

    As for th KCA, it sounds as if you are confused on exacly what Big bang cosmology entails and the theory proposes. That is an origin of the universe in the finite past ex nihilo.

    Bollocks, and you know it. ALL that big bang entails is that at a finite point in the past, the space unfurled.

    This theory has recieved confirmation over and over again, and insofar as we should believe the deliverances of the best of modern science, we are within our rational rights to believe the second premise of the KCA is true, namely, that the universe began to exist.

    COMPLETE and utter lie on your part. What you are trying to talk about is PRE-PLANCK cosmology, of which NO EVIDENTIAL SUPPORT EXIST WHATSOEVER. ALL that the Big Bang entails is SOMETHING THAT ALREADY EXISTED UNFOLDED.

    It says NOTHING of creation of ANYTHING. Now, if you have some evidence that supports your assertion that there in fact was a CREATION event, some people in Scandinavia wants to talk to you.

  8. Joe
    Joe says:

    So the best I can make out is he is saying that a necessary condition for an argument to be sound is evidence – and physical-evidence at that. Which is crazy!

    How is that crazy? Unless you're making strictly abstract claims, YOU NEED EVIDENCE TO LINK THE ARGUMENT TO THE REAL WORLD.

    That amounts to saying that modish ponems expressed symbolically is not an argument. Numerous other absurdities would also follow, like you point out, a mathematical proof is not an argument

    Where have I said this? A mathematical proof is not SOUND. or do you not know how physics works?

  9. TheCraftMan
    TheCraftMan says:

    @Joe,

    How can you know if something is a “true premise” without evidence?

    A valid argument is one in which the inference necessarily follows from the premises. A sound argument is one in which the argument is valid and the premises are true. How do we know when the premises are true? You are claiming a premise can only be known to be true if it is empirical in nature. What empirical evidence do you have to substantiate this claim? I believe the word you used was baseless.

    You are free to retort with capitalize words, weasel words, and other shoddy rhetorical tactics employed by those without a good foundation for their claims.

  10. TheCraftMan
    TheCraftMan says:

    @Joe,

    Where have I said this?

    It certainly sounds as such below.

    Arguments are BASED on evidence. That’s how an argument functions to be sound. Are logically valid arguments evidence? Horse bollocks. Unless they are sound, they’re just about worthless. For them to be sound, however, they REQUIRE evidence.

  11. Joe
    Joe says:

    A valid argument is one in which the inference necessarily follows from the premises. A sound argument is one in which the argument is valid and the premises are true. How do we know when the premises are true? You are claiming a premise can only be known to be true if it is empirical in nature. What empirical evidence do you have to substantiate this claim? I believe the word you used was baseless.

    So prove to me without using empirical evidence that a chair is blue.

    You are free to retort with capitalize words, weasel words, and other shoddy rhetorical tactics employed by those without a good foundation for their claims.

    Thank you for completely missing the point. Unless you provide evidential support to relate it to the real world, how can it be considered sound?

  12. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    We consider an argument "sound" when it's premises are true and it is logically valid. If an argument is sound then its conclusion is guaranteed true.

    A premise cannot be sound. That is not a property of premises. A premise can be either true or false.

    If a premise is true, then it relates to the real world. To determine if a premise is true (or more likely true than not), then you may need to acquire evidentiary support, and this support may include empirical or physical-evidence.

  13. Joe
    Joe says:

    If a premise is true, then it relates to the real world. To determine if a premise is true (or more likely true than not), then you may need to acquire evidentiary support, and this support may include empirical or physical-evidence.

    Which is why a logical argument isn't evidence. Argument REQUIRES evidence.

  14. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    (1) Which is why a logical argument isn’t evidence. (2) Argument REQUIRES evidence. [numbers mine]

    Lets say I grant 2. Why not 1 also?

  15. TheCraftMan
    TheCraftMan says:

    @Joe,

    Thank you for completely missing the point. Unless you provide evidential support to relate it to the real world, how can it be considered sound?

