Wednesday, 28 January 2015

What's wrong with the Kalam Cosmological Argument?


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The Kalam argument is essentially that every action has a cause, and that an infinite set of cause/effect events can only stretch from an exact starting point into the future (e.g if yesterday you launched a rocket into space on an infinite journey).  It proposes we cannot have an infinite number of events in the past because the current event will always be waiting for an infinite number of prior events to complete.

Any amount of events could logically occur, even an infinite amount of events, if they all occurred at the same time. The important clause in the infinite regression argument is that because we are looking for a cause of the universe these must be cause/effect events, so A must always initiate (but not necessarily complete) before B is initiated, and so on. No matter how small an amount of time elapses between the initiations of A and B it will always be above zero.  Therefore it will always take an infinite amount of time to perform an infinite amount of cause/effect actions, because any number above zero (time) multiplied by an infinity is also an infinity. Effectively we end up waiting for an infinite past to expire before "now" can arrive, and it would seem, at least intuitively, that this cannot happen.

William Lane Craig (and thus Hamza) use this as an argument to claim there must have been an initial cause that was itself not caused.  In this way we could have a finite starting point and can reach the event in question (in this case the big bang). If the initial cause was some intelligent agent that decided to create the universe then the first action occurred 13.8 billion years ago and took 13.8 billion years worth of cause/effect events to get to point when I would start to write this post.  No previous cause is required because it was a decision that started the events from a fixed point and not a previous cause/effect event.

These proponents use the term "infinite regression of events" because they need to hide the fact that it is actually the infinite amount time that is the problem.  They convert a non-action into a first action by invoking an intelligent agent which makes the decision to act.  Using "total number of events" as a unit of measurement the sequence can be initiated with a non-physical event (a decision) and thus provide a termination to avoid a historical infinity. When using time as a unit of measurement the same trick cannot be employed, because there will always be an amount of time between the decision and the action, and also an amount of time before the decision itself.  Using the terminology of events is an attempt to avoid the question "So how long did this intelligent agent exist for before creating the universe?"

When asked this question the answer always seems to be the claim that the agent is eternal. The use of the word "eternal" here is to avoid saying the agent existed forever, because that is an infinite amount of time and we end up with the same infinite regression problem.

The use of the word "eternal" instead suggests that the agent is somehow able to "exist" in a kind of timeless dimension, and in doing removes the necessity of it having to exist for an impossibly infinite amount of time before it created the universe.  So here the proponents of this argument sacrifice the existence of time itself, and have it appear as part of the creation of the universe.

So now the proponents have argued that there is no infinite regression of events, just 13.8 billion years worth, and they have also argued that there is no infinite regression of time because the intelligent agent was without time. However this just leads to a different problem, did this agent have any choice but to create the universe?

In order to have free will one must be at a point where there is a choice to make from numerous options. In this case the options would be to create or not create a universe (putting aside the incalculable options of what form it should take). Importantly, to have free will, the agent must then be able to make a decision based on those options.

The problem is that you must have the options before making the choice, there needs to be a logical precedence in order for free will to work, it essentially boils down to cause/effect of an intelligent source where the cause is the choice and the effect is the intelligent decision that was made.  That is where the problem is, to have cause/effect, even of an intelligent kind, you need time!

Without time either nothing happens, or everything happens at once in a non-deterministic way. How can an intelligence non-deterministically determine how to create a universe?  Did the universe not spring into existence at all because nothing happens in a timeless dimension? Obviously not!

So if everything in a timeless dimension happens at once then this requires the decision to create the universe, to exist simultaneously with the choice of whether or not to create one at all, while simultaneously the universe is already in existence.

If this agent created time before the initial state of the universe in order to avoid the paradox of the universe seed both existing and not existing simultaneously, it just moves the problem to time itself. Time itself would simultanously exist and not exist in this timeless dimension, and then not even as an effect of an intelligent decision to create it.

Without time there can be no logical sequence of evaluating options, making a choice, and then actioning that choice. These are essential for the freedom of will and freedom to act.  Without freewill and/or freedom to act this intelligent agent is impotent, its intelligence is redundant.  Powerful non-intelligent events are called "nature", rendering the existence of the universe an unknown (and very perplexing) natural event.

