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Old 4th March 2013, 09:14 PM
Worldslaziestbusker Worldslaziestbusker is offline
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Default Re: The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God constitutes Special Pleading


Ahhh that makes sense, apologies I fell back on traditional debating rebuttal periods
there for a second. I'll fill out my rebuttal.

Now as I have offered review for the past charges of special pleading which include
the claim that the Kalam does not account for a multiple set of uncaused things, as
well as the claim that it is committing the fallacy of denying the antecedent, I will
leave these two objections out for further review in this rebuttal and focus more
strongly on the resubmission of charge #3 that my opponent has again raised;
breaking it down into three constituent points that I believe the objection represents.
I will gently remind my opponent that personal reasoning behind holding a particular
set of beliefs, or presenting a set of argumentation, is not the subject of debate nor
does it operate against the plausibility of the argument. The mindset, motive, or
intent of the debater does not operate upon the form, or function of the argument. If
both a rosy cheeked Televangelist and studied doctor of biology presented Young
Earth Creationism as fact they would still be wrong regardless of their opinions, or
motives on the matter.

So let's break down this claim of special pleading, as I have responded in my past
post to Objection 1, but now see potential for unpacking on Objection 2, and
clarification for Objection 3.

1) The debater ascribes deity to the cause of the universe when the Kalam
only concludes that a timeless, spaceless, immaterial, intelligent, uncaused
entity exists.

To this I would simply like to refer back to a), b), c) and d) of my previous rebuttal. I
do not think it would be appropriate to simply copy and paste them, so I'll simply
reference it for the sake of brevity.

2) The Kalam ascribes to the cause of the universe the attribute of

To this I would note that the Kalam does not ascribe the attribute of intelligence to
the cause of the universe a-priori when presented, but rather comes to the
conclusion last in Part 2 of the argument by utilizing the same logic as before; Modus

Tollens. It asserts that eternal, necessary, causation cannot give rise to a finite,
contingent, effect. This is merely an assertion of a well known philosophical
understanding of efficient causality. An eternal unintelligent cause cannot give rise to
a finite effect due to the fact that a state-state cause is being derived from a stable
source and stable effect, and an event-event cause merely bumps the problem
upstairs and still runs face first into the problem of an infinite causal regress.

To underscore this we need only ask the question of how the ice in our freezer
remains frozen. The temperature in the freezer is operating causally upon the H2O in
order to cause it to remain frozen, this is a simultaneous state-state causal
relationship. So long as the state of cold remains, the state of the waters rigidity will
remain. State-event causality, in which the event is finite and contingent, would be
impossible when we note that the stability of the steady state is a requirement for
ontological existence of an eternal entity. Something which exists from eternity, for
eternity, cannot begin to engage in causal relationship with it's effect as a steady
state does not change unless we presuppose osculation (which is a different topic).
And so we can note that an eternal cause cannot give rise to a finite effect, much the
same as the ice in your freezer. If the H2O existed from eternity, for eternity,
alongside the cold temperature then the water would never begin to freeze, it would
simply always been in a perpetual, timeless, state of remaining frozen.

And so when we observe the impossibility of eternal state-event causal relationships
we note that an unintelligent eternal cause cannot give rise to a contingent effect.
From this we utilize the same propositional logic as the other attributes, Modus
Tollens, in affirming: "The cause of the universe cannot be unintelligent, therefore,
the property of unintelligence cannot be ascribed to the cause." Hence, the cause
must be intelligent.

3. We should remain agnostic about a subject which is counterintuitive

To the charge that boats are acceptable as an answer when deeming the plausibility
of a certain subject being ascribed identical attributes to the one that is arrived at via
Modus Tollens, I would simply note that this is an "ought" statement and not an "is"
statement. More specifically, it is an argument "in spirit" rather than an argument "in
deduction" and so does not speak against the ontology of the subject, but rather is
simply a question of epistemology. That is to say that we ought not ascribe the
reality of a deity for two reasons:

a) There are theoretical unknown potential defeaters - To this I am simply going to
clarify what I mean by theoretical unknown potential defeaters. What I mean by this
is the claim that there is this infinite theoretical pool of live options from which the
atheist can draw from that is held against the argument. It is akin to saying, "We
don't know, it could be anything. Your answer may be wrong." This is what I mean
when I say any investigation must reject the notion of a theoretically infinite number
of potential unknown defeaters simply because there is always an infinite number of
unknown defeaters for every proposition. So if we were to accept this theoretical
infinite as proof against our claim, we would have to do so for all propositions and be
left unable to conclude anything, because you never know, everything you believe
may not be true.