    It seems my mistake was not missing the point. You claimed empirical evidence is necessary for an argument to be sound, correct? Yes. How do we know empirical evidence is necessary for an argument to be sound? Well, to answer such a question, you would need to present some manner of support for your position. If you must do this, then you must present an argument. If you must present an argument, then according to your criteria for a sound argument, it would be necessary for you to provide some manner of empirical evidence. As is clearly evidenced by the reasoning above, your perspective is self-contradictory. Therefore, I will provide a suggestion; qualify or retract your claim.

  16. Joe
    Joe says:

    It seems my mistake was not missing the point. You claimed empirical evidence is necessary for an argument to be sound, correct?Yes. How do we know empirical evidence is necessary for an argument to be sound? Well, to answer such a question, you would need to present some manner of support for your position.

    You're twisting my words. In order for the argument to relate to the real world, which MINE does not since it is about how arguments are to be formed, that would require evidence. Or are you saying that you can argue that a chair is blue without such evidence?

  17. Joe
    Joe says:

    just HAVE to pick up this gem.

    What is troubling is that if physical-evidence is a necessary for knowledge, then we should know nothing of moral truths, aesthetic values, and meta-physical intuitions.Yet surly we do know that torturing babies is wrong, open graves are macabre, waterfalls are sublime, that the past is objective and other minds do exist.

    How we "know" these, except for the last two are COMPLETELY different from how we know whether say the structure of the atoms.

  18. TheCraftMan
    TheCraftMan says:

    @Joe

    In order for the argument to relate to the real world, which MINE does not since it is about how arguments are to be formed, that would require evidence.

    If your argument has real world consequences, then it's self-defeating. If it does not, then, in your own words, it's "worthless."

  19. Joe
    Joe says:

    If your argument has real world consequences, then it’s self-defeating.

    How mine has "real world consequence", as you say is different from how your arguments like determining say if a chair is blue has "real world consequence". Or are you now saying you can determine that without evidence now?

  20. TheCraftMan
    TheCraftMan says:

    @Joe

    How mine has “real world consequence”, as you say is different from how your arguments like determining say if a chair is blue has “real world consequence”.

    How are the two qualitatively different? (Warning: I am giving you just enough rope to hang yourself.)

  21. Joe
    Joe says:

    How are the two qualitatively different? (Warning: I am giving you just enough rope to hang yourself.)

    How is an argument about arguments different from arguments determining whether a chair is blue?

  22. Joe
    Joe says:

    My argument is strictly "abstract" in the sense it's talking about how one WOULD relate to the real world, but it is not ABOUT the real world unlike what you're trying to strawman my argument into sounding like.

  23. Joe
    Joe says:

    There is no noose. Or are you saying you can argue the chair is blue without using evidence?

    Do you even know what evidence is? Do you know how science even works?

  24. OriginalSimon
    OriginalSimon says:

    Stuart,

    There is scientific evidence for the beginning of the universe

    This is self-defeating because time is a property OF the universe. Come on, you're supposed to be the logically rigorous one and you turn a blind eye to this. HOW CONVENIENT!

    It infers that the universe had a cause…

    Ya, ya. More anti-empirical nonsense. There is just no precedent for this, and all of your 'simultaneous causation' claims are temporal (and wrong).

    I guess no one is too bothered by the KCA misusing these though, since no one who has a regard for evidence-based inquiry gives it any merit.

    —–

    Stuart, you still need to come up with something with more obscure evidence than the evidence of the beginning of the universe (Again, you can't, and so you won't).

  25. OriginalSimon
    OriginalSimon says:

    OriginalSimon:

    The closer and more observable it is to our senses the better.

    Stuart:

    This isn’t really what I asked for. I asked for nessecary and sufficient conditions. I strikes me as funny that if these are your necessary and sufficient conditions then you’d never believe in such things as black holes.

    I thought we agreed that logical arguments have to have some evidence and evidenciary arguments have to have logic. So it is just not as black and white as saying there are necessary and sufficient conditions.