With time in this dimension there can be no way this intelligent agent can exist for an infinite duration. Without time the agent is irrelevant.

One thing seems pretty certain, and that is 13.8 billion years ago the universe was very tiny. There is no evidence to suggest the universe didn't exist prior to this time, we only know it existed in a different form. We don't even know it started to expand at that point in time, we just know that at a certain point in time it was expanding at a rate we could actually measure.

To even say there is evidence the universe was "created" or "began to exist" is wrong, and all of the logical fallacies built on top of this erroneous basis which require a complex reality of timeless realms are worthless on account that they are both unprovable and unfalsifiable.

7 comments:

  1. "No matter how small an amount of time elapses between the initiations of A and B it will always be above zero. Therefore it will always take an infinite amount of time to perform an infinite amount of cause/effect actions, because any number above zero (time) multiplied by an infinity is also an infinity."

    The reasoning here is flawed. An infinite sum of finite terms can still sum to a finite amount. Take for example the sum 1 +1/2+1/4+1/8+.... Here you have an infinite set of numbers which sums to a finite number (2).

    This implies that you can have an infinite regress of causes in a finite time. The cause of conditions 1 sec after the Big Bang could be the state of the Universe at 0.5 secs, in turn caused by the state of the Universe at 0.25 secs etc. Under this scheme, there is no first cause to the Universe, any state of affairs can be explained using a time preceding it. And all of this can occur after t=0 (which is simply the convergent limit).

    Its lazy reasoning on the part of WLC and his ilk that an infinite causal regress requires an infinite time. Its simply not true. In Zeno's paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise, Achilles manages to traverse an infinite number of finite distances and eventually catches up to and overtakes the tortoise. This is because the sum of those infinite distances (and consequently the time taken to traverse them) is finite.

    This leaves open the question, of course, what caused t=0? If that question has any meaning, its not subject to the Kalam reasoning in any event, since it commits the fallacy of composition - that which is true for the parts is not necessarily true for the whole. Also, most Kalam practitioners trace back along a causal chain through history until they reach t=0, but as we can see, there's no guarantee that we can't have an infinite causal chain within in finite history.

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  2. ..this is only under the assumption that time is continuous and not discrete. If it were discrete, there would be a minimum time required for a cause to occur. If that minimum time was the Planck time then by the same token, causality has no meaning at this scale so the Kalam is outside scope. Afaik, experiments have yet to show any evidence for any discretisation of time (it would be impossible to show through direct experiment that time was continuous - you could only ever arrive at an experimental limit).

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  3. "Take for example the sum 1 +1/2+1/4+1/8+.... Here you have an infinite set of numbers which sums to a finite number (2)."

    Actually it doesn't. The value will become increasingly close to 2 but never get there despite having the benefit of an infinite number of steps.

    "This implies that you can have an infinite regress of causes in a finite time"

    Apart from your premise being wrong it seems you are also confusing the way Zeno's Paradox works. What Zeno's paradox proves is that you can divide a finite number an infinite number of times without it ever reaching zero. It doesn't demonstrate that you can add an infinite number of quantities and reach X where X > 0.

    If you take the number 1 you can divide it by 2 an infinite number of times. Each time it will get twice as close to zero but it will never actually reach it.

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  4. The 'sum' of an infinite convergent series is defined as its limit. Google 'definition of sum of an infinite series' .

    Obviously whether or not I call it a 'sum' or a 'blarg' makes no difference, you still have an infinite number of finite length causes in a finite term.

    On Zeno's Paradox, the modern mathematical resolution is straightforwardly done using convergent infinite series, but there are philosophical issues which remain unresolved.

    I don't know how familiar you are with infinite series and Zeno's paradox, but you might enjoy this 12 min video on it (worth it for the way he pronounces 'tortoise'!)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7Z9UnWOJNY

    As it is, your objections haven't actually addressed my central point, which is that you can have an infinite regress of causes in a finite time (as I demonstrated).

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  5. I think it is a simple problem in the sense that the Kalam argument is begging the question.

