I have chosen some famous arguments to pull apart. First the Cosmological Argument, then the Ontological Argument, and finally the Fine Tuning Argument.
Lets jump into it with the Cosmological Argument (the Argument form Causation). This was Thomas Aquinas' argument. It goes:

Premise 1: There is an order of causes (of existence) in nature.
Premise 2: Nothing can be the cause of itself.
Premise 3: Hence, everything that is caused must be caused by something else.
Premise 4: There cannot be an infinite regress of causes.
Conclusion: Therefore, there must be a first, uncaused cause, which is God.

Personally I would agree with the 4 premises, but the conclusion doesn't follow. Why must there be an uncaused cause? Why must it be God? There is no evidence for God. There is evidence that the Universe (pre-Big Bang) was a tiny dot of energy. This could be the uncaused cause (assuming that there is one). I think that this is due to the lack of knowledge of the Big Bang in Thomas Aquinas' time. In current Cosmology they have found, what is called by the media the "God particle". In scientific communities it is called the Higgs Boson Particle. It is the smallest particle that we have ever discovered and it could help us to explain the origins of the Big Bang (saying it is increasingly possible that an uncaused cause is not necessary). However, Bertrand Russell might ask, why doesn't the first cause need a cause if the Universe needs one? As this argument progressed it was changed into how Dr. Craig presents it today. Which is:

Premise 1: The Universe is not eternal and had an absolute beginning.
Premise 2: Any Universe must have a past space­time boundary.
Premise 3: Even if our universe is part of a multi­verse then that multi­verse must have had an absolute beginning.
Premise 4: There must have been a Transcendent cause for the Universe coming into being.
Premise 5: The Universe began to exist.
Premise 6: If the Universe began to exist, then the universe has a transcendent cause.
Conclusion: The Universe has a transcendent cause.

Where do I start? I would accept premise 1, 2, 3 (although the multiverse has not been proven so I am on the fence on that one), and 5. So that leaves me to object against premise 4, 6, and the conclusion. So lets start at premise 4:

Again, why must there have been a transcendent cause to the Universe? It seems that this little tid-bit just came out of nowhere. For example if I said "There must have been a unicorn that caused the Universe to come into being." It just seems so random. Lets assume that it is not random, it could still be replaced with the pre-Big Bang Universe. It is not transcendent, but rather IS the Universe we live in. We know that the pre-Big Bang Universe created the 'stuff' that we are made of in the Big Bang! So premise 4 should be rewritten as "There must have been a non-transcendent cause for the Universe coming into being."

This being the case it will change the whole argument! But lets take a look at premise 6 individually, and then how our changing of premise 4 acts on premise 6 (spoiler alert: they are the same).

So with premise 6 the transcendent cause is less random because it popped up in premise 4 (so it follows). But, that doesn't make it right. As we can see with scientific research (Hubble's Law and Black Body Radiation to start) there is no identifiable transcendent cause for the Universe to begin to exist. So (as our updated premise 4 would have us believe) premise 6 should be rewritten like this: "If the Universe began to exist, then the universe does not have a transcendent cause."

Let me mention for a second, that there cannot be an infinite progression of things. The Universe had a finite beginning. So why then does it seem that there must be an infinite being behind this? So that this infinite being could cause the Universe to come into existence? Why does it HAVE to be God? The answer - it doesn't. David Hume concluded that this argument is not conclusive proof for God. Hume seems to suggest that the universe might have existed for eternity, and this infinite series does not require an additional cause or explanation that is outside of the series.

If we talk about quantum fluctuations we realize that particles can come from nothing. These particles (and anti-particles) can spontaneously appear and destroy each other without violating the laws of energy conservation. It has been proven that this happens all the time, all around us. So then an argument can follow:

Premise 1: If it is possible that quantum fluctuation can produce particles from nothing, then the Universe could have come from nothing (when it was still extremely small).
Premise 2: It has been proven that quantum fluctuation is possible (and is happening all around us).
Conclusion: The Universe could have come from nothing.

The argument above shows how it is really unnecessary for an uncaused first cause, or a first cause at all. I think that it is quite a scary thing to hear, and naturally many people will fight this notion due to fear or cognitive dissonance.