    Your original question: "..do you have a list in mind of necessary and sufficient conditions for what passes as “quality” evidence?"

    The whole point of the word 'quality' is because it is NOT a black and white thing. But you seem unable to let go the fundamentalist black and white thinking: "necessary and sufficient". The answer is, the closer to our senses something is the better quality the evidence. And, again, the beginning of the universe is the worst!

    I can see (seeing is one of the five senses) the evidence for a black hole. In fact, I could show it to you. You can't show me anything of even remotely similar quality evidence for the existence of god. And so you are reduced to arcane arguments at the end of the universe. Compare the evidence for a black hole to the KCA. No contest. Not even close!

  26. Joe
    Joe says:

    There is scientific evidence for the beginning of the universe

    I love how you, Stuart or anybody else who tries to defend this point never actually got around to this.

    Where? Big Bang makes NO statement about the beginning of the universe, but of a cosmic expansion. SOMETHING. to SOMETHING. Just like ALL our examples of "beginning".

  27. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Joe,

    Stuart: There is scientific evidence for the beginning of the universe

    Joe: I love how you, Stuart or anybody else who tries to defend this point never actually got around to this.

    Where? Big Bang makes NO statement about the beginning of the universe, but of a cosmic expansion. SOMETHING. to SOMETHING. Just like ALL our examples of “beginning”.

    To be honest, your response regarding Big Bang cosmology not saying anything about the beginning of the universe confused me greatly. As a result, among the million other things I should be doing right now other than arguing with you, I have been looking for reasons why you'd say this. If you could provide some resources for validation of this specific idea that would be great.

    In my brief research and recall into this, I have the three reasons (so far) as to why what is quoted above is confused.

    1) The standard Big Bang model includes an initial singularity. This singularity is a point of infinite density, and represents a space-time boundary, which is the beginning of the universe.

    (The ontological status of this initial singularity is not considered a scientific question, so precisely why you say it is "something" is dubious – especially in a discussion about arguments requiring scientific evidence. In fact, science being the study of nature or it's laws, it is in-principle unable to answer this metaphysical question, for the laws of the universe break down at the singularity. A good philosophical case however, can be made to regard the singularity's ontological status as nothing.)

    2) An initial singularity is inevitable according to the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorems (which confirm the predictions of the standard model of an initial singularity). Alternative models have been made to avoid these predictions, but…

    3) The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem in 2003 shows that ANY universe that has on average been expanding must have a space-time boundary and cannot be infinite in the past. This holds regardless of the physical description of the universe prior to Plank-time.

    So the one who says the universe had a beginning is well within the mainstream of scientific thought. It occurs to me now that you may not think of these theorems as evidenced. (This is why some call cosmology a sort of quasi-science. Berlinski says (something like) cosmology is a strange amalgamation of history, philosophy and mathematics! :-) However, the predictions of these models are evidence by the observational data, and I don't think Hawking would appreciate being denied the title.

  28. Joe
    Joe says:

    1) The standard Big Bang model includes an initial singularity. This singularity is a point of infinite density, and represents a space-time boundary, which is the beginning of the universe.

    Actually this is wrong on several levels, not only because it completely has failed to take into account quantum physics, and is based on the incomplete GTR. Also, where are you getting the "space-time boundary"? It shows that at best, the singularity itself did not experience time. It has not been established that either time or universe ever had a beginning.

    (The ontological status of this initial singularity is not considered a scientific question, so precisely why you say it is “something” is dubious – especially in a discussion about arguments requiring scientific evidence. In fact, science being the study of nature or it’s laws, it is in-principle unable to answer this metaphysical question, for the laws of the universe break down at the singularity. A good philosophical case however, can be made to regard the singularity’s ontological status as nothing.)

    How is a "singularit of infinite density" nothing? You got it all backwards.

