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Author Topic: The importance of the Cosmological argument.  (Read 3624 times)
Rob
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« on: 11/02/09 @ 16:17 »

Have been studying this in R.S. I think it''s importance has been overlooked, not as an argument for the existence of God, but rather it shows some limits concerning logic (According to my evangelical Christian teacher I am wrong and the argument only shows that God has to exist).

People think that there had to be a first cause; this argument is based on causation and thus logic. This cause apparently had to be ''God''.

Rather, I think that the argument shows that logic did not apply to the beginning of the universe. This could mean a number of things. It could mean that (our) logic only started when our universe started and thus anything could have created a universe. It could also mean that logic is only a limit of our minds rather than of the external world, this means the notion of causation itself is a leap of faith. It could also mean that our logic is just bad logic and that things can happen randomly. There are several other ideas but I''ll begin with these.

If anyone can help me out with these ideas, that is, tell me that I''m right or wrong (and maybe recommend various authors/books) and advise whether I should use them in a A level test, it would be very helpful.
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Gareth Southwell
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« Reply #1 on: 12/02/09 @ 09:36 »

Hi Rob,

I think you''re right. Nietzsche has argued that the notions of cause and effect are human constructs, so it is very possible that they are not necessarily related (as, for instance, such as Descartes would argue). Kant''s take on this is also interesting, as he uses the idea of the beginning of the universe as an example of what he terms an "antinomy" - that is, a logical contradiciton that occurs when the limits of reason are reached. So, regarding the beginning of the universe, Kant thought that it was equally plausible that it had to have some beginning as it was that it had always existed. Kant takes this to be a sign that there are some things which, due to the limits of human reason, we just can''t think about.

The main objection to the cosmological argument is of course that it doesn''t actually prove the existence of God, for even if we admit that the universe had to have a beginning, and that there must have been a first cause, there would seem to be no necessary reason for claiming that first cause to be God.
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axw820
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« Reply #2 on: 29/05/09 @ 21:07 »

I think you're completely right. I've been thinking this myself since I studied it in RS. It's an awful argument for the existence of God, but in my mind it does prove one very interesting thing -

Either there is no beginning or things can happen without a cause.

I have no idea which I feel is more faesible, but I'm gonna keep my eyes on the progression of the super string theory, it has a lot of promise.

I hate both of those possibilities, I do believe the technical term is a mind-f*ck. However, I do believe that Einstein's space-time theory does make the former theory possible. It could be that the 4th dimension, time, is actually in an enormous loop. That does not necessarily mean we will live the same existence again (consider indeterminism and apparent quantum randomness), but still we have no account for how the infinite loopcame to exist in the first place, but does it really need a beginning or a cause? After all it is infinite! Wow... I just turned the fourth dimension into god accidentally!  Tongue

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Gareth Southwell
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« Reply #3 on: 29/05/09 @ 21:37 »

You know, whilst I respect science, I wonder if string theory, or time in an infinite loop, or any other 'rational' explanation is any different from that of God. Do we know anything about the possibility of these things that can be conclusively proven? It seems to me - and this isn't necessarily being critical of science - that such explanations are no less mythological than the divine explanation.

So, if both types of explanation fail (or are merely distant hypotheses), then perhaps we do just hit a wall with this question (what you rightly term a mindf*ck, Alex!).

Moving on though (and perhaps inching toward another thread?), are there any proofs for God's existence that fair better?
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LostInAShaftOfSunlight
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« Reply #4 on: 31/05/09 @ 04:08 »

Gareth, you remind me of Camus in Sisyphus when he writes of scientists and scientific explanation:

"At the final stage you teach me that this wondrous and multicoloured universe can be reduced to the atom and that the atom itself can be reduced to the electron.  All this is good and I wait for you to continue.  But you tell me of an invisible planetary system in which electrons gravitate around a nucleus.  You explain this world to me with an image.  I realize then that you have been reduced to poetry: I shall never know. Have i time to become indignant?  You have already changed theories.  So that science that was to teach me everything ends up in a hypothesis, that lucidity founders in metaphor, that uncertainty is resolved in a work of art.  What need had I of such efforts?"

Quote
I wonder if string theory, or time in an infinite loop, or any other 'rational' explanation is any different from that of God.

They might be similar in their mythological aspects, but the 'rational' explanations are very different psychologically from the God ones, in their effects, or in the kind of person who finds either explanation acceptable. 

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Quote
it does prove one very interesting thing -

Either there is no beginning or things can happen without a cause.

the other option is that we can't know

"The Positive mode of thought is not necessarily a denial of the supernatural; it merely throws back that question to the origin of all things. If the universe had a beginning, its beginning, by the very conditions of the case, was supernatural; the laws of nature cannot account for their own origin" (JS Mill, Comte and Positivism. http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/16833)

This is the question of questions and so important that i'm willing to pay one hundred dollars to anyone who can answer it.

axw820: when you say that superstring theory has a lot of promise, do you mean for explaining how the universe is constructed or works, or for explaining how it came about in the first place?

The time loop digression reminds me of a line of Borges, from Boast of Quietness, that, "Time is living me"


« Last Edit: 31/05/09 @ 04:13 by LostInAShaftOfSunlight » Logged

Man, when I was young I shoved my ignorance in people's faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn.
Gareth Southwell
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« Reply #5 on: 07/06/09 @ 06:13 »

Yes, I agree with Camus - a great quote, isn't it? Great Compte quote as well. I also agree that the 'myths' or religion and science are different. But we're into Nietzsche territory here, aren't we? Why choose one 'truth' over another? Are we driven by an unconscious need? The scientist's need is - so it seems - to explain at all costs, to achieve a form of self-sufficiency in terms of causal explanation. At it's extreme, I think, this becomes life denying, and I think Nietzsche was right to classify this approach as a form of pessimism - a reduction of life to a series of uncomforting and often unpalatable principles.

Only $100 dollars for explaining the origins of the universe!?  Grin
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