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Craig vs Krauss

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Jason Dulle

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« Reply #30 on: April 25, 2011, 05:00:34 pm »
Quote from: fredonly
I agree, and I'll point out that Craig uses a semantic trick to (seemingly) win his debate.  He has a plausible argument (not a proof) that the universe has a cause, and with a wave of the hands he labels this cause, "God."  Next he starts heaping onto this, the attributes he thinks "God" possesses.  Some are more plausible than others (e.g. "powerful" makes sense "all-powerful" is a leap; "personal agent" fails completely). Krauss, the amateur debater, failed to jump on this but he did make one comment that this "cause" of the universe, which Craig labels "God"  is the multiverse.  
This makes me wonder if you've ever listened to Craig's presentation of the kalam argument.  Craig does not just label the cause of the universe God.  He argues for thinking that the cause of the universe is the God of theism.  He notes that as the cause of space, time, and matter, the cause must be spacesless, eternal, and immaterial.  Furthermore, since the physical constants are fine-tuned, the cause must be intelligent.  It must also be immensely powerful to bring all the energy of the universe into being out of no preexisting materials.  Finally, Craig argues that the cause must be personal because only a personal agent with freedom of the will could exist for eternity, and yet delay the effect of the universe's creation until a finite time ago.

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Fred

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« Reply #31 on: April 25, 2011, 08:57:59 pm »
         
Posted by fredonly
Quote:
I  agree, and I'll point out that Craig uses a semantic trick to  (seemingly) win his debate.  He has a plausible argument (not a proof)  that the universe has a cause, and with a wave of the hands he labels  this cause, "God."  Next he starts heaping onto this, the attributes he  thinks "God" possesses.  Some are more plausible than others (e.g.  "powerful" makes sense "all-powerful" is a leap; "personal agent" fails  completely). Krauss, the amateur debater, failed to jump on this but he  did make one comment that this "cause" of the universe, which Craig  labels "God"  is the multiverse.  
This  makes me wonder if you've ever listened to Craig's presentation of the  kalam argument.  Craig does not just label the cause of the universe  God.  He argues for thinking that the cause of the universe is the God  of theism.  He notes that as the cause of space, time, and matter, the  cause must be spacesless, eternal, and immaterial.  Furthermore, since  the physical constants are fine-tuned, the cause must be intelligent.   It must also be immensely powerful to bring all the energy of the  universe into being out of no preexisting materials.  Finally, Craig  argues that the cause must be personal because only a personal agent  with freedom of the will could exist for eternity, and yet delay the  effect of the universe's creation until a finite time ago.

I've listened to quite a few of his debates, and have read one of his books (the debate with Quentin Smith).  

And as an aside, I'll say that IMO Craig "wins" nearly all of his verbal debates. The book he co-wrote with Smith is a draw. He lost his debate with Bart Ehrman.

Regarding Craig's arguments that you mentioned, you're right that he "notes" that the cause of space, time, and matter must be spaceless,  and immaterial. One correction: he does not say it is eternal- he says it is timeless.  

The first semantic problem is with his argument supporting the first premise, that everything that "begins to exist" has a cause for existing. Few seem to notice that he gives no examples of anything "beginning to exist."  His examples are of transformations of matter and energy.  There is at most ONE thing that ever began to exist: the universe itself (and it's debatable about whether the universe actually DID begin to exist.)

There are problems with some of the characteristics he mentions, in particular "immaterial." It certainly does not follow from the argument, he just declares it.  It is no coincidence that this characteristic is consistent with "God."  This seems a semantic trick (not that Craig is being dishonest; I am convinced he is thoroughly sincere.  But he has a Christian bias).  To declare it "immaterial" already implies something like a supernatural realm or entity.

The fine-tuning argument is not deductive, it is an argument from ignorance, a 'god of the gaps' argument.  It's an assertion that assumes a key characteristic of "God."  Using the term, "fine tuning" has the semantic connotation that implies the act of a tuner.  (I know Craig didn't coin the term, but that's beside the point.  It still has semantic power that aids his argument).

Regarding "power" - this is another "God characteristic" that he's assuming.  It's not unreasonable to assume that if the universe was caused, that the cause possessed a higher level of energy than contained in the initial universe.  "Power" is an anthropomorphic term.