This objection is often followed by the creation of an on-the-spot causal entity which
is appealed to as a better explanation. "I claim that a turtle vomited the universe
into existence, ala Stephen King's IT." This is what's known as, traditionally, an

argument ad absurdum. When these appeals are made the apologist can debate
them down (what does the turtle eat, how does a material being pre-exist matter,
etc) however the common claim is that their arguments are just as valid as the

b) Because there is no evidence of God - To this I would simply note the commonly
used adage in investigation: "In order for your answer to be a good one, you don't
need to answer your answer." If we were to accept the proposition that one cannot
infer God due to the fact that the objector claims there is no evidence for God, we
ignore the fact that the Kalam is being used as evidence for God. But lets suppose
we do take this bait, accept the challenge, and present the Fine Tuning Argument as
further proof of God. Alas, we cannot affirm the reality of a deity until we prove he
exists, and so we have failed to provide proof of our proof of God. But suppose we
appeal to the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus as even further proof. Alas,
again, this haunts us. We cannot assert Christ as God until we prove God exists. And
so we must give proof of our proof of our proof. But to even take this one step
further as the apologist asserts that the existence of Objective Moral Values is
further proof of God we still cannot infer the existence of God as the best explanation
for objective moral values until we prove he exists. Thus we fail to give proof of the
proof of the proof of the proof. This will continue on until there are no more
arguments left, and if undertaken in debate, is a text book definition of shifting the
goal posts.

So as you see this logic simply is untenable. If we were required to prove something
exists before being allowed to present evidence that something exists that would do
away with all investigation involving intelligent intervention. To harken back to the
example of finding a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon, by this logic we would
not be able to appeal to this discovery as proof of extra-terrestrial intelligence until
we proved that extra-terrestrial intelligence existed, ignoring the fact that this
spacecraft alone is evident proof of that fact. And even if we were to appeal to
the "in spirit" claim that this entity is simply counter intuitive and unacceptable as an
explanation we fall back on argument from bias. Because I do not accept the answer,
the answer cannot be used. And this does not work when you consider that one
cannot rule out an explanation a-priori and exclude it from the pool of live options
unless that option can be shown to be logically impossible. A good example of this is
the claim that the universe was made by a married bachelor. This cannot be, as all
bachelors are unmarried, and so an married bachelor cannot exist.
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Old 4th March 2013, 09:15 PM
Worldslaziestbusker Worldslaziestbusker is offline
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Default Re: The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God constitutes Special Pleading


The KCA4G is appealed to as a logical proof of a deity and should be able to stand on
its own as such. It shouldn't need apriori assumptions about the conclusion because
it is lauded as being the one deistic argument that stands on its own. Needing to
appeal to other attempts at a proof of deity in order to posit your particular
conclusion negates the merit of the KCA4G as it is used in apologetics. Bringing in
your apriori cultural model of a deity makes your formulation circular. If the KCA4G
is valid, it should be able to point at a deity without needing a pre-existing model
ready at hand. It can't do that, but that doesn't seem to stop people inserting the
culturally derived model regardless.

Recognising what your brother bought as a being boat is possible because we have
collective, verifiable experience of boats. We don't have equivalent collective,

verifiable experience of deities. The concept is only available for insertion into the
Kalam because of the myths our cultures have conjured. The explanatory power of
deities is no better than "...and we call this thing magic."

Further, several bad lines of argument do not amount to a good argument, so
bringing up other lines of argument in favour of your deity, none of which stands on
its own, does not serve to make your conclusion valid. Complaining that you are
expected to provide proof upon proof upon proof only holds merit if you have
provided proof once already. None of the lines of argument you cite get anywhere
without special pleading.

