Go Back   AFA Forums > Atheism > Debate Forum

Debate Forum The AFA Debate forum. Set up your debate or join the peanut gallery in here.

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 4th March 2013, 09:01 PM
Worldslaziestbusker Worldslaziestbusker is offline
Raptured!
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: By the sea (I do like it)
Posts: 3,653
Default The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God constitutes Special Pleading

Xeno alerted me to the fact that all debates other than the one that resulted in the nice Lion skin rug in the foyer disappeared.
Fortunately, a kindly disposed sloth saved the final version of the debate I arranged with Lawlessone, a Christian apologist I encountered at Reasonable Faith Forums. I would have contacted LLO and requested he make his posts again, but my account at RFF was disabled long before this debate even took off, and I was unwilling to ask Xeno to act as intermediary once more, let alone sock puppet into that space to ask LLO to show up and post his material again myself, so I will resurrect the thread from the material provided by Ausloth on my Pat. In addition to using the original poster's name at the start of each post, I will use different coloured text to reduce the likelihood that a reader might become confused about whose word they are reading - black for LLO, blue for me.

The topic was as the heading states, with me taking the affirmative and therefore the first post. That LLO did forewent the right to a summing up statement meant that I also had the last word, but that was not intended or expected.

Last edited by Worldslaziestbusker; 4th March 2013 at 09:23 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 4th March 2013, 09:02 PM
Worldslaziestbusker Worldslaziestbusker is offline
Raptured!
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: By the sea (I do like it)
Posts: 3,653
Default Re: The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God constitutes Special Pleading

BUSKER 1

From animism to polytheism, to henotheism, to montheism: models of the divine required regular
updates in order to adapt to increasing human philosophical acumen and to remain fit for purpose
in increasingly sophisticated societies. Similarly, the degree of intervention attributed to the divine
shifted from responsibility for every event, to helping their favoured people win battles, to acting
when prayed to sincerely by really righteous people, to appearing on toast. As our ability to
explain the phenomena we experience increased, models for deities became increasingly subtle
to keep pace with the selective pressures ranged against them, and that which could be credibly
attributed to them diminished inversely to our understanding of the realm we inhabit. In short, the
gaps shrank and the gods had to keep pace.

The Cosmological Argument for God is the final, unassailable gap available for deities, but while it
is impossible to winkle a deity out of that gap the Cosmological Argument posits, there is no
particularly good reason to jam one in there in the first place, either. Religious apologists assert
that a deity is the answer to the question posed by the Kalam formulation for the Cosmological
Argument for God, but this is special pleading as a deity is the only explanation for a cause for the
universe they allow. The conclusion, being assumed before the syllogism is formed, negates the
validity of the logic.

The Kalam divides existence into a set of caused things and a set of uncaused things. Only one
uncaused thing is necessary, but for a deity as the conclusion of the Kalam to be valid and not a
case of special pleading, the set of uncaused things must be able to accommodate more than one
thing. The only way to otherwise justify only allowing that set to accomodate one thing would be to
provide compelling evidence to support that choice of thing. Just stating that the conclusion of the
Kalam is "...and we call that thing God," fits the special pleading criteria. No other possibilities are
considered and no other possibilities are considered possible.
The sleight of thought many theists apply in defending this is the dearth of other possible
explanations, but in the same way none of you can know the colour of the hat I am now wearing
without further investigation, the lack of information about the possibilities does not automatically
make the first thing someone guesses correct, or even a logically valid place holder. The only
honest response anyone other than me can give to the question "What colour hat was Matt
wearing as he typed this?" is "I don't know." The answer to the question, in this case, is effable
(the opposite of ineffable - effable is not a colour), and avenues of investigation are available for
you to eff it if you deem the answer sufficiently important, but anyone simply guessing at it would,
I hope, not attempt to treat their guess as holding better odds of being correct than any other
guess. Any attempt to use deductive logic to produce the answer would require special pleading
because the answer cannot be deduced. Deduction can only define the parameters the answer
must meet if the premises are true, and those premises don't offer enough information for a
deduced conclusion which is also the answer.

Premise one: Matt wore a hat while typing this.
Premise two: The hat had a colour.
Therefore: Matt wore a hat reflecting or emitting light of a frequency visible to a human eye.

The deduced conclusion does little more than redefine the premises.

Your necessary agnosticism regarding the colour of my hat is analogous to the agnosticism I have
regarding the uncaused cause of the existence of the universe deemed necessary iff the
premises of the Kalam are sound. Theists posit a deity to fit the deduced criteria, but that atheists
cannot provide an alternative to a deity does not make a deity the winner by default. It makes their
deity a yellow hat. A possible runner, but without evidence to support the yellow hat hypothesis,
still only a runner and not a winner.