    2) An initial singularity is inevitable according to the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorems (which confirm the predictions of the standard model of an initial singularity). Alternative models have been made to avoid these predictions, but…

    Guess what? ALL pre-planck cosmology suffer from the same problem: NO EVIDENTIAL SUPPORT. NOTHING in the branch has been established. NOTHING. Oh, and before you go on further with your strawman of the BVG,

    3) The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem in 2003 shows that ANY universe that has on average been expanding must have a space-time boundary and cannot be infinite in the past. This holds regardless of the physical description of the universe prior to Plank-time.

    “So far, it’s been made to sound, I think for the purposes of simplifying things, that until the cyclic model, all scientists had believed that the big bang was the origin of time itself. That idea is certainly part of the classic theory of the big bang, but it’s an idea which I think most cosmologists have not taken seriously in quite a while”

    from Alan Guth,

    “What we call the Big Bang was almost certainly not the actual origin of time in either of the theories that we’re talking about. … The main difference I think [between the inflationary theory and Neil and Paul's theory] is the answer to the question of what is it that made the universe large and smooth everything out. … The inflationary version of cosmology is not cyclic. … It goes on literally forever with new universes being created in other places. The inflationary prediction is that our region of the universe would become ultimately empty and void but meanwhile other universes would sprout out in other places in this multiverse.”

    both from
    http://www.onpointradio.org/2007/05/forget-the-bi

    So the one who says the universe had a beginning is well within the mainstream of scientific thought. It occurs to me now that you may not think of these theorems as evidenced. (This is why some call cosmology a sort of quasi-science. Berlinski says (something like) cosmology is a strange amalgamation of history, philosophy and mathematics! :-) However, the predictions of these models are evidence by the observational data, and I don’t think Hawking would appreciate being denied the title.

    What are you babbling on about? I never called it quasi-science. However, UNTIL THEY ARE ESTABLISHED, they amount to just about nil.

  29. Joe
    Joe says:

    In fact, I forgot to add, a universe being created from nothing would be a VIOLATION of the First Law of the Thermodynamics. Make of that what you will.

  30. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Everyone agrees that the laws of physics only apply within the universe and not to the initial singularity. It's comments like that show you really don't know what you're talking about.

    Your large quotes look impressive until you realise they are disparate quotes taken from a radio program and prove only that you can google.

  31. Joe
    Joe says:

    Everyone agrees that the laws of physics only apply within the universe and not to the initial singularity. It’s comments like that show you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Says the guy who claims the big bang speaks of a creative event.

    Your large quotes look impressive until you realise they are disparate quotes taken from a radio program and prove only that you can google.

    More evasion from Stu. Really- have you even read the quotations AT ALL? Guth of YOUR Borde, GUTH, Villenkin theorem flat out refutes your own claims.

    Also, you do realize timelessness and causality CANNOT coexist?

  32. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Joe,

    It's not MY theorem. Its Guth, Borde, and Vilenkins theorem. I don't think Guth would appreciate being misrepresented. Guth believes that the universe began to exist. The general inflationary scenario he postulates describes a brief pre-history to the universe. This does not contradict the origin of the universe (or the multiverse) ex nihilo.

    Also, you do realize timelessness and causality CANNOT coexist?

    Lets say your right. This isn't a problem for the theistic hypothesis for the origins of the universe.

  33. TheCraftMan
    TheCraftMan says:

    @Joe,

    My argument is strictly “abstract” in the sense it’s talking about how one WOULD relate to the real world, but it is not ABOUT the real world unlike what you’re trying to strawman my argument into sounding like.

    All argumentation is abstract. And, based upon your previous criterion, your argument is unsound.

  34. Joe
    Joe says:

    It’s not MY theorem. Its Guth, Borde, and Vilenkins theorem. I don’t think Guth would appreciate being misrepresented. Guth believes that the universe began to exist.

    from a hot dense mass like virtually all cosmologists. Stop equivocating, Stu.

    <blockquote<The general inflationary scenario he postulates describes a brief pre-history to the universe. This does not contradict the origin of the universe (or the multiverse) ex nihilo.

    Are you infinitely dense? Do you not realize

    Lets say your right. This isn’t a problem for the theistic hypothesis for the origins of the universe.