    Consider the first line, 'Everything that begins to exist must have a cause." Apart from the obvious question,"why?' That in truth is never satisfactorily answered by WLC or Hamster, the implicit inference is that things can be divided up into two categories of those that begin to exist and those that don't.

    WLC is very careful to position the material universe as coming into being at the point of the big bang. This is a kingpin of his argument. Even concepts and thought as things have to be placed as either a facet of a creator so part of god and not a separate thing or as coming into being with the spacetime continuum, in WLC's conception.

    So what is the problem?

    When we look at the two lists we are left with an almost infinite list of things that come into existence because we have to include the things yet to exist so the list expands in the forward direction of time but the list of things that didn't begin to exist is rather small.

    Only god, in WLC's world view. If we change the first Line of KALAM to accommodate this revelation, teehee, a more honest statement would be, 'everything that is not eternal must have a cause." Stated like this Kalam is exposed as the tautology that it really is, let's put it more simply,

    'Everything that is not god must have had a cause." This is a more honest way of presenting the rigged dice.

    I think a simpler criticism though, is that when the earliest humans looked up into the sky at the multitude of stars in the milky way wondering what it was the question they would have asked themselves is, 'why do I or does this exist?' not why did I or this begin to exist, and for this reason it is clear that the Kalam formulation whilst being the most common Philosophical early formulation written down bears the architecture of the monotheistic theological crucible in which it was formulated.

    In an earlier polytheistic world this formulation would have made little sense, the earlier question almost certainly is Why does anything exist. KALAM is a corruption of an earlier more honest sentiment because it is constructed with the presumption of it's answer hard wired into its first clause.

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  6. Logically complete cosmological concept. /due to lack of knowledge of the English language was not able to correct the translation Implemented by Google/
    In order to present the unlimited space originally Elementary:
    1. variety (homogeneous) сompleted - enough to postulate the presence in it of two elements with SIMPLE and COMPLEX /closed systematically manifested the essence/
    2. heterogeneous completed - enough to postulate the presence in it of one more element - the Most High and Almighty God - with open exhibited systemic nature.
    Not hard to imagine that even at the lowest possible deployment intangible components the nature of God - the Spirit of God - for the level of the original downwardly directed continuous deployment the material component of the essence of God, there is a curtailment of SIMPLE and COMPLEX /i.e.. their decay occurs due to blocking of origin upwardly directed constantly deploy components of their intangible essences/, as the maximum possible heterogeneous nature of God to the minimum possible number of cell uniformity (№1h) and God on the basis of the material components of the minimum possible №1 deploys heterogeneous to its essence as possible numerical element uniformity (№2H). The process of clotting №2H begins at a certain point in time God begins at the end of its deployment. Curtailment of the Spirit of God to the level of initial deployment again unfolds №1H - God's potential for transformation into a №1H in №2H and №1H in №2H limitless!

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  7. Logically complete cosmological concept. /due to lack of knowledge of the English language was not able to correct the translation Implemented by Google/
    In order to present the unlimited space originally Elementary:
    1. variety (homogeneous) сompleted - enough to postulate the presence in it of two elements with SIMPLE and COMPLEX /closed systematically manifested the essence/
    2. heterogeneous completed - enough to postulate the presence in it of one more element - the Most High and Almighty God - with open exhibited systemic nature.
    Not hard to imagine that even at the lowest possible deployment intangible components the nature of God - the Spirit of God - for the level of the original downwardly directed continuous deployment the material component of the essence of God, there is a curtailment of SIMPLE and COMPLEX /i.e.. their decay occurs due to blocking of origin upwardly directed constantly deploy components of their intangible essences/, as the maximum possible heterogeneous nature of God to the minimum possible number of cell uniformity (№1h) and God on the basis of the material components of the minimum possible №1 deploys heterogeneous to its essence as possible numerical element uniformity (№2H). The process of clotting №2H begins at a certain point in time God begins at the end of its deployment. Curtailment of the Spirit of God to the level of initial deployment again unfolds №1H - God's potential for transformation into a №1H in №2H and №1H in №2H limitless!

    ReplyDelete