Finding a spaceship on the far side of the moon would indicate a maker because we
have experience of spaceships and recognise them as made. We do not have
experience of universes as made things because we only have access to one and we
can't say intelligence was part of it coming about without making unsupported
assertions. The intelligence component of your conclusion is exactly that. You cannot
assert that an uncaused cause must be intelligent based on the cosmology you
provide without being selective about what information you include and exclude from
the model. You have chosen your preferred version and the attached attributes and
carried that forward with confidence in an attempt to make your case, but that is
special pleading. You leave anything which might contradict you aside and
concentrate on reaching your goal, an agenda I suspect is set by your existing faith
in the Christian God.
Intelligence causes its own subset of logical problems for a being alleged to exist
outside of time and space. How can a being begin to act when time is not
progressing? How does a being without access to flux in time or space collect its
thoughts or decide to act? The answer must be magic, because the nonsensical
nature of the demands placed on our ability to understand what occurs in an
atemporal, non-spatial setting cannot allow anything else. We attempt to think about
these things but we are evolved to understand causal relationships in time and
space. Our attempts to think about it fall flat because we are trying to think outside
our reference frame. Physicists describe the problem with mathematics and seek an
explanation. Theists label the problem "...and we call this god" and say they have
found an answer, but that does nothing in terms of explanation.

You admit it takes a jump to get to a deity but no reasoning as to why that deity is
more probable than any other possible explanation. The range does not need to be
infinite (nice attempt at a straw man argument, there) and you acknowledge the set
of uncaused things needs to be able to accomodate more than one thing. You have
suggested a cause that is sufficient, but have not shown that it is necessary any
more than blurn or magic. Why is your suggested cause necessarily the cause. The
KCA4G doesn't offer support for that jump any more than it offers scope to make the
bigger jump to your particular deity without special pleading.
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Old 4th March 2013, 09:16 PM
Worldslaziestbusker Worldslaziestbusker is offline
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Location: By the sea (I do like it)
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Default Re: The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God constitutes Special Pleading


Had court yesterday so luckily I have some of the day off today to post a response.
Here I'm afraid we're circling our collective wagon back around and re-asserting
previous objections to the Kalam without addressing prior rebuttals to those
complaints. On the first assertion that one cannot infer intelligence due to the fact
that we ought to be agnostic about things which could cause a universe as we have
never witnessed a universe being created, much the same way my opponent asserts
that it is only acceptable to denote a subject to be identical to a known proposition

so long as that subject is common in nature.

To this I would simply note that this is flawed reasoning as it brings with it several
hidden assumptions that go unspoken in it's delivery. When it comes to the claim
that we cannot infer such an entity as we've never encountered such a thing
happening before I would simply like to present to the reader the whole of human
history which includes in it an untold number of events which have been both
ascribed to a deity, and persons who claim to have not only personally met this
deity, but also were told in no uncertain terms that this deity was responsible for the
creation of the world. Currently alive today in the United States of America alone
there are several million people who have reportedly had near death experiences
where they personally met this deity, and approximately two thousand years ago we
have several written reports of people who interacted with and personally met this
deity who came to earth in the flesh and had a beer with us.

The hidden assumption that my opponent makes with his previous statement is that
all of these personal experiences, and all of these recorded events, are false a-prioi
in order to make the justification that one cannot infer an entity from which there is
both no evidence, and no experiential history, both of which we have a rich history
of, and both of which my opponent assumes to be false a-priori in order to maintain
this justification. I'm afraid this is simply flawed reasoning, and is citing one's own
bias as proof against an argument. If the charge in specificity is that we ought not
infer an entity from which there is no proof, or experience, while operating under the
hidden assumption that all the proof and experience we have of it is false, and then
to assert that one cannot refer to alternate proof of this due to the fact that he
claims the Kalam must stand on it's own I'm afraid that this is a textbook example of
shifting the goal posts.