    Uh, yes it is. It effectively breaks down your argument.

    http://www.closertotruth.com/video-profile/Did-Our-Universe-have-a-Beginning-Alan-Guth-/856

    Guth disagrees with you.

    No he doesn't. Did you miss the part where he says that the universe "began" FROM A HOT, DENSE singularity ie NOT a creation? This isn't the beginning KCA REQUIRES. After that, he SAYS outright that everything "before" that is SPECULATIVE.

  35. Joe
    Joe says:

    My argument is strictly “abstract” in the sense it’s talking about how one WOULD relate to the real world, but it is not ABOUT the real world unlike what you’re trying to strawman my argument into sounding like.

    the key word is how. HOW mine relates is with regards to OTHER ARGUMENTS. How an argument about the colour of chair relates directly to the real world.

  36. Joe
    Joe says:

    <blockquote<The general inflationary scenario he postulates describes a brief pre-history to the universe. This does not contradict the origin of the universe (or the multiverse) ex nihilo.</blockquote>

    Forgot to address this for some reason. It does not contradict it because it doesn't even begin to address it. Also, don't forget his theorem is just that- a theorem. He ADMITS it to be speculative, just like ALL THE OTHER PRE-PLANCK cosmology. ALL that's been agreed upon is that the big bang was the unfurling of space.

  37. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Joe,

    What makes the Borde, Guth and Vilenkin theorem so powerful is it holds no matter what the description of early universe. Thus the speculation on the Pre-planc universe need not detract from an absolute origin.

    Instead of just being a detractor of specific reasons given, perhaps you'd like to offer specific reasons to explain your rationale. For instance, you say "Uh, yes it is. It effectively breaks down your argument." Perhaps you can explain how divine timelessness and a divine cause of the universe is incompatible. Because I see an immediately apparent, simple and elegant solution that would solve the dilemma you seem to have.

  38. Joe
    Joe says:

    What makes the Borde, Guth and Vilenkin theorem so powerful is it holds no matter what the description of early universe. Thus the speculation on the Pre-planc universe need not detract from an absolute origin.

    Speculation. You admit so yourself, but you're claiming it's more than that? Why? How? Guth admits himself IF his views are correct, which HE DOES NOT CLAIM, then it would suggest that there was an "origin" that lead to THIS universe via the big bang.

    Also, nice of you to support that non-sequitur "the universe began, therefore god".

    The simple matter of fact is, that the universe came from nothing makes more sense than that the universe came from nothing from god, by the way of Occam's razor.

    Instead of just being a detractor of specific reasons given, perhaps you’d like to offer specific reasons to explain your rationale. For instance, you say “Uh, yes it is. It effectively breaks down your argument.” Perhaps you can explain how divine timelessness and a divine cause of the universe is incompatible. Because I see an immediately apparent, simple and elegant solution that would solve the dilemma you seem to have.

    How can a timeless being "cause" anything? In order for something to "cause" something, there must be a moment prior to which it was uncaused. Same goes for "beginning".

  39. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Joe,

    Speculation. You admit so yourself, but you’re claiming it’s more than that? Why? How? Guth admits himself IF his views are correct, which HE DOES NOT CLAIM, then it would suggest that there was an “origin” that lead to THIS universe via the big bang.

    I admit that descriptions of the Pre-plank universe are speculative. But the absolute origin of the universe obtains despite what those descriptions are (if the universe has on average been expanding throughout its history) via the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem – which is proving to be a watershed in cosmogony. But even if the whole scientific project is speculation (tentative proposals that grasp imperfectly at reality), that would not detract from scientific lines of evidence and reasoning which support the second premise of the KCA – that the universe began to exist.

    Also, nice of you to support that non-sequitur “the universe began, therefore god”.

    I didn't say that, so I don't know why you would deceptively use quotes marks. And its not a non-sequitur as the KCA has premises which flow logically to a conclusion and the idea of an uncaused cause.

    The simple matter of fact is, that the universe came from nothing makes more sense than that the universe came from nothing from god, by the way of Occam’s razor.