The set of uncaused things may contain any number of competing hypotheses people have yet to
come up with, but without supporting evidence for any of them, the only honest response to the

question "What caused the universe to begin" is still "I don't know."
Religions and their leaders have fallen from their position as the source of all wisdom to the
source of information directly related to the scriptures of those religions. Where once theologians
were consulted on matters ranging from cosmology to microbiology, they are reduced to making
assertions about how to prepare food and how and with whom to have sex in order to remain pure
in the eyes of their particular deity. All other advice about ethics, the value of community and our
origins are available to us through means other than divine revelation. The Kalam offers a final
frontier on which theologians can attempt to hold forth on scientific matters with some guise of
credibility, but the cosmology is a red herring. By tying people up in premises reliant on particular
classical and quantum physics models, theists manage to retain a sheen of scientific rigour and
argue about evidence and hypotheses in areas with a solid footing of scientific research while
leading their opponents a merry dance around the maypole of obfuscation. The emperor is naked.
The conclusion of the argument doesn't have to go where they want it to, but this is never
acknowledged. It doesn't matter which cosmological model you accept as the best explanation of
what happened when, or whether a being outside of time can begin to act, or whether or not a
infinite being slotted into a syllogism which precludes infinity is valid, because in the absence of
evidence for any particular uncaused cause, the best we can do is deduce the properties of that
cause. Allowing anyone to put a name on that collection of parameters or to assert that that cause
must be intelligent is to invite that person insert their faith where their evidence should be. Each
explanation must be examined on its merits. If only one explanation is available, it is not correct
by default any more than the creation stories were a true representation of how biodiversity came
about before Lamarck, Wallace and Darwin put forward their ideas on the matter. Using the
Kalam formulation of the Cosmological Argument for God is no less a case of special pleading
than any other attempt to define a deity into existence - another shot at flying by pulling on the
bootstraps.

Apologies for the Doppler font shift. I was listening to The National while typing and it moved me
at the speed of rock.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 4th March 2013, 09:03 PM
Worldslaziestbusker Worldslaziestbusker is offline
Raptured!
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: By the sea (I do like it)
Posts: 3,653
Default Re: The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God constitutes Special Pleading

LAWLESSONE 1
Hello all. Thank you for the opportunity to post on these boards, and a special thank
you to those who courteously invited me over to participate in a debate. I do hope to
maintain a good base of argumentation while providing information that expand the
minds of both sides of the discussion.

To start my opening statement I would like to clarify a few terms, while making clear
and concise the platform I will be debating from. In this discussion I will be
defending the Kalam Cosmological Argument as originally formulated by Al-Ghazzali
in defense of a subject whose essential attributes adhere to those classically ascribed
to a monotheistic deity. In this discussion I will be defending the claim that the
Kalam Cosmological Argument is not engaging in any form of special pleading.
Special pleading, within the realms of philosophical argumentation, is defined as: "a
form of spurious argument where a position in a dispute introduces favourable
details or excludes unfavourable details by alleging a need to apply additional
considerations without proper criticism of these considerations. Essentially, this
involves someone attempting to cite something as an exemption to a generally
accepted rule, principle, etc. without justifying the exemption." (Damer, T. Edward
(2008). Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-free Arguments (6

ed.). Cengage Learning. pp. 122–124.)

Here the charge of special pleading is lodged in specificity towards Part 2 of the
Kalam where the apologist gleans necessary attributes of the cause of the universe
utilizing logical inference. In specificity my opponent claims that the reason why the
metaphysically necessary being concluded by the Kalam is a case of special pleading
is due to the fact that the apologist supposedly only allows for the inclusion of a
singular uncaused entity that could possibly carry with it the attributes ascribed, with
the hidden assumption a-priori that this causal entity is God. And so it is this specific
charge that I will unpack and discuss, and specifically not Part 1 of the Kalam with
its' three premises. And it is on this specific charge that I will defend the claim that,
as per the definition given above, the Kalam is not gifting the cause it concludes
exists with special privileges that are not afforded to theoretical alternative claims.

With regards to this claim in specificity the answer is quite clear. Does there exist
alternative uncaused transcendent entities which can be erected in place of the
intelligent, uncaused entity as defended by the apologist? Yes there is. As
traditionally defended by famous Christian apologist William Lane Craig the kalam
cosmological argument erects a theistic model of cosmology which is arrived at
through breaking down the necessary ontological attributes of a cause of the
universe, and then presents that cause as an inference to the best explanation. This
explanation can then be held up against alternate explanations on the stage. Good
examples of such alternate uncaused causes of the universe would be Alexander
Vilenkins Nucleation Model in which the uncaused cause is a false vacuum state
which tunnels into our universe and expands (http://arxiv.org/abs/1208.1335), The
Baum–Frampton model in which the universe is itself uncaused and cyclical (http://
arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0703162), or an Emergent Model in which a "cosmic seed" is
presupposed to exist uncaused such as the Phantom Tachyon model (http://
iopscience.iop.org/0264-9381/25/20/205019).

And so as per the charge laid out by my opponent: "for a deity as the conclusion of
the Kalam to be valid and not a case of special pleading, the set of uncaused things
must be able to accommodate more than one thing." (WLB Post #1) the complaint of
special pleading is defeated. The reason why the apologist offers up theism as an
inference to the best explanation and not alternate models is not because they affirm
that no other uncaused entities could exist, but rather simply for the utilitarian
reason that one ought not provide defeaters to their own argument during an
opening speech which is limited in time. In philosophy the potential realm of
uncaused and necessary beings is vast, including such potential things as numbers,
platonic entities, or even abstract logic. As we can see from comparing the kalam to
alternative models of cosmology, there is no exemption from any traditionally
ascribed rules of logic which the apologist believes the kalam enjoys, and so no case
of special pleading.