Here my opponent asserts that we cannot infer a cause of the universe to a deity due
to the lack of evidence for it's existence, then simultaneously claims that we cannot
reference any evidence for it's existence as the argument must provide evidence for
it's cause while simultaneously stating that no evidence can be cited. On top of this
we are given the statement that one also cannot infer this entity due to the lack of
experiential interaction, as a boat is found often but God is not, which operates upon
the hidden assumption that the rich history of experiential interaction we have
recorded in the west is all false. I'm afraid that this is a good example of building an
arbitrary epistemological gauntlet for an argument to be put through which simply
precludes any possibility of that argument ever being accepted in its' design.

Similarly he makes the statement that the Kalam Cosmological Argument gives no
reason why this answer should be accepted above other possible answers that are
given, and again forgets that I discussed this point in my first rebuttal. It is the duty
of an argument to come to a valid conclusion from a set of true premises, it is the
duty of the apologist to present this argument as an inference to the best
explanation, and it is the duty of the opposition to erect a counter case against the
argument with inferences to alternate explanations. It is simply not the duty of the
apologist to present an argument, to then present a list of alternate possibilities, and
to compare the conclusion of the kalam to those alternate possibilities.

On that I am afraid that one again my opponent is merely shifting the goalposts in
order to attempt to call into question the validity of the Kalam. Should the apologist
be required to present alternate explanations for the conclusion and show why his
explanation should be accepted above these alternate explanations, he would be not

only strapped for time on stage and in writing, but also be doing the job of his
opponent and thus carrying the whole debate (with both burdens of proof) on his
shoulders, as his duty would be to present, object, defend, and rebuttal his own

And finally my opponent asserts that we cannot discuss the notion of an a-temporal,
spaceless, transcendent intelligence due to the fact that the notion of such brings
with it a host of problems which are largely unstated, save for the one charge that
one cannot act a-temporally as action requires temporality. To this I would make two

a) With regards to a-temporal causality the concept of simultaneous temporal
causality is one that is well known in philosophy. Cause does not need to be
temporally prior to effect, nor does it need to operate in a temporal manner in order
to be coherent. Suppose we have an a-temporal bowling ball sitting upon an a-
temporal cushion. The bowling ball is causing a crease to appear in the pillow,
however the bowling ball is not causing the crease to appear temporally prior to the
crease appearing, it is happening simultaneously. This is what is known as a cause
being logically prior to its' effect, as opposed to temporally prior. And so on the
charge that one cannot cause a-temporally I would denote that the entity in the
kalam's bringing the universe into existence occurs simultaneously with the universe
beginning to exist.

b) With regards to an entity's ability to think a-temporally. Here we see another
hidden assumption, and that is that all intelligent entities must think in a manner
which is temporal and ordered in temporal progression from one thought to another.
To this I would note that a being who is a-temporal and omniscient, in that it has all
it's knowledge simultaneously, would not need to think in a temporal progressive
manner as it would already know all tensed facts.

But even despite these two notes as to the incoherency of a temporal mind we still
bring forward, from this objection, a logical inconsistency which I would like to
illuminate. In stating the problems with an a-temporal cause which is intelligent my
opponent has asserted that this entity cannot think, or act, in an a-temporal fashion
because it violates the rules and understandings of temporal causality. However with
this my opponent has done nothing more than demand that a transcendent, a-
temporal, infinite entity must think in a non-transcendent, temporal, and finite
manner otherwise it cannot be transcendent, a-temporal, or infinite. I'm afraid that
again this is simply rigging the game before getting to the table. It would be akin to
stating that a fish cannot breathe with it's gills as all terrestrial animals breathe with
lungs which preclude gills in their function. The two entities are simply in different

And to this I would like to conclude that the rebuttals put forth in my opponents
previous statement are examples of attempting to rig the argument for failure a-
priori and citing this action as proof against it's claims. In his rebuttal my opponent
has asserted that the apologist must not only present defeaters to his own
arguments on stage, but rebuttal them, thus taking on the job of both debaters. He
has also asserted that the apologist must not infer an entity for which there is no
proof, or experiential history, while simultaneously claiming that no proof is allowed
to be given, and operating under the hidden assumption that all experiential history
is false. This, I'm afraid, is not a rebuttal to the argument, but rather an exercise in
demanding that the rules of the debate be altered to ensure failure on the part of his