    No. Occam's razor states that you should not posit causes beyond necessity. As nothing can come from nothing, there is a necessity for a cause. That something can come from nothing is worse than magic.

    In order for something to “cause” something, there must be a moment prior to which it was uncaused.

    False. There is such a thing as simultaneous causation. My favorite example of this is a submerged log, which causes the water to be displaced. Thus in causation we can speak of a logical succession where there is no temporal succession. I'm actually leaning towards the view that all causation is simultaneous.

    Same goes for “beginning”.

    I interpret the above to say, "In order for something to begin to exist, there must be a moment prior to when it did not exist." This just illustrates a problem with language. There is no problem conceptually with the universe beginning to exist. By it we simply mean that it was not eternal in the past, but had an absolute origin a finite time ago.

  40. Joe
    Joe says:

    I admit that descriptions of the Pre-plank universe are speculative. But the absolute origin of the universe obtains despite what those descriptions are (if the universe has on average been expanding throughout its history) via the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem – which is proving to be a watershed in cosmogony.

    Again your wibbling and misrepresentation of what the BVG states, which is nothing of the sort. It goes under the assumptions JUST LIKE ALL OTHER pre-planck cosmology, with regards to the nature of the singularity from which the space unfurled. You don't know what the conditions were like, and neither do they. You're trying to make that one particular model seem as if it's more than it is, which is a speculative, unevidenced piece that is about as established as any other. That is, they are NOT.

    Oh, let's not forget another one of Guth's quote:

    There is of course no conclusion that an eternally inflating model must have a unique beginning, and no conclusion that there is an upper bound on the length of all backwards-going geodesics from a given point. There may be models with regions of contraction embedded within the expanding region that

    could evade our theorem. Aguirre & Gratton have proposed a model that evades our theorem, in which the arrow of time reverses at the t = ?? hypersurface, so the universe “expands” in both halves of the full de Sitter space.

    from http://online.itp.ucsb.edu/online/strings_c03/gut

    But even if the whole scientific project is speculation (tentative proposals that grasp imperfectly at reality), that would not detract from scientific lines of evidence and reasoning which support the second premise of the KCA – that the universe began to exist.

    WHAT evidence? Do you have actual evidence that the universe was created ex nihilio and had such ABSOLUTE beginnings? If you say Big Bang, I'll laugh.

    I didn’t say that, so I don’t know why you would deceptively use quotes marks. And its not a non-sequitur as the KCA has premises which flow logically to a conclusion and the idea of an uncaused cause.

    It goes from an unsupported notion to a false conclusion, from equivocating the term "beginning", to an unsupported notion that the universe had such absolute beginning. It's a non-sequitur because EVEN IF the universe DID pop into existence out of nothing, it STILL does not "prove" god in any sense.

    No. Occam’s razor states that you should not posit causes beyond necessity. As nothing can come from nothing

    Stop right there- this is EXACTLY what you are claiming. You even said it yourself- CREATIO EX NIHILO. What the hell do you think that means?

    there is a necessity for a cause. That something can come from nothing is worse than magic.

    Nothing prevents the universe from being its own cause, ie a change/redistribution of matter,energy, space.

    In order for something to “cause” something, there must be a moment prior to which it was uncaused.

    False. There is such a thing as simultaneous causation. My favorite example of this is a submerged log, which causes the water to be displaced.

    We've went over this in another discussion previously, in that PREVIOUS to the log being submerged into the water, THE WATER WAS NOT DISPLACED.

    Thus in causation we can speak of a logical succession where there is no temporal succession. I’m actually leaning towards the view that all causation is simultaneous.

    No temporal successions? Yea, because there never was a point where the log was not submerged in water.

    Same goes for “beginning”.

    I interpret the above to say, “In order for something to begin to exist, there must be a moment prior to when it did not exist.” This just illustrates a problem with language. There is no problem conceptually with the universe beginning to exist. By it we simply mean that it was not eternal in the past, but had an absolute origin a finite time ago.