With regards to the inference towards epistemological nihilism ("We don't know") as
a preferred explanation, to that I'd merely note that within the realm of philosophy,
natural theology, and science the goal of individual is to seek a worldview, or set of
beliefs/discoveries, which most closely adheres to the truth of the world around the
individual. Appealing to agnosticism about a certain subject through means of
epistemological nihilism is a defeater to the goal of seeking this truth, and so in
many academic circles is frowned upon. Here is a very fascinating video on the
subject I hope you will enjoy: youtu.be/f7rrEFJ8Da4
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 4th March 2013, 09:04 PM
Worldslaziestbusker Worldslaziestbusker is offline
Raptured!
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: By the sea (I do like it)
Posts: 3,653
Default Re: The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God constitutes Special Pleading

BUSKER 2
That my opponent concedes that the set of uncaused things is able to accomodate
more than one thing is not enough to let the formulation as it is used by apologists,
such as William Lane Craig, off the hook with regard to special pleading.

Back to hats: If my opponent proposed I was wearing a yellow hat while typing my
first post, and another person proposed I was wearing an ultra-violet hat, pointing
out that ultra-violet is not visible to the human eye is not the same thing as
demonstrating that I was wearing a yellow hat. To assert that it must be yellow
because the ultraviolet hat was shown to be invalid doesn't assess the yellow hat
hypothesis on its merits - false dichotomies are a case of special pleading because
the possibility of alternatives is ignored in order to favour the ideas of the person
making the false dichotomy.

I have deuteranopia and recognise yellow, but red has little meaning to me in the
same way what we can only call bluey-bluey-green has little meaning to anyone
other than the mantis shrimps which can differentiate it from other hues, but that
lack of capacity in me to comprehend what redness is doesn't make a red hat an
impossible alternative to the yellow hat, and our limits with regard to knowledge
might similarly preclude us from ever understanding what might explain the question
posed if the premises of the Kalam are sound.

To say "I don't know," is not an explanation of anything, but an honest response in
any circumstance where a valid question has been asked but the respondent does
not have enough information to answer coherently. Not every coherent sentence
requesting information can be answered*, and the answers to questions which
logically do have an answer may not be accessible to humanity. What is it like to
experience red? I don't know. What colour hat was I wearing when I typed my first
post? You don't know. Acknowledging that we don't know something is not a call to
stop trying to explain things and or to give up trying to find answers to our
questions, but recognition of the limitations to knowledge we sometimes face until
more information is available. Demanding an explanation from someone who does
not have one does not make your own explanation more valid. Every hypothesis
which is not trumped by a more elegant or parsimonious one still needs to be
assessed on its merits, and the "...and we call this thing God," end used in apologist
rhetoric regarding the KCA4G is treated as a conclusion rather than an hypothesis. I
accept that the explanation might be a deity, but I also think any number of other
possibilities we can't imagine might take that niche in a scenario where the laws of
physics as we understand them do not apply. Forcing the argument to settle on the
one candidate it would be extremely convenient for it to settle on for theists suggests
an ulterior motive, and I think the dearth of people turning to religion because of the
Kalam, and the large numbers of already religious people turning to the Kalam,
speaks volumes about that ulterior motive.

The Kalam is the last gap available for people to keep their personal deity in when
they have examined the evidence for their particular faith, but it is not a solid footing
on which to base an acceptance of a god proposition as being true if you want to
share the idea with anyone else. To assert that the absence of a better hypothesis
makes the yellow hat/god hypothesis true by default is to invite anyone to make up
anything that could fit in the gap. The parameters of a timeless, spaceless existence
tax the imagination of a being extant in space and experiencing linear time, but I'm
willing to have a go, and think I can do better than a deity, a fairly hackneyed idea
people have been investing in and anthropomorphising for thousands of years before

the Kalam required anyone to try and crowbar one into a timeless and spaceless
context.

Blurn is a more parsimonious explanation for the existence of the universe than a
deity. The nearest analogy for blurn is gravity, but blurn is only a billionth as strong,
and blurn is a faint spleeb of zingo, with hints of plab. Blurn is timeless and
dimensionless and avoids the paradox of a timeless thing having to begin to act
because it didn't, it just is, and the features of blurn that allowed it to kick off the
expansion of the universe with the physical laws we recognise are still in action, but
too faint to detect, yet.

*To paraphrase Neil de-Grasse Tyson's example: At what temperature does the
number seven melt?
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 4th March 2013, 09:06 PM
Worldslaziestbusker Worldslaziestbusker is offline
Raptured!
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: By the sea (I do like it)
Posts: 3,653
Default Re: The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God constitutes Special Pleading

LAWLESSONE 2

It seems as though we're moving from the charge of special pleading being due
specifically to the absence of alternate causeless entities presented by the apologist
(which I noted was not due to a circumstance of special pleading where the apologist
insists this is the only conceivable explanation, but rather simply due to the fact that
it would not be pragmatic for one to offer rebuttals to their own arguments in the
limited span of a debate), and we are moving to a charge of special pleading being
due to this perceived causal entity being arrived at by successively eliminating
alternate theories, or affirming the falsity of a proposition as inference to the positive
attributes of the entity. As my opponent has stated, simply because we can
determine that the hat is not ultraviolet, does not mean that the hat is yellow, which
is true as that is the logical fallacy which is known as denying the antecedent. The
Kalam, however, does not engage in this fallacy.

