PHILOSOPHY – Religion: Cosmological Argument #1 [HD]

PHILOSOPHY – Religion: Cosmological Argument #1 [HD]

(intro music) Hello, I’m Dr. Timothy Yenter, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Mississippi. I’ll be talking about the[br]cosmological argument, which we’ll be breaking[br]down into a couple of parts. Now, the cosmological argument is an argument for the existence of God, and like most arguments for[br]the existence of God, it gets its name from its starting point. The cosmological argument[br]starts from the existence of the cosmos, which is the collection of everything that exists. The basic idea at the heart[br]of the various versions of the cosmological argument is that the existence of something, this rock, that bird[br]flying, this universe, requires an explanation. This is often phrased[br]in the following way: the existence of this object,[br]or the whole universe, demands that there be a cause, and this cause must be God. Notice that this is really[br]a two-stage argument. The first stage is to establish[br]that there must be a cause. The second stage is to explain[br]what this cause is like. In these talks, I will be[br]focusing on the first stage, but at the end I’ll[br]have a little bit to say about what we could know about the cause of the universe from these arguments. The cosmological argument[br]has two versions. It actually has many versions, but I’ll be talking about two of them. The first one, I’ll call[br]”the beginnings argument.” It’s sometimes also called[br]”the Kalam argument.” Then the second one is the modal argument. And I’ll explain what those terms mean. You don’t need to know what they are yet. The beginnings argument is that whatever begins to[br]exist must have a cause. The universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe must have a cause. Two premises and a conclusion. A very simple, direct argument, but one with potentially[br]profound implications. We’ll begin by examining[br]the second premise. There are two kinds of[br]arguments that attempt to show that the second premise is true: philosophical arguments[br]and scientific arguments. The philosophical arguments attempt to rule out the possibility[br]that the universe exists, but has no beginning. So let’s think about this first. Chances are, you’re watching[br]this on a computer. Where did your computer come from? Well, it was probably[br]assembled in a factory from a variety of metals and plastics, which were, in turn, formed[br]or refined in factories from materials present in the earth. These elements in the earth were formed through various natural processes over long periods of time. Each step of the way,[br]there was some combination of matter and energy. And at each of these steps,[br]we could talk about where that matter and energy came from, by describing some[br]previous state of the world that contained matter and energy. And we could explain that by going back to an earlier stage, and so on. At each step, there is[br]a cause that explains why things are the way the are. In theory, this kind of[br]explanation could go on forever. Or could it? Does it make sense to talk about an infinite series of causes? Well, we seem to deal with[br]infinite series all the time. For instance, there is an[br]infinite series of whole numbers, that is, one, two, three, four, and so on. And we have an OK grasp of what[br] that means in some obscure way. But does it make sense to say that there is an infinite series that has actually passed by now? This would be more like someone counting off the whole numbers, one per second. If someone were to say “one” at the first second, and “two” at the next second, and so on, could they have gone through an infinite number of seconds by now? Now, that’s tough. A lot of ink has been spilled over whether there are real or only imagined paradoxes involving infinite series. Some have claimed that[br]there is no problem at all with infinite series already passed. For instance, just to mention one. Imagine a super counter. A super counter is someone[br]who counts like this: In the first second, they say “one.” In the next half second, they say “two.” In the next quarter second,[br]they say “three.” In the next eighth second,[br]they say “four.” Super counting this way, they could count an infinite number of times before the next second passes. As long as at least two seconds[br]have passed in the universe, and we could all agree to that, then an infinite series has passed. Now some philosophers[br]have argued that this is the wrong sort of infinite series. Something to think about is whether causes could work in this super counting way. But we will set this aside,[br]because there’s another way to defend the second[br]premise of this version of the cosmological argument. The second kind of support for the claim that the universe had a beginning is that this is what our best science has shown. Isn’t the big bang just a claim that the universe had a beginning of a particular, interesting sort? We have considered objections[br]to the second premise. What about objections[br]to the first premise? An important objection[br]to the first premise is that the principle is a good one, but it’s a good principle within the universe. It’s not a principle that can be applied to the universe as a whole. This objection could be[br]stated in various ways. A specific version of this response is that the big bang is not a beginning as we usually think of beginnings. It is not a beginning[br]of something in time, but the beginning of time itself. So the usual rules do not apply. A second way to put this objection: by saying that there is a fallacy of composition going on. A fallacy of composition is saying that because the parts of an[br]object all have a property, then so must the whole. It’s a fallacy because,[br]while it seems attractive, it’s not a reliable argument. Consider this argument. All the atoms of your body are invisible to the naked eye. Your body is just these atoms. Therefore, your body is invisible[br]to the naked eye. But this conclusion is obviously false, even though both the premises are true. Is the same mistake happening in the case of the universe having a cause because it has a beginning, in the same way that[br]things within the universe must have a cause because[br]they have a beginning? Is there some mistake[br]going on from the move from the part to the whole? Perhaps to answer this question will turn on whether[br]or not we can establish that the principle stated[br]in the first premise is only true in our universe, or is a metaphysical[br]principle that applies to the universe itself. We will consider this issue more as we work through the other version of the cosmological argument in the next video. Subtitles by the community

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  1. The idea that in order for our universe to occur it would require "counting" through an infinite number of steps to get to that possibility is wrong. Infinity would contain an infinite number of universes exactly like ours, infinity doesn't make things impossible it makes them inevitable.

  2. Hi Phookadude,

    I don't think the video says that an infinite number of cause-and-effect events need to occur for our universe to exist. The videos says that this notion doesn't seem to make sense. The unlikelihood of the universe coming from an infinite series of cause-and-effect events is precisely the grounds for having the Cosmological Argument.

