The Great Big Arguments #3: Cosmological

“My aim is make this a reference for any subsequent “origin” questions.”

Question:
This is the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God, in the form of the popular Kalam Cosmological Argument:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe had a cause.
Following on from that, the cause of the universe must have been eternal and therefore without cause. Besides being eternal, this Uncaused Cause must have been all-powerful and all-knowing, as it literally created everything else. It must be God.

Answer:
My aim is make this a reference for any subsequent “origin” questions.

The Cosmological Argument or Argument from First Cause is the proper form of the common argument that the universe must have been deliberately created, and you can’t get “something from nothing”. It predates Christianity, as Plato and Aristotle had their own versions.

That’s the first issue with the argument: it only attempts to prove the existence of a Creator. It is therefore a deist argument, so when a theist uses it to prove a specific god with no further logic it’s a step too far. Keep an eye out for this.

The basic premise that everything finite requires a cause is the least controversial part, but even this isn’t rock solid. Possible exceptions are found in quantum mechanics, where particles move about in a probabilistic fashion. Until observed, a particle may be anywhere in a small area, and in a sense is everywhere in the area. When you observe it, it picks one spot and stays there. This is of course a gross oversimplification, but the point is that there’s no known force moving the particles around. There may actually be no cause as such, and the universe may be far more spontaneous than we think.

Even “something from nothing” is plausible according to a related theory that “nothing” is really a quantum foam from which matter may emerge. This is purely theoretical at the moment (it makes mathematical sense, but there’s not much physical evidence), but it’s worth remembering that science is actually considering ways like this in which matter could just pop out of “nothing”. It can’t be dismissed entirely.

Causality may also be irrelevant if time wasn’t linear at the beginning, if it had a beginning. An effect must follow its cause, but this is meaningless if chronological order hasn’t settled down yet.

The universe is widely regarded by lay people (who aren’t young-earth creationists) to have begun with the Big Bang. This may seem counterintuitive – how can something be created by an explosion instead of destroyed? – but it was no ordinary explosion. All the matter and energy in the universe was compressed into a singularity, a point so small it had no volume at all. (Absurd as this sounds, it happens today with large amounts of matter in the centres of black holes.) Then it expanded outwards, and it’s still expanding to this day. Once the matter was in that singularity, nothing was created or destroyed, only distrubuted.

How did the matter get in there? Was the Big Bang the true beginning, or a continuation of something else? We haven’t a clue. A god is one hypothesis. Other universes, with their own separate systems of time and space, are another. The quantum foam is an outside chance. Who knows what else we haven’t thought of.

I like the idea of a multiverse, an eternal group or series of universes setting each other off. It’s got one up on gods because it’s multiple instances of a known object. We know there’s at least one universe (this one), while we don’t have a single example of an established god. If you see a huge cabbage patch where the whole crop’s been eaten, and you find one fat little rabbit in the corner, do you assume that Bigfoot must have done most of the damage? No, you wonder where all the other rabbits are hiding.

The theory of expansion and contraction, of many Big Bangs and Big Crunches, has fallen apart recently with the discovery that the expansion of the universe is apparently accelerating. That means it will never return to the singularity, and it is not cyclical in the way we thought. That doesn’t stop it from being cyclical in other ways, for example stretching until it tears a hole and then draining out to somewhere else.

The point is that if you do accept that everything finite must have a cause, something must be eternal. Either it’s the universe/multiverse, or it’s a god. There are many theories, and potentially many more, which allow for an eternal universe which needs no cause. Therefore an eternal god is not the only option, and anything which says so is a poor attempted proof of its existence.

SmartLX

Note: The argument that a god created the universe based on the universe’s nature, order, awesomeness, etc. is not related to causality. It’s the Argument from Design, which is next on the GBA hitlist.

15 thoughts on “The Great Big Arguments #3: Cosmological”

  1. 1. The purpose of this arguments is to allow people to accept that the being as a cause of the universe exists as you know. So whether the being is God of Christian is not matter yet as you know.
    2. You mentioned like this :
    the point is that there’s no known force moving the particles around. There may actually be no cause as such, and the universe may be far more spontaneous than we think

    That there is no known force moving the particle around doesn’t imply that there is no cause as such.