Now on a personal note it is rather useful that we arrive at this charge as my
profession in real life is that I am a detective, and so deductive argumentation and
investigative technique are a unique speciality of mine. In this circumstance I'm
afraid my opponent is simply incorrect with regards to proper investigative technique
which leads through an epistemological framework that generates a truth claim that
is arrived at via an inference to the best explanation. With regards to the kalam in
specificity Part 1 of the argument engages in a form of philosophical reasoning which
is known as Modus Ponens, where an individual uses propositional logic with
implication elimination in order to arrive at a logically valid conclusion. This can best
be summarized as "P implies Q. P therefore Q". In Part 2 of the Kalam we switch to
an alternate form of propositional logic which is known at Modus Tollens, where one
engages in logical inference by denying the consequent. This can best be
summarized as "P implies Q. Q is false, therefore, P is false."

And so specifically when we discuss the manner in which the kalam derives its
conclusion of necessity via logical inference with modus tollens, we are looking not at
a fallacy of denying the antecedent where a positive claim is gleamed by denying an
unrelated consequent (The hat is not ultraviolet, therefore, the hat is yellow) but
rather through logical inference (The hat is not blue, therefore, the hat does not
have the property of "is the colour blue"). With regards to our universe we discuss
the semi-classical space time notion that at T=0, approximately 13.7 billion years
ago, the universe began to exist. This includes all space, time, matter, and energy.

We support this via the Borde Guth Vilenkin Theorem (youtu.be/NXCQelhKJ7A), as
well as the failure of Emergent, Cyclical, and Eternal Inflation Models to create a
matter source which can allow for the eternality of either matter, or energy (http://
arxiv.org/abs/1204.4658). We then use modus ponens to affirm the proposition of
the metaphysical necessity of efficient causality, as well as the scientific notion of a
cosmological beginning to the universe (Premise 1 of part 1, Premise 2 of Part 1). In
part 2 we utilize modus tollens to deny the consequent of what necessary attributes
this efficient cause must have.

Modus Tollens:
1. P implies Q
2. Q is false,
3. therefore P is false

Kalam:
1. Possibly the efficient cause of the universe (P) has the property of materiality (Q).
2. Matter did not exist logically prior to T=0. (Q is false)
3. Therefore the efficient cause of the universe cannot have the property of
materiality. (Therefore, P is false).

And so you see the charge of special pleading with regards to the kalams usage of
Modus Tollens to deny the consequent doesn't hold true when we consider that this
is a logically valid form of deductive reasoning. In my profession we refer to this
colloquially as "knocking off theories", and it is quite vital to investigation. When I
investigate a crime I may have multiple suspects, but knock off theories via modus
tollens and logical elimination. (Suspect X may have committed the crime. Suspect X
has an airtight alibi, therefore Suspect X could not have committed the crime) And if
we allowed for the inclusion of either epistemological nihilism into our framework, or
allow for the appeal to unknown potential defeaters to our theories, we would never
be capable of coming to a conclusion on anything for there will always be a
theoretically infinite number of unknown defeaters to any decision you make. If I am
investigating a crime scene and rule out all suspects save one, how can I determine
he is the most likely candidate if I can't rule out the possibility that aliens came to
the crime scene and altered it? That would be rather alarming for my employer, and
I'm afraid I would be out of a job.

And with regards to the semantics of the conclusion, it is certainly a jump from the
cause of the universe being described in Part 2 of the kalam, and the assertion that
this is a deistic/theistic God, but this is not a completely unwarranted jump. I believe
I would be rather hard pressed to find an atheist on stage who would deny the
possibility of God creating the universe, but agree that it was created by an a-
temporal, spaceless, immaterial, unembodied intelligence which is supremely
powerful and personal. I am also happy to, in debate, conceed that the
statement "and God created the universe" is a strong one, even though I am
confident in it, and present instead "the most likely explanation for the universe is
God."

And so by examining the investigative technique of the apologist we can see that we
are not engaging in special pleading by denying the antecedent, but rather we are
engaging in the fundamental and foundational rules of propositional logic required for
any investigation that are known as Modus Tollens and Modus Ponens.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 4th March 2013, 09:07 PM
Worldslaziestbusker Worldslaziestbusker is offline
Raptured!
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: By the sea (I do like it)
Posts: 3,653
Default Re: The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God constitutes Special Pleading