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Old 4th March 2013, 09:16 PM
Worldslaziestbusker Worldslaziestbusker is offline
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Default Re: The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God constitutes Special Pleading


My opponent began well in his attempt to show the Kalam makes a sound case for
the existence of a deity, not in that the arguments at hand were good, but by
avoiding all the accessory arguments for a deity which theists usually attempt to tack
on to their central argument, as though several bad lines of reasoning can add up to
a single good one. In his last rebuttal, any pretense that the Kalam can stand on its
own without special pleading was thrown to the wind.
The flaw in trying to use personal revelation to bolster an argument have been
debated a good deal here and in other contexts, and a thorough rebuttal of
Lawlessone's attempt to use it in his argument is beyond the scope of this debate, let
alone a rounding up comment, but I look forward to revisiting the issue if Lawlessone
would like to explore the matter in a third debate on the topic "Personal revelations
cannot justify collective faith." It is also beyond the scope of a final comment to
dispute the attempts my opponent made at straw manning my position in his final
post beyond noting the attempt and marking it for attention in the wider forum at a
later date.

The Kalam is cited as the logical proof of deity by apologists, offering succour to
people whose faith might otherwise falter through lack of compelling evidence, but
who lack the will or the reasoning skills to examine the proposition on its merits. As
with so much of religion, people take it on authority. Foremost among this school of
apologetics is William Lane Craig. As Doctor Craig does not take on written debates, I
am gratified that one of his most vocal advocates at the Reasonable Faith Forums
agreed to take me on on the topic and feel I have handled the matter as I would,
and as I would need to, if facing William Lane Craig himself.
The KCA4G cannot show a deity exists without special pleading.
Those who assert that only a deity could answer the question the KCA poses iff the
premises are sound fail to accomodate more than one possiblity in the set of
uncaused things, which cannot be achieved without ignoring the possibility of other
Those who make a show of playing knock-em down with proposed possibilities treat
the system under examination as a false dichotomy (trichotomy, quad etc.) by
ignoring the possibilities which haven't been assessed. Making their choice the
default option fails to assess their choice on its merits and fails to account for
possibilities not yet posited, and the possibility that the explanation that fits the need
may not be accessible to us. Decrying "I don't know" as an unsatisfying response
does not automatically make whatever explanation you have to hand valid.
Those who use a-priori assumptions of deity or attempt to bring in alternate lines of
evidence deny the Kalam the opportunity to do the job apologists require of it - to
stand on its own as a proof for the necessity of a deity.
My opponent has attempted two of these three strategies and thrown straw men and
an argument from authority my way. I don't think I needed five posts and a
summing up to show that the KCA4G constitutes special pleading, but it has been an
interesting journey. I would like to sign off by asking my opponent to consider the
ethical ramifications of holding the Kalam up as a shining example of a logical proof
of god on such shaky grounds. People look to leaders and philosophers such as my
opponent for guidance in their thinking. To apply logical fallacies in providing them
reassurance for their faith, you tacitly accept responsibility for their deciding to carry

on with their faith. Faith can cause people to act in ways we find abhorrent, and if
anyone who ever turned to you for advice and found their faith bolstered by your
arguments then went on to cause harm to others because of that faith, you are
partly to blame for that harm. The proportion might not be high, but your
arguments, built on fallacious grounds, constitute part of the causal chain of events
that would stem from you offering fallacious support for the unsupported beliefs of
others. That is why I find apologetics so distasteful and argue against attempts to
use reason to defend faith at every opportunity. There's a reason why it's called faith
- it's because reason can't serve the beliefs people want to hold.
The KCA4G does not stand on its own and should not be put forward as a logical
proof of deity because it is unethical to do so, both in terms of philosophical honesty
and potential real world outcomes.

I would like to thank my opponent for taking the debate on and hope he was sincere
in his offer to take on a debate about religious harm.
Thanks to the forum admin for dusting off the debate forum after a long fallow period.
Thanks finally to Xeno who acted as intermediary between Lawlessone and I when
my account could no longer make posts at the RFF. I don't like sock puppets and
wasn't willing to be one myself, so I am grateful for your efforts.
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