Please do your best to respond to this post. I won't insult you if you don't insult me.

Cause and effect. How can something come out of nothing? How could the very first thing that happened to start the universe not be effected by anything? It has to go back and back and back until one thing that effected something without being caused. That, I believe, was a god. Can somebody please prove this point wrong?

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@ Cecilia -  look at the world.  Is it not a beautiful and joyful place?  Sometimes?  That's why people say "God is love".  Jesus remains a separate issue, but as for the rest, well... it's probably a historical accident. 

God then is also a vicious predator, a creeping viral infection, and the ravening maw of a black hole. I don't hear Xtians talking about that so much.

Why do you carve out a special exception for the thing you call "god"?  Scientists are no different from you (in one way of looking at it) because they want an explanation.  Your explanation is God.  But scientists use physics and logic and deduction and math.  The end result of that process is far more reliable than simply labeling "that which we do not know" as "god".  So my question to you (and I mean this as a real question; by no means am I trying to insult), is this:  Why do you not dig deeper?

Using your exact same argument, how can you conceive the idea of eternal infinite God coming out of nothing but not the universe itself coming out of nothing?

It's part of and proof of the circular reasoning underlying the argument.  People who think this way don't understand that you can't assume part of your conclusion to be true (i.e., that god is not subject to the same rules) without having proved the conclusion first.  The fact that they do assume part of the conclusion shows that they have implicitly assumed the whole thing to be true all along.

One of the frustrations of arguing about the existence of God is that their belief really isn't on the line. Even if you soundly disprove every "proof" they trot out, don't count on them admitting even that "you might have something there: perhaps He doesn't exist." The reason for this is the importance of faith to religion, especially Christianity. The more you disprove their position with them letting you change their mind, the more they are demonstrating their faith. Thus, most arguments with believers are rather pointless and doomed from the start.

This is so true which is why I find that most of these kinds of arguments are a waste of time and somewhat boring.  Maybe, I suppose, you might plant a seed of unbelief in someone by demonstrating that science does offer answers to this inquiry but the truth is science will run up against the place where we do not yet understand or know and/or the place where what we have come to understand or know only leads to more questions (that is how science goes).   And it is at this place that the theist jumps in with "but I do know and understand, it is god!!"  So, mostly these kinds of arguments are started by theists who think they've found a brilliant "gotcha" argument to convince non-believers of god's existence.  They don't and, frankly, IMO, not much worth engaging.  And, as I've said a couple of times here, the kind of argument/evidence allegedly provided by Isaac's proposal that "something can't come from nothing therefore god" does nothing to support belief in any specific god.  The best the theist arguing this might hope for is to get someone to say okay, I will call that which we do not know or understand about the origins of the universe "god."  But it is a huge, huge leap to get someone to from that concession to  "Praise the Lord, I now accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior!"

The mere fact that a theist must rely on faith or a "leap of faith" to accept or believe a particular god-universe hypothesis undermines the very plausibility of that hypothesis.

Thank you.  I have had a lot of time and motivation to think about these questions.  I find that one of the biggest barriers to communication is the differing assumptions implicit in people's thoughts.  I have learned to try my best to articulate both my own and those of others in the hope that actual communication can begin to occur.

Is it? What sense does it make to talk of material reality that exists apart from the universe? I could say that that belief is a baseless assumption...

It makes sense that other universes or forms of material existence could exist, have existed, or may yet come to exist. This is something that many physicists are exploring. We cannot know either way at this time. Either:

1. You believe that the universe is the beginning of all material reality
2. You believe that the universe is not the beginning of all material reality
3. You believe neither; you make no assumption
4. You believe that it is both the beginning and not the beginning

3 (my view) requires no assumption. 1 (your view) and 2 have no basis. 4 is a contradiction.

Our time? What reasons to you have for thinking that a different kind of time exists?

That there is only "our time" requires the baseless assumption that this in the only universe, space and time which have ever existed, will ever exist, or that currently exist. I neither assume that alternate time does or does not exist. Just like above.