BUSKER 3
Arriving at a conclusion by eliminating less good alternative explanations is fine if
you are confident all possibilities have been accounted for and if the answer you
arrive at is sufficient to account for that which it attempts to explain. Using the
Kalam to attempt to bolster belief in a deity fails on two of those criteria. We cannot
be sure that every possibility has been considered, and the "...and we call this thing
God" coda apologists give to the Kalam formulation is not an explanation, just a
labeling of the problem the Kalam poses. The mechanism by which the deity did its
causing is not described and the answer might just as well be "...Magic!" for all the
explanatory power it offers.
Modus tollens is all well and good if you only accept situations within the physical
laws we recognise because of the limits those laws give to the range of possiblities,
and even then, some very unlikely things have happened in the past, and very
unlikely things cannot be entirely ruled out by a modus tollens approach to
determining the truth of a situation after the fact. Modus tollens is least likely to be
of use in considering pre-Planck time events because the laws obeyed by objects and
entities in your cases don't apply in those conditions. The reason pre-Planck events
leave a gap for your deity are the same reasons you cannot claim to know or
understand what actually happened.
Your experience as a detective serves you very well as a detective, I'm sure, but
your attempt at using it as an argument from authority in terms of cosmology is not
going to gain you any traction, particularly if you are going to claim you have unique
talents. Unique and valuable are not autocorrelated properties, but I assume you did
not mean that you are a uniquely bad detective, but are you really claiming that no
other detective can do what you can do? Arguments from authority do not make your
case for you, and boastful ones featuring vocabulary errors should, perhaps, be left
for the pub.
I can see a way in which your experience as a detective might trip you up, though.
Your employer expects results and I expect you get rewarded with acclaim and
promotions for getting them. Every crime has a cause and, given sufficient
resources, you stand a better chance than most people of finding a link between
what happened and what you find after the fact. It's not surprising, then, that you
find the response "I don't know what happened," unsatisfying, but even in the
physical realm we inhabit, you will sometimes have to make that response. If you did
enough detecting, you could work out what colour hat I was wearing when I made
my first post in this thread, but you can't deduce it. You need more evidence about
the hat in the same way you need evidence to solve a particularly puzzling crime,
though I notice you didn't mention that in your treatise on how detecting works. You
only listed suspects and alibis. I hope you take evidence into account in your work
and don't just round up the usual suspects, Claude Rains style. The only occasions
on which the word evidence has occurred in this thread is in my posts, Detective
Lawlessone.


Quote:
And with regards to the semantics of the conclusion, it is certainly a jump from the
cause of the universe being described in Part 2 of the kalam, and the assertion that
this is a deistic/theistic God, but this is not a completely unwarranted jump.
I wasn't claiming that special pleading occurred in the Kalam showing that an
uncaused cause was necessary, but in exactly the jump you concede occurs in
religious apologetics. Perhaps we have been arguing at cross purposes. I don't deny
that a deity is possible, but that the Kalam does not offer scope for a probability
statement about a deity because all it does is show that an uncaused cause is

necessary iff the premises are sound. Deities don't enter into that equation.


Quote:
I am also happy to, in debate, conceed that the statement "and God created the
universe" is a strong one, even though I am confident in it, and present instead "the
most likely explanation for the universe is God."
There's your special pleading, right there.

Having someone spot a logical fallacy in your argument does not mean that your
claims about reality are incorrect, only that you cannot support those claims using
the argument containing the logical fallacy. There may well be a deity, but the Kalam
does not show that that is the case and the only way to get a deity into the picture is
through special pleading.
Not only is it dishonest to attempt this once the logical flaw has been pointed out, it
is also unethical. The harm caused by people thinking they have divinely mandated
licence to act against others far outweighs any good deeds performed by religions.
Attempting to fallaciously use a logical proof to do a job it is not equipped to do -
justify faith - is both a breach of the trust religious followers put in their leaders
and a slap in the face of anyone whose rights have been violated by those acting on
religious mandate.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 4th March 2013, 09:11 PM
Worldslaziestbusker Worldslaziestbusker is offline
Raptured!
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: By the sea (I do like it)
Posts: 3,653
Default Re: The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God constitutes Special Pleading

LAWLESSONE 3

It seems my opponent has veered off course from the original charge of special
pleading, and so I would like to take a moment to reiterate the two original charges
so that we can see if these complaints of special pleading have remained valid. In
our first charge we see the complaint that the Kalam engages in special pleading due
to the fact that it only allows for the inclusion of a singular entity which, as I noted,
is untrue as there exist a numerous amount of theoretical uncaused entities which
can be erected in place of the Kalam's conclusion and debated as either sound, or
unsound, as proper justification. It is merely not the job of the apologist to rebuttal
his own arguments on stage. Our second charge of special pleading was the claim
that the Kalam arrives at the conclusion by engaging in the logical fallacy which is
known as denying the antecedent. As a charge against the form of the argument I
noted that this fallacy (the hat is not ultraviolet, therefore the hat is yellow) is not
being committed by the Kalam as it merely is engaging in the propositional logic of
modus tollens (the hat is not blue, therefore, the hat does not have the property "is
blue"). Both of these defenses have remained unobjected.

