Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First Cause

I consider the Cosmological Argument the best argument for a creator God. Given the theme of this blog, I don’t consider it a particularly good argument, but it is the best none the less. What follows is the most fair, if not conclusive, rebuttal I have to give.

The argument from the origin of the universe, or the Cosmological Argument dates back to the beginning of apologetics. If you are interested in the history, Google it. I plan on skipping ahead to the modern version of the argument sometimes called the Kalam cosmological argument.

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The Universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the Universe had a cause.

This form of the argument is meant to avoid the easy dismissal of “if everything that exists needs to have a cause, then what caused God?” and the fallacies associated with it. It is implied that God did not begin to exist while the universe did.

It is one of those rare cases that a scientific discovery seemingly hurt the atheistic position. It is hard to argue that the universe did not begin to exist after the Big Bang Theory. Luckily, there are still multiple avenues of rebuttal.

  • There is no evidence that there is a God, eternal or otherwise, other than the universe’s existence. (If you consider the other arguments that apologists pose as further evidence, stay tuned, I will take them on in future posts.) The idea of a willful, intelligent, universally powerful entity is an extraordinary claim--which, according to Carl Sagan who I happen to agree with, requires extraordinary evidence. At best, God is a hypothesis that can’t be tested, makes no predictions, and contributes little to explaining how we came to be.
  • There are other ideas in theoretical physics that could account for the cause of the Big Bang. For example, the theory of Loop Quantum Gravity says that our universe was preceded by an identical, reversed universe that contracted into the singularity that expanded into our universe. There are multiple theories involving the notion of a multiverse, including one where ours is just a bubble universe that emerged from quantum foam. Actually, the word “quantum” comes up a lot, which is a hard concept to sell to someone who believes the much simpler idea of a creator. None of these theories have much hard evidence behind them, but the fact that we have found elementary particles that pop in and out of existence and can possibly travel through time, makes them all stand on a better foundation of reality than a supreme being existing outside of space and time.
  • God would have to exist outside space and time and we have no evidence that there is such a place. The downside of the updated Kalam cosmological argument is the same as it’s advantage--taking into account the Big Bang. The Big Bang did not only explode out matter and energy, but also space and time. It’s not accurate to think of “before the Big Bang” because chronologically “before” didn’t exist. To be an atheist, you only need to accept that the universe either didn’t have a cause, was self-caused, or has a natural cause that we don’t yet understand. To be a theist, you need to accept a variety of magical concepts.
  • To posit God is explaining one mystery with another mystery. To most believer’s the buck stops at God, there is no point in trying to understand anything further, because we can’t know the Mind of God. As a proponent of science, I prefer to increase humanity’s collective knowledge and learn more about reality. It is the drive that got us to the moon, split the atom and, like it or not, is making the world more secular. Stopping with God gets us the dark ages. If you insist in believing God did all this, don’t sit on your laurels, find some way to prove it. If you don’t, science will prove you wrong.


  1. Allow me to play God's advocate.  You said, "Stopping with God gets us the dark ages".  Are pursuing truth or are you trying wage a smear campaign against theism?

    By the way, I like the blog!

    1. Pursuing truth.

      Letting God be the answer for things we don't understand means that we don't need to pursue discovery any further. For example if we say:

      We already know why we are complex life forms, it is because we are designed by God.

      Then there is no reason to explore evolution because it can only hope to explain something we already have an "explanation" for.

      That's what I mean by dark ages--times when real discovery stops.

      And thanks.

  2. I went through this same argument with a cocky theist on Hausdorff's
    blog. WLC adds the premise that the cause is God. This guy was kind of a douche and couldn't see how terrible the argument is. I think I just replaced that cause being God as something else and I restated the argument.

    1. Whoops! I realized that I replaced that argument in another post of Hausdorff's to that same guy.

  3. I think the simplest objection to the Kalam is that it's full of equivocation. Causality is a physical phenomenon that acts according to the laws of physics (and it really doesn't even apply at quantum scales). So it doesn't make any sense to talk about causality if there's no physical universe to govern it. This objection was brought to WLC in a Q&A of his, and he basically said, "Oh, but you see, my definition of causality includes non-physical causality."

    When Stephen Hawking said that it doesn't make sense to talk about the universe beginning to exist because something can only begin to exist with respect to time, WLC mocked the objection and basically "Of course, as long as you're only talking about physical time... but what about non-physical time?"

    Well, what the hell are non-physical time and causality? Did he explicitly state those things in the premises, or just equivocate later on to retrofit them into the argument? You can't base a deductive argument on the hypothetical existence of speculative things.

    The Big Bang, btw, only shows that the *observable* universe had a beginning within the framework of General Relativity. It doesn't prove creation ex nihilo like the theologians claim it does.

    1. Sigh.. Talking with theists about versions of this argument can be really frustrating. I've been going back and fourth with one on Hausdorff's Blog. I can't get this guy to understand why his argument begs the question. Many of his responses to my posts have been (sic)"well, you just don't get it because I am too smart for you" or (sic) "You just don't understand the subtlety of the argument." Damn its annoying!