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A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. Highlighted words lead to other posts almost all in my blog. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family (1950's) and went to Orthodox Yeshiva from kindergarten thru High School plus some Beis Medrash.Became an agnostic in my 20's and an atheist later on. My blog will discuss the arguments for god and Orthodox Judaism and will provide counter arguments. I no longer take comments. My blog uses academic sources, the Torah, Talmud and commentators to justify my assertions. The posts get updated. INDEX OF POSTS SEE MAY 2017 or click link above.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Kalam Cosmological Proof of God - Premises and Conclusion repudiated

Updated Thru 1/23/2016  12/27/2016

A common formulation of the Argument:

Premise 1) Everything that began to exist has a cause for its existence

Premise 2) the universe began to exist

Conclusion 3) therefore, the universe had a cause for its existence.

This argument can be repudiated for theological reasons see Kalam Cosmological proof of God repudiated by Theology

However this post will focus on the legitimacy of the premises and conclusion. 

On The Reasonableness of  Premise 1

There are quantum events which are random so there does not seem to be causes for them. For example a particle may come into being out of a vacuum, and this process seems to be random. 
Another example is radioactive decay - when the energy level of a nucleus drops, it emits a photon. It is a probabilistic process.

Many things that began to exist do not seem to have a cause. For example, I weave a coat. The cause can be me, but who caused me ? My parents, But then who caused my parents ? And we have not even begun to ask about the material for the coat. The point is there are many things we observe that are in transition from one form into another or have no discernible cause. Arguably, is there really anything we observe that actually begins to exist ?

Even if our every day experience confirms Premise 1 it would only  apply to our everyday experiences which involves parts of the Universe. However, we have no experience with entire Universes to claim  such a system needs a cause. A bar of soap can be made from fats,sodium hydroxide and water. The behavior of soap differs greatly from its constituents. Thus 'Kalam's conclusion' does not follow from the premises. Stated another way, the word “Everything” in Premise 1 is too comprehensive.

On the Reasonableness of Kalam Premise 2  

There are many cosmologists that do not agree the Universe began to exist. Some  have offered models with our Universe not having a beginning. Examples include cyclic models, Caroll and Chen model and others.

Professor of Physics Sean Carroll - Beginning on page 50 of From Eternity to Here:  "It might be that the Universe did not exist before the Big Bang [BB], just as conventional general relativity seems to imply. Or it might very well be - as I tend to believe, for reasons that will become clear - that space and time did exist before the BB; what we call the BB is a kind of transition from one phase to another."   "The correct deduction is not that general relativity predicts a singularity, but that general relativity predicts that the universe evolves into a configuration where  general relativity itself breaks down."

Professor of Physics Victor Stenger is also of the opinion that the Universe need not have had a beginning. ( See for example page 73 of his book Quantum Gods 2009)

Also Stenger in his book God and the Folly of Faith 2012 - beginning on page 178  Regarding the oft cited Borde, Guth Vilenkin Theorem he explains as follows. "Again, this theorem is derived from general relativity and so is inapplicable to the issue of origins. Furthermore it is disputed by other authors [he cites Aguirre, Gratton as examples]." 
Stenger also explains - " I asked Vilenkin personally if his theorem requires a beginning. His email reply: "No. But it proves that the expansion of the Universe must have had a beginning. You can evade the theorem by postulating the the Universe was contracting prior to some time". This is exactly what a number of existing models for the uncreated origin of our Universe do." 

{ETA 1/3/2016 Page 143-148 in Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism Petto and Godfrey Editors 2007.  Physics Professor Victor Stenger - "Several cosmological scenarios have been published by established scholars in reputable scientific journals that allow for a universe to appear as an uncaused quantum event from an initial state of zero energy (Akatz and Pagels 1982;...).  "It is conventional to label the time of the Big Bang as t=0. However, nothing we know demands that this was the beginning of time..., or that no universe existed at earlier times."
"No scientific basis exists for assuming a universe did not exist before the Big Bang" }

{ETA 1/23/2016  http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2012/04/28/a-universe-from-nothing/

April 28, 2012 by Sean Carroll -  A Universe from Nothing? "...the physical universe can perfectly well be self-contained; it doesn’t need anything or anyone from outside to get it started, even if it had a “beginning.”  " }


In short, our knowledge of the very early Universe is uncertain enough that Premise 2 is in doubt. 