These two changes really alter the conclusion in the opposite direction of God. If you were to keep the changes I made to premises 4 and 6, but keep the transcendent cause conclusion, it wouldn't follow logically. So the conclusion must be that "The Universe does not have a transcendent cause." The new argument goes like this:

Premise 1: The Universe is not eternal and had an absolute beginning.
Premise 2: Any Universe must have a past space­time boundary.
Premise 3: Even if our universe is part of a multi­verse then that multi­verse must have had an absolute beginning.
Premise 4: There must have been a non-transcendent cause for the Universe coming into being.
Premise 5: The Universe began to exist.
Premise 6: If the Universe began to exist, then the universe does not have a transcendent cause.
Conclusion: The Universe does not have a transcendent cause.

Next up is the Ontological Argument as Anselm of Canterbury uses it:

Premise 1: I have an idea of the greatest conceivable being.
Premise 2: That which exists in reality (and not in my mind) is greater than that which exists in my mind.
Premise 3: If the greatest conceivable being existed only in my mind, then it wouldn't be the greatest conceivable being.
Conclusion: The greatest conceivable being exists in reality.

One funny thing I want to mention about this argument is that Thomas Aquinas (yes the same one that formed the Cosmological Argument) objected to Anselm's Ontological Argument. Aquinas said that we cannot know the nature of God in the way that Anselm is suggesting. I would tend to agree with that, however I would say that if God exists then how is it possible to know his nature at all other than guess work? Further objection from David Hume says that we can't prove the existence of something only using a priori (relating to or denoting reasoning or knowledge that proceeds from theoretical deduction rather than from observation or experience) reasoning. Furthermore, Immanuel Kant said in his Critique of Pure Reason that such necessary propositions are necessarily true only if such a being exists: If a triangle exists, it must have three angles. The necessary proposition, he argued, does not make the existence of a triangle necessary. Thus, he argued that, if the proposition "X exists" is posited, it would follow that, if X exists, it exists necessarily; this does not mean that X exists in reality.

So lets break down this argument piece by piece. I would agree that in premise 1 it is possible to have an idea of a greatest conceivable being, but not premise 2. Premise 2 is not necessarily true. Think about a blank sheet of paper and a pencil. Imagine an intricate design of a building, and then try to draw it out. Another example is pottery. Image a perfect bowl in your head then try to make one. It wont be nearly as good as you imagined. So premise 2 should really look like this, "that which exists in reality (and not in my mind) is not always greater than what exists in my mind."

This change of premise 2 (as we have seen) will change the result of the argument. Looking at premise 3, I would agree that if you could only imagine a greatest conceivable being in your mind then it wouldn't be the greatest conceivable being. That stays, but if we change premise 2 then the conclusion does not follow. In order to change this into a counter-ontological argument, a premise must be added in between premise 3 and the conclusion. It would look like this, "I can only think of the greatest conceivable in my mind."

going off of the change that I made, along with the added premise the conclusion would be, "the greatest conceivable being only exists in my mind, and not in reality." So now we have:

Premise 1: I have an idea of the greatest conceivable being.
Premise 2: That which exists in reality (and not in my mind) is not always greater than that which exists in my mind.
Premise 3: If the greatest conceivable being existed only in my mind, then it wouldn't be the greatest conceivable being.
Premise 4: I can only think of the greatest conceivable in my mind.
Conclusion: The greatest conceivable being exists in my mind and not in reality.

This would make it seem as though this being is a delusion of sorts. I will not say more on this argument, but will move onto the other one.

The Fine Tuning Argument as Dr. Craig presents it in his debate with Dr. Rosenberg:

Premise 1: The fine tuning of the Universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
Premise 2: It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
Conclusion: it is due to design.