    You also said "infinity would contain an infinite number of universes…" I don't quite understand what that means. Can you clarify?

  3. Infinity isn't a number it's the set of all numbers. If you have an infinite series of numbers how many times does the number "4" appear in that set?; an infinite number of times, like wise "42" or "429835671" any finite number will occur an infinite number of times in a infinite set of numbers. The universe represents a finite state; so if there is an infinity that the universe comes from there are infinite copies of the universe in it.

  4. Hi Phookadude,

    Are you saying that an infinite number of cause-and-effect events will give rise to an infinite number of universes? Any version of the universe must exist, because there are an infinite number of them? Is that your thought?

  5. Or a better rebuttal to the "scientific" evidence for the kalam cosmological evidence is that the big bang theory doesn't state that the universe began to exist, but that at some point in "time" all the matter in the universe was condensed in a singularity.

  6. 3:20 yes, yes it does make perfect sense to speak about infinite causes. And the premise that "everything that begins to exist" is already completely unfounded because there is no reason to conclude that anything has ever began to exist. The first law of thermodynamics/law of conservation of energy states that nothing begins to exist or ceases to exist.

  7. The supercounter thing does not work because there IS a smallest unit of meaningful time, so in order to actually "count" you'd have to pause at least that amount of time to count again.

  8. The cosmological argument is very weak. It assumes the universe has to have a cause, but no one has ever managed to prove this. 

  9. Isn't it also a fallacy to consider the universe as a thing? Space, time and the whole of it, are tough 'things' to ascribe qualities to. Its just a question about how we should define it, not about what it is. (Because 'IT' isn't)

  10. If an infinity has occurred does it not then lose its infinity definition? Once something has stopped occurring it must be defined as finite, right?

  11. "The Big Bang Theory shows us that the universe had a beginning" [5:30]
    Wrong. It only tells us that in the past the universe was hot and dense, NOT that it began to exist.

  12. I don't see any inconsistency about an actual infinite existing physically. In math, a function or set of functions can fill an actual infinite, and physicists seem to agree all physical reality can be described in terms of perhaps a single mathematical function.
    Or it could be the big bang is the true beginning of everything and physical reality is a ray function. Either way is mathematically sound.

  13. Things can't be infinite in a finite universe. Physics is like math but it is stuck in our universe so limits. Math and philosophy can exceed those limits and understand the whole of the multiverse

  14. No creator god exists, the term god has been falsified and distorted in earths history. The Gods of the earth were human. The term  god, is nothing more than another term for "King of Wisdom." It is a purely human title assigned to humans who were particularly knowledgeable, wise, and who possessed great mastery in everything. This term's significance, however, was distorted and falsified by humans on Earth, particularly by the early religions and those experienced in profiting from using the word.

  15. The argument is obviously brain dead because, firstly, it has not been established that "everything must have a cause", and secondly, if it was true, gods would have to have a cause, too.

  16. If an infinite series of events has happened up until now, then

    1. everything which could have happened has already happened.

    If everything is contingent (is not necessary), then

    2. it is possible for nothing to exist.

    If at some point nothing ever existed, then

    3. nothing could exist now, since nothing can come from nothing (everything needs a cause).

    So, we must reject either 1 or 2 (3 is self-evident).

    Reject 1, that the universe is an infinite series of causes which already happened:

    Then the universe came into being at some point and requires a cause. This cause we call God.

    Or, reject 2, that everything is contingent:

    Then, there must be some being which exists by necessity, and this we call God.

    Therefore, God exists of necessity.


  17. philosophically the word [god] used as a hypothetical construct to explain observable changes and effects.
    it's just so crazy it might work … until religion is omitted I highly doubt it though.

  18. ROOT CAUSE — A war was started in heaven over property rights, namely, the right to own excessive wealth, is it greater then the right of the starving to stay alive. And so, the only reason for our Universe being created is to allow the one billion most intelligent to starve to death the one billion least intelligent and for the 6 billion most indifferent to seek all pleasure and avoid all pain.

  19. The Cosmological Argument was debunked a thousand years ago but William Lane Craig rediscovered it and began preaching it. So here we go again.
    The Cosmos had a beginning and god is eternal. Therefore god must have created the Cosmos.
    Here's the reverse claim.
    The Cosmos is eternal but god had a beginning. Therefore the Cosmos has no need for a god to create it.
    Conclusion: I cannot prove the Cosmos is eternal but I can prove that god exists. All I have to say is I believe in god and it becomes true for me.
    And you cannot prove me wrong.

  20. Thomas Aquinas even rejected this argument because you can't philosophically prove the universe had a beginning, or that isn't part of a multiverse. His cosmological argument worked whether the universe had a beginning or not, but sadly, this argument seems to have taken the stage.

  21. The universe is fake.
    There's only 1 planet. Earth. And it's FLAT! The other so called planets are just NASA LIES! And your telescopes are fkin liars too!

  22. With all your so-called complex postulation it all comes down to FAITH; either you believe in God of you don’t. To try to explain or qualify the existence God is a fools errand at best.

  23. Something that proves God exists, is his creation, everything from small as an atom to big as the universe, is made to perfection, its impossible for nothing to make everything, because if it was nothing it would stay nothing, when you see a building it proves that theres builders , when you see a painting it proves that theres painters, if we follow logic, a building cant make it self , in the Quran it says "Do they not look at the sky above them?- How We have made it and adorned it, and there are no flaws in it?" When you see the sky , its perfect and couldn't have been any better, because all Gods creation is made to perfection

  24. I think we can agree this is above our heads, whether you believe in God or not. It takes faith to be a religious believer OR an atheist! Lol. Just don't get mad an abusive, please. We all have emotions in this whether we admit it or not.

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