In my opponents rebuttal he has offered six new objections which are independent to
the original charge of special pleading, and in some cases unrelated to the topic.
They are:

1. The apologist does not account for all possibilities

To this I would simply note that one never accounts for a theoretical unknown
possibility when coming to a decision as to a truth claim in deductive investigation.
For every decision one comes to, there is a theoretical and unknown infinite number
of potential defeaters. As per my original example, if I am to come to a decision that
one individual has perpetrated a crime and am confident in that decision, must I
eschew this decision on the basis that I cannot rule out the possibility that aliens
came to earth and committed the crime? Of course not, because if we allowed for
this kind of reasoning we would be unable to come to a decision on anything. How do

I know that what I am thinking is what I am actually thinking and not thoughts that
have been forced onto me by an unknown entity? I cannot rule out this possibility,
and so would need to decided that my decisions are not necessarily decided by me,
which is logically incoherent.

With regards to known potential defeaters, such as alternate theories, as I defended
in the original charge of special pleading it is not the duty of the debater during his
opening speech to offer rebuttals to his own arguments. These potential uncaused
causes can be offered on stage and debated for validity. A good example would be a
static uncaused cause which is cyclical and causes universes to begin to exist in
iteration. The problems with this model include the problem of gradual incoherency
leading to collapse, as noted by Alexander Vilenkin (http://arxiv.org/abs/
1204.4658), and a temporal requirement.

And so it is not that the kalam does now allow for the inclusion of alternate
explanations, quite to the contrary, the apologist comes to the debate with rebuttals
and objections to those very defeaters, and rules them out deductively by examining
each one logically and ruling them out as a possibility so that when a rebuttal is
presented it can be debated. This is not special pleading on the part of the apologist,
rather, this is simply how philosophical argumentation and on stage debate is done.
One defends their view as a view which most closely adheres to the truth, and
defends this by giving reason and evidence to support their claim, while offering
rebuttal and objection to defeaters.

And in regard to potential unknown defeaters, as I stated above, one simply never
considers an argument invalid based upon the possibility that an unknown defeater
may exist. If we included the possibility of an unknown defeater as proof against a
positive claim we could never claim any positive claim, as there will always be an
infinite number of theoretical unknown defeaters. Thus, when we adopt this
framework of epistemological nihilism we preclude the existence of God as a cause of
the universe, but take with him the rest of reality and our ability to conclude any
truth.

2. Pre-planck conditions preclude the ability to coherently discuss the cause
of the universe.

This is a common objection, though unsuited for the models used to defend such
things as the metaphysical necessity of efficient causality, or universal genesis. In
defense of the Kalam the apologist appeals to several evidences to defend the claim
that the universe began to exist, and that the universe requires a cause; The
impossibility of an infinite regress of past causal events, the Borde Guth Vilenkin
Theorem, and the impossibility of ontology sans efficient causality. All of these are
philosophical, metaphysical, or mathematical in nature and so move beyond Planck
time independently of known physical laws.

The original reason why it was said that pre-planck became incoherent was due to
the fact that pre-GUT in the cosmological eras involved a state of existence in which
the four fundamental forces had not splintered apart yet, and so no cosmological
model could be utilized which presuppose the interaction of these elements. However
this is not to say that all conversation of such a period is impossible. Philosophically I
can assert that it was not a married bachelor who created the universe, as the very
descriptor is both self defeating, and implies a bodily individual who pre-existed the
material he is composed of. And mathematically the Borde Guth Vilenkin theorem

goes past planck time to show that any universe which is on average in a state of
expansion cannot be infinite in the past, and must have a beginning (youtu.be/
NXCQelhKJ7A). Cosmologists at large also seem confident in discussing things pre-
planck as Alexander Vilenkin himself as created a pre-planck nucleation model (http:/
/arxiv.org/abs/1208.1335).

3. We lack a mechanism of creation on theism.

To this I would simply assert that the Christian theist does, it is simply one that the
atheist will never accept. It is said in Christianity that God spoke all that is into
existence through the Logos who became flesh through Mary as the born saviour of
humanity Jesus Christ (John 1, Corinthians 8:6,etc). This answer is simply
unacceptable to the atheist, and so they seek for a naturalistic mechanism to explain
creation, which doesn't work. It would be akin to asking for the natural mechanism
used by a supernatural being to direct the universe into existence.

And even if we did not have a supernatural explanation, it wouldn't entail that we
needed one otherwise our explanation would not be a good one. One does not need
to know the mechanism of creation to understand that something was created. If we
were to stumble across a vast alien spacecraft on the dark side of the moon we
would not need know what tools they used to build that ship in order to come to the
conclusion that it was designed by an intelligence.

4. The kalam engages in special pleading due to it's claim for the existence
of a deity, when it only entails an uncaused cause is necessary.

To be clear, the Kalam comes to the conclusion that an uncaused intelligent entity is
the cause of the universe, and this is done via the impossibility of an infinite regress
of past causal events, and the impossibility of of an eternal unintelligent cause giving
rise to a finite effect. That entity is ascribed the attributes of spacelessness, a-
temporality, immateriality, and aseity through modes tollens. As I stated in my
previous post, it is a jump to say that this being is God, but an insignificantly small
one when you consider that the traditional attributes ascribed to the monotheistic
Judeo Christian God are identical to those we arrive at in the kalam. And as I stated
above, I would be happy to cede that the cause may not be the Judeo Christian God
if the atheist cedes that the universe was caused by a transcendent, intelligent,
unembodied mind, as then I would be debating an deist/theist, not an atheist.