This is only problematic if you are a physicalist, which I'm not. It seems clear to those of us who hold to the existence of the soul that we observe the effects of immaterial beings all the time, not just ‘forces’. (sic)

Unfortunately, "those of [you] who hold to the existence of the soul" worship and have worshiped hundreds of different gods, have hundreds of different, often mutually exclusive interpretations of the same gods, and can't even come to the same conclusions related to the "effects of immaterial beings". In addition, many "[effect] of immaterial beings" which can and have been subjected to empirical testing have been found false or wanting. "Those of [you] who hold to the existence of the soul" are using the wrong methods to come to conclusions. In addition, you came to an atheist forum to argue a specific claim. Saying that "it is only problematic if" to defend your reason for not giving up a belief is useless for convincing others of your belief.

Uncaused since it is the first cause.

You mean "uncaused" since it has no cause. Being the first cause depends on it having no cause, and having caused something, not the other way around.

This isn’t arbitrary, it’s based upon the impossibility of having an actually infinite regress of events.

The infinite regress argument is not persuasive to me. Here is a counter argument against using infinite regress against time and events:
In addition, there can be other forms of regression (imagine cyclical).

If those arguments work, and I’m persuaded that they do, then you must at some point come to a first uncaused cause because you cannot simply go back to infinity.

Even if you accept that their cannot be an infinite regression of events, it still requires the assumption that the existence, state, and/or principles of matter which lead to (i.e. caused) the creation of a universe could not exist without another cause, yet that something (i.e. an agent or being) can exist without a cause, with no evidence or sound logical reason to assume this is the case, except to support a desired belief: a god must have done it. Hence the "arbitrary".

It’s important that you realise that I’m not simply asserting that matter and energy can’t be eternal but god can. I’m not addressing the question of the possibility of eternally existing matter (though the arguments against an infinite regress inveigh against it).

As well as states or principles of existence which could create and act upon them without intelligence? If they are eternal, they do not need a first cause, hence a collapse of infinite regression. By arguing that infinite regression theory prevents this, you ARE arguing that matter and energy (or principles that caused them) cannot be eternal.

The argument isn’t that the cause must be a being because it is powerful – it’s that when you put all five of these together and ask what possesses these qualities, the best explanation is an agent, not an event.

1. None of the descriptive words you used better describe an agent. In fact, in all confirmable observations of agents (i.e. people, animals) these are traits that do not exist, and in fact, these traits are more likely to describe theoretical principles of physics, energy/matter (i.e. the unintelligent), based on observation.
2. These qualities are assembled based on assumptions and faulty logic.

Also, to whoever suggested that you start with this argument to introduce the likely existence of a god, then make connections towards a specific god or gods (i.e. The Trinity, Yahweh, Allah)... you are wrong. Since every interpretation of these gods makes at least one explicit or implied claim which is falsifiable, we simply have to falsify one or more of these claims in order to discredit their interpretation of god. If they have such a liberal interpretation of their god that their are no falsifiable claims made about him then they have already defined their god out of existence. There is no "connection" which can salvage an interpretation of god based on falsified claims.

For a couple of your points (time and material reality) you say that we don’t know if this is the only universe that exists, did exist or will exist. You say that many physicists are exploring these possibilities. I don’t think that’s good enough.

Let me be clear: I am not trying to convince you that it is impossible (or at this time, even unlikely) for a god to exist, but rather you and the OP have tried to persuade the atheists here that it is likely. It does not matter that you don't think its good enough... you are trying to convince others of something for which you have no proof, not the other way around. We are simply replying that your infinite regression argument is not persuasive to us.

You are raising a mere possibility against something that our common sense, experience, and a huge volume of scientific evidence say is the case.

Nope. It is not even a scientific (i.e. testable) question with our current limited understanding/capabilities, and "common sense" doesn't tell us what happened with any form of existence before the universe came to exist. Speculation or being open to possibilities is always better than assumptions.

Until you can do better than mere possibilities I’m perfectly justified in holding to the best explanation thus far. (There are, after all, many physicists exploring the possibility that the universe is fine tuned – are you willing to consider that a valid option?)

What you feel is the best explanation thus far. Nobody has even questioned that you are perfectly justified in holding to your favorite explanation. We're perfectly justified ignoring your explanation without even considering it as you lack tangible evidence or logic with which to convince us to share it.


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