    3. Whether the quantum foam is really “nothing” or not is debatable.

  2. Hi pqqrpr. Is there a phonetic pronunciation for that? Because there are some unpleasant possibilities lurking in those letters.

    1. True, the argument does not attempt to establish the Christian God or any other specific deity. Many Christians use it and then jump straight to arguments about Jesus to advocate their own god. Other Christians use the cosmological argument and then assert that theirs is the real god without backing it up at all.
    2. True, it’s not certain that there is no cause for quantum-level actions. Until it’s resolved one way or the other, however, it cannot be assumed as a premise that everything does have a cause, which is fundamental to the cosmological argument.
    3. True again, but even if the quantum foam isn’t nothing it may well be as eternal and uncaused as God is supposed to be.

  3. You have stated some interesting “ideas” (nothing is “quantum foam”) and the possibility of “multiverses”. These are simply imaginary ideas with no evidence. Yes, there are many “theories….which allow for an eternal universe which needs no cause” but is there any evidence for any of them? All the evidence points to the fact that the universe had a beginning. The universe is expanding and running out of usable energy. Even the great scientist Einstein after painstakingly trying to make the universe be eternal realized that his theory of general relativity was indeed true and proved that time, space and matter came into existence at the same time. Which is more reasonable: Someone created everything out of nothing, or no one created everything out of nothing?

    1. That’s a nice reply by Tim, but I’ll add the simple point that all the evidence that supports the idea of the Big Bang does not tell us whether it was a true beginning or a continuation, a creation or a rearrangement.

  4. Sharon writes: [Which is more reasonable: Someone created everything out of nothing, or no one created everything out of nothing?]

    If we ask if some thing created everything out of nothing, haven’t we really just pushed the question back a step? Because now we are left with the question of what created the thing, instead of what created the universe. We haven’t solved anything, we’ve merely put it off a little while.

    At this point a creationist might say that the thing, in their case a divine entity, has just always existed. The problem with that. of course, is that it is highly illogical. Something that has always existed can’t arrive at the point in time to create a universe. You can’t get from infinity to now. So a goddess that has existed forever is an irrational concept. Even a goddess would need a beginning, which means we are still trying to explain where it all came from.

    So aren’t they really just the same question in the end? Maybe it is better to ask a question from a different point of view. The universe is a mind-boggling thing, enormous in scope and size. So, too, would any goddess that could create such a universe. It would have to be in order to create said universe. So in my mind the real question is not if it came from something or nothing, because that is the same question. No, the question is what is more likely: Is there two mind-boggling enormities that exist, or just one?

    The existence of one is simpler. Call it Occam’s Razor, or the KISS principle, or whatever you like. But the simpler explanation is one that doesn’t involve supernatural things…

  5. 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!

      1. Cosmological concept which is complete from logical point of view

        Initial composition of boundless space from the point of view of element:

        1.It is suffucient to declare existence of two elements, SIMPLE and COMPLEX, possesing closed systemic appearance in order to imagine different (homogenous) and completed one.
        2.It is sufficient to declare existence of Lord and Almighty in other element, possesing non-closed systematic appearance in order to imagine it as different and incomplete as heterogenous (in other words: various type).

        It is not difficult to presume that simple and complex compression is happened in possible minimal widening from permanent widening level, first, inclination to descending, from material component of God from non-material component of Divine Spirit/separation happened as maximum possible diversity (1H) on essence of God on minimum possible numeric homogeneity regarding with blockage of start of non-material components, permanently widening, inclined to their increase of essence/God widens minimal possible homogeneity as maximum possible numeric diversity (2H) to His essence on the basis of 1H material components. Closing process starts only from time, known to God, starting from completion of 2 H opening process. Closing process reopens according to initial opening level of Divine Spirit 1H-1H process of God to 2H process and conversion possibilities of 2H process to 1 H process!

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