5. The claim of detective work is an argument from authority.

Actually that was merely meant as a personal insertion into the argument in order to
bring some personality and levity to my otherwise dry and philosophical response.

6. It is unethical to use an argument with a logical fallacy to prove a theistic
claim.

To note I would simply state that this is an off topic assertion, as the original topic of
debate was "does the kalam engage in special pleading" and not "is it ethical to
utilize arguments to support theism". If you wish to debate the subject I would be
happy to do so on another thread.

And with that long response I would like to note that I will be able to respond to this
thread in two days time on Monday. I do not engage in any apologetics work on the
weekends, as that does not make for a very happy wife. lol So I look forward to your

response and will see you again on Monday.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 4th March 2013, 09:11 PM
Worldslaziestbusker Worldslaziestbusker is offline
Raptured!
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: By the sea (I do like it)
Posts: 3,653
Default Re: The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God constitutes Special Pleading

BUSKER 4

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lawlessone777
one never accounts for a theoretical unknown possibility when coming to a decision
as to a truth claim in deductive investigation.
By inserting a deity into the formulation, that is exactly what you have done. That is
special pleading.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 4th March 2013, 09:12 PM
Worldslaziestbusker Worldslaziestbusker is offline
Raptured!
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: By the sea (I do like it)
Posts: 3,653
Default Re: The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God constitutes Special Pleading

LAWLESSONE 4

For, what I believe, will be my closing statement (though I may be wrong) I would
like to take a moment to summarize the charges laid against the Kalam thus far,
unpack them in reference to my prior posts, and see if any of these arguments have
thus far have held their own in lieu of my rebuttals to those objections.

1. The first charge of special pleading had to do with the specific statement that the
Kalam allows only for a singular entity to have the attributes necessary to cause a
universe to begin to exist. In my response to this I have noted that the apologist
does not discount a-priori the existence of alternative causeless entities from the
pool of live options, but rather acknowledges their existence and comes to the table
with an arsenal of rebuttals and objections to those causes. It is simply not the duty
of the debater to argue against his own arguments.

2. The second charge of special pleading had to do with the form of the argument as
well as it's usage of propositional logic in order to to come to a truth claim which it
adheres to as an inference to the best explanation. Here the charge was that the
Kalam was engaging in the logical fallacy known as denying the antecedent. It was
claimed that the truth claim made by the Kalam is arrived at by eliminating unrelated
and alternative attributes of a cause in order to arrive at one which is assumed to be
true. (The hat is not ultraviolet, therefore the hat is yellow) To this I simply noted
that the Kalam is not engaging in such a logical fallacy as it merely adheres to the
very standard form of propositional logic known as Modus Tollens. (The hat is not
blue, therefore, the hat does not have the property "is blue")

3. And for the final charge of special pleading, as was lodged in the previous post, we
have the claim that due to the fact that the debater asserts that this cause of the
universe is a deity it is engaging in special pleading. Here I would like to make four
notes:

a) The Kalam itself does not adhere to the claim of deity, it is the debater who
makes the claim of deity after presenting the Kalam. Part 2 of the Kalam makes the
claim that the cause of the universe is an a-temporal, unembodied, intelligent entity
who is capable of creating a universe. It is after this claim is made when presenting
the argument that the debater, post argument, makes the claim that this entity is, in
fact, a God. And so the Kalam would not be at fault for this, as the Kalam does not
make the claim, the debater would be engaging in special pleading in this case if not
for the fact that...

b) The charge lodged is not a case of special pleading. Special pleading is when a
singular subject being presented by the debater is given special privileges not

afforded to alternate explanations. A good example of this is a man saying, "All cars
are evil, because the gas they burn pollutes the atmosphere." And when someone
notes that the man himself owns a car he responds with. "My car isn't evil, because
it's a compact, and thus burns less fuel." This is a textbook example of special
pleading. In reference to the complaint lodged the Kalam would not be engaging in
the fallacy of special pleading by affirming the deity of the cause concluded in Part 2,
it would be engaging in the fallacy of begging the question, which is when one
affirms and unwarranted conclusion, or argues in a circle by citing their own premise
to prove the conclusion. It would be akin to the Kalam stating, The cause of the
universe in the Kalam is God, there must be a cause of the universe, therefore God
exists. However even still the Kalam is not engaging in this fallacy due to the fact
that...

c) It is not a case of begging the question to assert that an entity whose essential
ontological attributes are identical to a pre-existing entity is that same entity. As the
Kalam concludes that an all powerful, unembodied, transcendent, immaterial,
personal, intelligent entity is the cause of the universe it is not at all a stretch to
assert that this entity is God. It would be akin to my brother calling me and telling
me that he had recently purchased a vessel which is approximately 15 feet in length,
six feet wide, had several seats and benches, a wheel from which to steer, and an
outboard motor which propelled the vehicle over water. Would I be begging the
question if I respond with, "Oh so you bought a boat?" And furthermore even if it
was the kalam that made this fallacy and not the debater, even if it is begging the
question and not special pleading, and even if the charge is justified it would still not
be a concern when we consider...

d) We could concede that the cause of the universe as determined by the Kalam may
or may not be God during the argument and would still be left with an a-temporal,
unembodied, transcendent, intelligent cause of the universe. What we have at this
point is a deistic/theistic worldview which can be extrapolated and fleshed out later
throughout the debate with further arguments. And so no theological freight needs to
be attached to this claim of deity in the first place, so we could concede this point
and not have our case harmed.