    You highlight your own problem, then try to handwave it away claiming it's just a language issue, when it's not. If it never did not exist, how can you say it ever began to exist? You are not making sense.

  41. TheCraftMan
    TheCraftMan says:

    @Joe,

    No he doesn’t. Did you miss the part where he says that the universe “began” FROM A HOT, DENSE singularity ie NOT a creation? This isn’t the beginning KCA REQUIRES. After that, he SAYS outright that everything “before” that is SPECULATIVE.

    Really? Let's see. The KCA as formulated by Craig.

    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

    2. The universe began to exist.

    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

    Where exactly does KCA require what you're claiming it requires?

    the key word is how. HOW mine relates is with regards to OTHER ARGUMENTS. How an argument about the colour of chair relates directly to the real world.

    This does not resolve the issues raise. (i) All argumentation is abstract. (ii) Your argument is still unsound, per your criterion.

  42. Joe
    Joe says:

    No he doesn’t. Did you miss the part where he says that the universe “began” FROM A HOT, DENSE singularity ie NOT a creation? This isn’t the beginning KCA REQUIRES. After that, he SAYS outright that everything “before” that is SPECULATIVE.

    Really? Let’s see. The KCA as formulated by Craig.

    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

    2. The universe began to exist.

    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

    Where exactly does KCA require what you’re claiming it requires?

    Right where that's an argument for god's existence. Or are you now claiming the cause of the universe is the big bang?

    the key word is how. HOW mine relates is with regards to OTHER ARGUMENTS. How an argument about the colour of chair relates directly to the real world.

    This does not resolve the issues raise. (i) All argumentation is abstract. (ii) Your argument is still unsound, per your criterion.

    My argument isn't about the real world, but about other arguments. That is fully within the abstract category, while you are trying to equivocate that with the argumet about the real world, which DOES require evidence in order for it to be sound.

  43. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Joe,

    What on your view makes Pre-planck cosmology different to post-plank cosmology? I mean, you say pre-plank cosmology is speculative and un-evidenced, but it sounds as if you are willing to accept the predictions of the Big bang model as far back as planck-time. Why is that? Is that portion of the model not speculative? Is it evidenced to your satisfaction, despite your indirect access to the event?

    In sum, what reason do you have for ignoring the predictions of the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem? All I can see thus far is because you think Guth rejects the notion that the universe began to exist? – which is a speculative and un-evidenced assertion – indeed false.

    You have either been intentionally misleading or mistakenly misreading Guth. I've checked the source you provided for the quote bellow;

    There is of course no conclusion that an eternally inflating model must have a unique beginning, and no conclusion that there is an upper bound on the length of all backwards-going geodesics from a given point. There may be models with regions of contraction embedded within the expanding region that could evade our theorem. Aguirre & Gratton have proposed a model that evades our theorem, in which the arrow of time reverses at the t = ?? (minus infinity) hypersurface, so the universe “expands” in both halves of the full de Sitter space.

    That was a disclaimer after presenting the implications of Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem. The the very next line reads;

    Claim: An eternally inflating model of the type usually assumed, which would lead

    to Hav > 0 for past-directed geodesics, cannot be complete.

    In other words, the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem's prediction of an absolute beginning is not unavoidable (for example, what Aguirre & Gratton have proposed), but the eternally inflating model of the type usually assumed is not eternal in the past but requires an absolute beginning (is past-incomplete, and requires a boundary condition in the past).

    This is not highly speculative as you make it out to be, but is based on deceptively simple physical reasoning which holds despite the uncertainty of the descriptions of the pre-planck era.

  44. Joe
    Joe says:

    What on your view makes Pre-planck cosmology different to post-plank cosmology? I mean, you say pre-plank cosmology is speculative and un-evidenced, but it sounds as if you are willing to accept the predictions of the Big bang model as far back as planck-time. Why is that? Is that portion of the model not speculative? Is it evidenced to your satisfaction, despite your indirect access to the event?

    Are you now asking me for the evidence of the big bang itself? Are you seriously asking me this? The redshifts and such which show that the Big Bang happened, but does not say HOW it happened.