The Kalam’s Conclusion

For discussion purposes 1,2,3 below accept the premises  and assume the logic of the Kalam is sound. There are the following objections to concluding that the Kalam proves a God.

1) We can only  infer the universe has a cause; a cause of the kind as found in Premise 1. And Premise 1 causes must occur within time and space, since we have no knowledge of causes external to time and space. This I think would preclude a Judaeo-Islamic-Christian god.

2) We can only  infer the universe has a cause, not that the cause is some version of a Judaeo-Islamic-Christian god. The cause may be a monster. Consider life on earth operates on the concept of mutual consumption, and in common parlance the survival of the fittest. Also the earth with all it’s natural disasters and difficult conditions is a very inhospitable and dangerous place for living things.

3) Even if we can not provide a cause for the Universe, claiming  God is the cause is called the God of the Gaps Fallacy. 

4) Finally, the cause need not be something supernatural. It may have been a quantum fluctuation or quantum tunneling or some other natural phenomenon. (See for example Hartle-Hawking or Krauss or Carroll-Chen or Aguirre-Gratton or Stenger or Vilenkin for natural explanations of the Universe). Perhaps as scientists resolve the science in the very early universe the cause may become apparent.

"Most modern cosmologists are convinced that conventional scientific progress will ultimately result in a self-contained understanding of the origin and evolution of the universe, without the need to invoke God or any other supernatural involvement." ( Does the Universe Need God? Professor Sean Carroll, California Institute of Technology)

{ETA 12/27/2016  From Seven Brief Lessons on Physics By Carlo Rovelli 2014, 2016. The Theoretical Physicist Carlo is one of the founders of Loop Quantum Gravity Theory (LQG). Beginning on page 39 - Einstein developed relativity  to resolve the conflict between the equations of electromagnetism and mechanics. Today there is a conflict between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. A group of researchers are working on reconciling the conflict thru Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG). Consider a star as it begins to run out of fuel and starts to collapse. Per Loop Quantum Gravity infinitesimal points/singularities don’t exist, so the star’s matter will only condense up to a point (called a Planck Star) wherein  quantum fluctuations of space-time balance the weight of matter.  But a Planck star is not stable and it can then begin to expand again. When our Universe was extremely compressed, quantum theory generates a repulsive force and this can create a Big Bang. Thus our  Universe may have been born from a preceding Universe that compressed under it’s own weight into a tiny space before expanding into the Universe we observe.  

[LQG can provide a natural explanation why the BB occurred and what existed before the BB. So we need not posit a God to start the BB.]}


{ETA 6/15/2014 Why is there something rather than nothing ? Maybe the "something" (for example quantum fields) always existed.  Also, some Cosmologists are finding that our Universe may really be nothing because the energy and matter in the Universe is offset by gravity giving just about nothing.} 

{ETA 6/18/2014 There are so called “laws of nature”. Does not a law require a law giver ?

Scientists tell us the laws such as conservation of energy, mass, momentums are a consequence of certain symmetries. For example there is no privileged place regarding when and where physics experiments are performed. 

The human legal system was created by humans, this does not mean physical laws require a giver. It is a false analogy since we have experience concerning the origins legal  laws but not physic laws.

According to some Cosmologists the “laws of nature” could have been different. For example certain multiverse theories.

If there are laws of nature they just could have always just been.

Finally, saying God gave us the laws is the god of the gaps fallacy. }


Here are related posts Kalam Cosmological proof of God repudiated by Theology,  Proof of God From the Big BangGenesis and the Big Bang , Proof of God from Thermodynamics

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