And so on that note we can see that the three charges of special pleading do not
hold under scrutiny, and so the Kalam still stands firmly rooted as a convincing
argument for the existence of God. And in overall strength of debate, as well as
veracity of argumentation, I believe I can assert with gentle confidence that faith in
God as defended by the apologist can be shown to be reasonable and rational, and I
do hope that in dealing with these arguments I have redressed the concerns and
divide between atheist and theist by showing that irenic and intellectual discourse is
certainly feasible on a stage of truth seeking and intellectualism. To quote my
favourite apologist, William Lane Craig, I believe we can politely disagree without
being disagreeable.

Thank you for your time and thought.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 4th March 2013, 09:13 PM
Worldslaziestbusker Worldslaziestbusker is offline
Raptured!
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: By the sea (I do like it)
Posts: 3,653
Default Re: The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God constitutes Special Pleading

BUSKER 5

Hello Lawlessone
The parameters of the debate were outlined both in your introductory thread and in
Protium's OP here. You still have two posts and a closing statement to make.

I'll grant you that allowing the set of uncaused things to accomodate more than
one thing does avoid a charge of special pleading at that point, but disagree that
your method for inserting a deity into the formulation is an honest and exhuastive
process. Special pleading is still required to make the jump you acknowledge is
needed, and yet even when you write the phrase

Quote:

one never accounts for a theoretical unknown possibility when coming to a decision
as to a truth claim in deductive investigation

you refuse to acknowledge that inserting a deity, itself a theoretical unknown
possibility, requires special pleading to get around your stated rule. I thought it
would be quickest and simplest to allow you to make my argument for me with that
phrase, but if you don't understand why it is special pleading to allow your own
preferred theoretical unknown possibility into the picture at the cost of any other, I'll
have to go the long way round.
Apologists attempt to use the Kalam to show that a deity must exist, but the Kalam
is not up to the task. The Kalam on its own I am fine with, but trying to use a
deductive argument to make a probability statement for an entity for which no
evidence exists cannot be done without special pleading, and hence my debate topic
was specifically "The KCA4G constitutes special pleading" and not simply "The KCA
constitutes special pleading."
Your boat example doesn't hold water. It is not analogous because you have
experience of boats existing. Boats are not in question. I could hit one with a rock
from where I am sitting. The same cannot be said for a deity without carrying the
assumption of a deity into the argument from the start. Your assumption is showing,
but as a fan of William Lane Craig, this is not surprising. Writing in "Five Views on
Apologetics," William Lane Craig advises Christians to only enter into apologetics with
properly basic faith - that is, faith in their God sufficiently strong that even if they
find answers they don't like, or which would defeat their beliefs, they will continue to
believe. This is special pleading to the nth degree, and I find the inherent dishonesty
in only arguing a point you already refuse to concede lame in the extreme. This
appears to be what you have done by claiming the Kalam is a valid, first principles
reason to believe in a deity when your underlying assumption is that a deity exists
already.
Perhaps the reason that you don't see why the KCA4G requires special pleading to
even mention a deity is that you don't use the Kalam justify faith, but to rationalise
it. While never stated in these words, the regular claim of apologists from various
religions is that "It's not special pleading if I do it, because I have the truth." If you
have the truth already, the Kalam is worthless to you. If you have the truth already,
you should be able to show that is the case independent of the Kalam.
With that in mind, I would like to know more about your personal faith. I know you
are a Christian, but not what denomination you belong to and whether or not you
accept the Apostle's, Nicean or Athenasian creeds, if any. Perhaps we can examine
how you use the Kalam to make the second jump from a deity to your particular
deity.

My previous post was kept short because I thought you would have to recognise how
your statement was self defeating, and I thought if I cut that close to the bone you
would have no scope for further derailment, but since I've already given you plenty
of avenues down which you might try to divert attention away from the jumps you
need to make to go from the Kalam to "...and we call this thing God. My God. Is
mine," I thought I would take a moment to return to your attempted argument from
authority. If it was not meant to intimidate the audience and I into taking you as a

superior deducer, what is it doing here? Adding colour, you claim? I don't need or
want colour from you, I want a coherent argument. I have seen you brag about your
superior deductive skills elsewhere, and you even used the word brag. Perhaps the
locals were impressed, but I am not, and think the potential flaw I spotted, in that
being a detective might lead you to find "I don't know" a more unsatisfying response
to any question than the average punter, is valid.
The wording you brought to the table here cannot be interpreted any way other
than "I am better at this than you, here's why." I am considering linking to this
debate for my students to observe logical fallacies in use on the fly. Your example of
an attempt at an argument from authority is the most egregious I have ever had
used directly on me.

Also not mentioned in the previous post for the sake of brevity, I would happily take
you up on your offer to debate the topic "The results of religion: nett harm to
humanity" in a future tussle.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +11. The time now is 08:52 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Feedback Buttons provided by Advanced Post Thanks / Like (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.