This is a much smaller argument, but lets try to dissect it. I agree with premise 1 in that it is probable that one of those three caused the existence for the Universe. Craig's defense is that it simply makes more sense that a 'designer' created the Universe so it can't be physical necessity or chance. He also says that we are so complex that the human mind cannot comprehend the initial conditions of the Big Bang. This isn't bad proof, it is no proof at all and it neglects that there are human minds working on figuring this out (hence the Higgs-boson particle). Human minds CAN figure this out as they have figured out other things that religion says is impossible for us to comprehend (epilepsy, the origin of man, the age of the earth/universe, etc.). I would say that you could substitute physical necessity for design and make a much better argument. For example we have proof of the laws of physics. For example, gravity. We know gravity exists, however it is an imperfection in the Universe. If God is perfect, why then does gravity exist? In the early Universe gravity was an imperfection that caused everything we know to exist (allowed for the formation of stars and planets). So this points more toward physical necessity, so it follows:

Premise 1: The fine tuning of the Universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
Premise 2: It is not due to design or chance.
Conclusion: it is due to physical necessity.

This is good argument, but that doesn't make it true. Physical necessity is the best possible answer to why the Universe began to exist. Think about design, this designer would have to have made EVERYTHING in the Universe. The problem with intelligent design is the intelligent part. The human anatomy is a good place to go to for an example. We'll take the appendix for an example. The human body has no purpose for the appendix. It does rupture and cause a lot of pain and a hefty hospital bill. There is no intelligent purpose for the appendix to be in the human body. Surely an intelligent designer wouldn't put such a useless organ in an intelligent being. Why is there an appendix? It once had a purpose, but EVOLUTION made it so that the appendix is now useless, but still there. If you want to argue that this has no bearing on the actual Universe, ok. Let's talk about the Universe. This also has flaws that an intelligent designer would not put in it. The Universe, you may be interested to know, is not perfect like one may be led to think. One of those things is the force that we call gravity. After the Big Bang the gasses were spread evenly on the early Universe. It was this imperfection we call gravity that allowed for everything we know to exist. It is the force that held the early earth together, and allows for stars to exist as well. Black holes are also something that an intelligent designer would not put in a decently ran Universe. They are literally rips in the fabric of space and time. They are extremely destructive, not even light can escape a black hole. Why would a creator allow for such things? Answer: a creator wouldn't.

Views: 112

Comment by Mabel on March 28, 2013 at 8:24pm

Let me mention for a second, that there cannot be an infinite progression of things.

@ Real Life James Bond - Why not?

Comment by Real Life James Bond on March 28, 2013 at 9:06pm
That was the argument Thomas Aquinas made.
Comment by Mabel on March 28, 2013 at 9:06pm

Okay, thanks.

Comment by Real Life James Bond on March 28, 2013 at 9:08pm
I would agree with it because for there to be a beginning it cannot have gone on forever. The Universe also had a finite beginning (the Big Bang). If there is a study that you saw that says otherwise I would love to see it.
Comment by Mabel on March 28, 2013 at 9:21pm

I don't know a lot about these kinds of things. All I know is when a theist tells me God always was I tell them they perceive of God as a thing so why can't I perceive of some other thing that always was instead of a God? For example, whatever it was that existed before the big bang could have been a substance (besides a God) that always existed. Why should their perception be any more valid than mine?

Comment by Real Life James Bond on March 28, 2013 at 9:26pm
Ah I see! Well yes, the arguments I present above are those of Thomas Aquinas and various other Philosophers. I make the argument that you make. It was not God who made the Universe but perhaps something else. I argue that it could have been a quantum fluctuation (which is just two particles that come from nothing and collide to destroy each other). It has been proven that this happens all the time and all around us. So that is just one possibility that is far more likely and proven than God. God cannot be proven by anything other than faith.
Comment by Mabel on March 28, 2013 at 9:30pm

I argue that it could have been a quantum fluctuation (which is just two particles that come from nothing and collide to destroy each other).

@ Real Life James Bond - How can something come from nothing or did you just mean the particles came from something very simple that is practically nothing?

Comment by Real Life James Bond on March 28, 2013 at 9:35pm
Comment by Mabel on March 28, 2013 at 9:42pm

I have a Youtube clip of Richard Dawkins talking about the universe coming from nothing and he corrects himself and says something like "well it's not actually nothing. It's something very simple". That's why I asked you the question like I did. I remembered him saying that. If you want me to give you the link and place where he says it, I can pretty easily do that.

Comment by Real Life James Bond on March 28, 2013 at 9:43pm
Lawrence Krauss would argue otherwise

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