    In sum, what reason do you have for ignoring the predictions of the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem? All I can see thus far is because you think Guth rejects the notion that the universe began to exist? – which is a speculative and un-evidenced assertion – indeed false.

    Twisting words again? No, YOU are the one claiming that A model out of many is somehow established when it has not been. I am claiming your claim that because a cosmologist claims an unevidenced view does NOT make it somehow established like you think. Thus far, nothing actually has been established that the universe ever had a beginning.

    You have either been intentionally misleading or mistakenly misreading Guth. I’ve checked the source you provided for the quote bellow;

    There is of course no conclusion that an eternally inflating model must have a unique beginning, and no conclusion that there is an upper bound on the length of all backwards-going geodesics from a given point. There may be models with regions of contraction embedded within the expanding region that could evade our theorem. Aguirre & Gratton have proposed a model that evades our theorem, in which the arrow of time reverses at the t = ?? (minus infinity) hypersurface, so the universe “expands” in both halves of the full de Sitter space.

    That was a disclaimer after presenting the implications of Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem. The the very next line reads;

    Claim: An eternally inflating model of the type usually assumed, which would lead

    to Hav > 0 for past-directed geodesics, cannot be complete.

    And you missed the VERY next line:

    Some new physics (i.e., not inflation) would be needed to

    describe the past boundary of the inflating region. One

    possibility would be a quantum origin.

    In other words, the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem’s prediction of an absolute beginning is not unavoidable (for example, what Aguirre & Gratton have proposed), but the eternally inflating model of the type usually assumed is not eternal in the past but requires an absolute beginning (is past-incomplete, and requires a boundary condition in the past).

    Which doesn't help your case at all, since it just highlights the very problem of ALL pre-planck cosmology. THEY ARE NOT ESTABLISHED. There are SEVERAL issues with virtually all of them, not least of which is that THEY ARE UNEVIDENCED. Whether they be BVG or ekpyrotic, NONE have any evidential support, just speculations.

    This is not highly speculative as you make it out to be, but is based on deceptively simple physical reasoning which holds despite the uncertainty of the descriptions of the pre-planck era.

    Uh, they are all speculative and have the same credibility, which in turn shows how you claiming that BVG shows something is false. It does not, at least not until it is actually established. You fail, sir.

  45. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Joe,

    And you missed the VERY next line:

    Some new physics (i.e., not inflation) would be needed to describe the past boundary of the inflating region. One possibility would be a quantum origin.

    A quantum… what?

    THEY ARE NOT ESTABLISHED. There are SEVERAL issues with virtually all of them (pre-planck cosmologies), not least of which is that THEY ARE UNEVIDENCED.

    I can agree that its speculative. As is all science to some degree. But there is no reason to think that the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem does not give great support to the idea that the universe began to exist a finite time ago. Alexander Vilenkin sates very clearly;

    "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"

    (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176).

  46. Joe
    Joe says:

    A quantum… what?

    origin. Or is it reading comprehension that fails you?

    THEY ARE NOT ESTABLISHED. There are SEVERAL issues with virtually all of them (pre-planck cosmologies), not least of which is that THEY ARE UNEVIDENCED.

    I can agree that its speculative. As is all science to some degree. But there is no reason to think that the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem does not give great support to the idea that the universe began to exist a finite time ago.

    Do all hypotheses give credence to certain notions?

    Alexander Vilenkin sates very clearly;

    “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”

    (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176).

    check down 2 paragraphs:

    Theologians have often welcomed any evidence for the beginning of the universe, regarding it as evidence for the existence of God… So what do we make of a proof that the beginning is unavoidable? Is it a proof of the existence of God? This view would be far too simplistic. Anyone who attempts to understand the origin of the universe should be prepared to address its logical paradoxes. In this regard, the theorem that I proved with my colleagues does not give much of an advantage to the theologian over the scientist. As evidenced by Jinasena’s remarks earlier in this chapter, religion is not immune to the paradoxes of Creation.

    So try again.

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