Finally, it is Craig's assumption that there is no "preexisting material" ties to his argument that the cause was "immaterial."   What's the basis for assuming the material of the universe did not exist in another form?  "Creation" is an assumption, not a deduction.

Even with the "creation" assumption, I see no rationale for the creative entity to be considered a "personal agent."  Craig doesn't say that only a personal agent exist for "eternity" - he says it existed timelessly.   Craig admits that God did not precede creation temporally. "Timeless" implies a frozen moment of time, that God was an unchanging, crystalline entity (Craig admits this).  How can an unchanging crystalline entity make a choice to create anything? The "choice" had to be imbedded in his unchanging existence -  so it was essentially fated.  What is "personal" about such an entity?      






Fred

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Sandspirit

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« Reply #32 on: April 26, 2011, 03:49:15 am »

Fine, but that's not the same thing as the absolute beginning of material reality. That is the question that Craig is speaking to when he talks about the origin of contingent beings. But since there was a beginning to physical reality (whether you want to identify it with this universe, or billions of universes prior to this one), ultimately one will get back to a state in which something is not preceded by something else. And when you reach that stage, physics is no longer capable of providing answers because there are no physics of non-being.

We don't know there was an absolute beginning to physical reality. We "know" or it's generally held to be true that the universe has a beginning. We don't know that the distinction between natural and supernatural is really meaningful. It's one of the implications of quantum physics (imo) that there's no brick wall between what we conceive of as matter and postulate as immaterial.

Please don't confuse me with someone who believes science is the answer but I do think that behind a comment like 2+2=5 from someone who studies the quantum world there may be illuminating information that should not be ignored for the sake of "winning" a debate.

A format where it's possible to stop an say, "hey that's really interesting, what do you mean?" would be far more useful than these gladatorial, sound-bite driven exchanges. And you can see the debate format mirrored in this forum where most exchanges are little more than exercises in point scoring (rather than meaningful enquiry).  


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Fred

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« Reply #33 on: April 26, 2011, 07:44:37 pm »
 
We "know" or it's generally held to be true that the universe has a  beginning.
Although cosmologists tend to agree that the universe began at the big bang, they do not agree that this was an act of creation, with nothing preceding it.  In terms of what they consider "known" - they can take our universe back to Planck time, and no further.  Before that is unknown territory.  This, of course, creates a gap - one suitable for filling with a "god" if one chooses to do so.  But there are definitely hypotheses about the "before big bang" period, including a number of multiverse models.  


We don't know that the distinction between natural and  supernatural is really meaningful.
Yes, this seems to me to be a leap to insist there must be a "supernatural" to explain the "beginning to exist" of the natural world.  
Fred

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Sandspirit

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« Reply #34 on: April 27, 2011, 07:17:37 am »
You've missed the point completely. I noted that physicists use math. It's integral to physics. But numbers, mathematical axioms, and equations are not physical entities. They are immaterial entities that physicists use to describe physical phenomenon. As such, it is not the scientists who can tell us what mathematics is and how it works, but the philosopher.


Did you have a particular philosopher in mind? And the question contains the problem because if you choose 10 philosophers at random it's certain you'll get up to 10 different explanations of "how mathematics works". Philosophers can't agree on anything so it's hard to see how philosophers can be relied upon to tell us how anything works even if they do view "non physical entities" as within their purview.  Call me old fashioned but if I want to know about mathematics I'll ask a mathematician.

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Ian Smithers

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« Reply #35 on: April 27, 2011, 11:52:36 pm »

Sandspirit wrote: Things can be and are particles and waves at the same time, things are in two different places at one time, particles appear to go backwards through time, particles spring into being without a cause. And yes I suppose in this world perhaps 2+2 could equal 5. I'm more interested in Krauss' opinion on that than I am in yours or Craig's.

The 2+2=5 thing is just to do with floating point accuracy.  It's just a joke, and Krauss showed it as WLC said that mathematical truths like 2+2=4 do not change, and suddenly become 2+2=5, or something along those lines.  WLC was obviously talking on a general, casual level.  Just like everyone does when they talk about these things using analogies like 1+1=2 and so on.  No one stops them and says, "Well... not always, I mean if you are only showing whole numbers, and in fact they are floating point numbers larger than 2.49-> then ... blah blah etc".  I don't know why people are jumping all over this 2+2=5 thing, as Kraus intended it as a joke, and perhaps because it's a technical joke people don't get it.  I don't know.  It doesn't swing one way or another though.

In regards to the particles and quantum mechanics stuff, my understanding of this is that there is odd behaviour on the sub-atomic level.  However, there are distinctions which should be made, and as per usual, these distinctions are very, very rarely made:

Particles do not appear and disappear without any cause, a transferal of energy causes particles to appear from the quantum vacuum, and then when the energy dissipates, the particle returns (it is assumed).

Scientists very rarely study individual particles, they study particle states as this yields more information.

In regards to a particle appearing in the same place at the same time that is an oversimplification.  This is an interpretation of a quantum mechanics hypothesis. (ie Everything exists in all possible positions in the probability plane, until actually observed - an internet video took this and warped it to make it seem more sci-fi).

Additionally, nearly all of these things are in fact, hypothesies, they are not established and there are many interpretations.  In popular-level media, people seem to just adopt these things, and to them the word hypothesis and theory mean the same thing, in addition the following the statements mean the same thing:

"Particles may exist in multiple places at once."
"Particles do exist in multiple places at once."

The first one, becomes the second one, almost effortlessly I've noticed.  So we go from a view of quantum mechanics, to a popular-level hypothesis, to a popular-level fact/truth.  So watch out for words like, "may", "theorise", "perhaps", "believe" and so forth.  As those are all uncertain terms, which get turned into concrete so, so easily by popular level media, and their readers.

Also if it's not from a science journal, then it's more than likely just casual hype.  

Another point is that particles do not travel backwards in time, in actuality.  This was a mathematical trick implemented by scientists Dirac and Feynman, in order to allow theorists to more easily understand the observed behaviour.  Think of it like x = y * 0.5, where instead you rewrite it as 2x = y ; that's a simplistic example, but you get the idea.  This is part of what WLC mentioned, in that mathematically infinities are used to help us with our theorems and hypothesies, but they don't actually exist in real life.  Which is really crazy to me that Krauss, being a physicist of all things, just didn't get that!

So as said, there are distinctions which need to be made, and they are very rarely made.  I can appreciate ooberman's comment which is that people do get defensive and that prevents them from seeing the actual arguments, but it's my mind that this debate with Krauss was actually almost pointless, as Krauss didn't have an understanding of these distinctions as well as WLC did, which made it very confusing for the listeners.


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Sandspirit

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« Reply #36 on: April 28, 2011, 02:27:14 am »
Additionally, nearly all of these things are in fact, hypothesies, they are not established and there are many interpretations. In popular-level media, people seem to just adopt these things, and to them the word hypothesis and theory mean the same thing, in addition the following the statements mean the same thing:

"Particles may exist in multiple places at once."
"Particles do exist in multiple places at once."



I agree that almost every explanation for quantum mechanics is a hypothesis. Physicists, including Krauss, acknowledge that they don't understand the quantum level. The particle/wave duality behaviour I think is well established as a behaviour via the two slit experiment although there's no explanation for the behaviour itself. It is clear however, precisely because quantum events cannot be explained, that matter and therefore our reality is far stranger than we like to believe as we go about our day to day business. I don't really see how a philosophy based on simplistic syllogisms can help us to unravel these issues.

Another point is that particles do not travel backwards in time, in actuality. This was a mathematical trick implemented by scientists Dirac and Feynman, in order to allow theorists to more easily understand the observed behaviour. Think of it like x = y * 0.5, where instead you rewrite it as 2x = y ; that's a simplistic example, but you get the idea. This is part of what WLC mentioned, in that mathematically infinities are used to help us with our theorems and hypothesies, but they don't actually exist in real life. Which is really crazy to me that Krauss, being a physicist of all things, just didn't get that!


How do you know for sure that particles don't travel backwards in time when this is disputed among physicists. You can't on the one hand claim that everything said about quantum mechanics is a hypothesis except the things you want to be true. And how exactly can WLC and your good self be so certain that infinities don't exist in real life? Sure you can believe it to be true but trying to squash all the possibilities inherent in our existence into a watertight set of logical boundaries just seems silly.



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Ian Smithers

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« Reply #37 on: April 28, 2011, 02:30:52 am »
Sandspirit wrote: I agree that almost every explanation for quantum mechanics is a hypothesis. Physicists, including Krauss, acknowledge that they don't understand the quantum level. The particle/wave duality behaviour I think is well established as a behaviour via the two slit experiment although there's no explanation for the behaviour itself. It is clear however, precisely because quantum events cannot be explained, that matter and therefore our reality is far stranger than we like to believe as we go about our day to day business. I don't really see how a philosophy based on simplistic syllogisms can help us to unravel these issues.
What issues are you referring to?

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Sandspirit

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« Reply #38 on: April 28, 2011, 02:53:44 am »
What issues are you referring to?


The nature of reality, the mysteries of existence, all of which WLC seems to believe he already has sufficient information about.

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Ian Smithers

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« Reply #39 on: April 28, 2011, 03:13:48 am »
Sandspirit wrote:
What issues are you referring to?


The nature of reality, the mysteries of existence, all of which WLC seems to believe he already has sufficient information about.

Well once again, and this is what a previous poster mentioned to you, philosophy doesn't have a monopoly on these issues, it's a tool in the toolbox.

I really don't know where this idea has come frome, that one shoe fits all.  You are mixing several things up here.  The mysteries of existence is about as vague of a term as I can possibly think of, you may as well have said, 'everything.  That's like asking for information on something, and someone just sends you a link to 'the internet'.

In respects to the nature of reality, I think that's where philosophy has it's strong point, as it deals specifically with logical truths, and thought experiments, all of which are useful in opening up lines of inquirey within other fields, to investigate our reality.


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Sandspirit

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« Reply #40 on: April 28, 2011, 03:27:49 am »

Well once again, and this is what a previous poster mentioned to you, philosophy doesn't have a monopoly on these issues, it's a tool in the toolbox.

I really don't know where this idea has come frome, that one shoe fits all. You are mixing several things up here. The mysteries of existence is about as vague of a term as I can possibly think of, you may as well have said, 'everything. That's like asking for information on something, and someone just sends you a link to 'the internet'.

In respects to the nature of reality, I think that's where philosophy has it's strong point, as it deals specifically with logical truths, and thought experiments, all of which are useful in opening up lines of inquirey within other fields, to investigate our reality.


The mysteries of existence is indeed a vague term and our knowledge of the nature of our existence is equally vague. I'm coming to the conclusion that philosophy obfuscates rather than clarifies, and in the case of Dr Craig it's just a means of "proving" something he already "knows" to be true beyond doubt. And this is why his arguments are so satisfying for his followers and largely meaningless for those who don't share his particular faith.  

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Ian Smithers

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« Reply #41 on: April 28, 2011, 03:45:51 am »

Sandspirit wrote: The mysteries of existence is indeed a vague term and our knowledge of the nature of our existence is equally vague. I'm coming to the conclusion that philosophy obfuscates rather than clarifies, and in the case of Dr Craig it's just a means of "proving" something he already "knows" to be true beyond doubt. And this is why his arguments are so satisfying for his followers and largely meaningless for those who don't share his particular faith.
If you feel it obfuscates rather than clarifies, then I would say your understanding of philosophy is limited.  Which is odd as you must surely use philosophy every single day in your life, as do we all.  Philosophy touches science, mathematics, logic, law, language, aesthetics.  In fact essentially almost any academic subject you can think of, has an element of philosophy.  So either you scored very, very badly in all your subjects, or you actually have no issues with using philosophy at all, unless it's to do with God.  Then BAM! bias-central, can't use philosophy here, as it just obfuscates things and is totally negligable as an evidential claim.

Color me shocked.  No really.


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Sandspirit

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« Reply #42 on: April 28, 2011, 03:54:38 am »

If you feel it obfuscates rather than clarifies, then I would say your understanding of philosophy is limited. Which is odd as you must surely use philosophy every single day in your life, as do we all. Philosophy touches science, mathematics, logic, law, language, aesthetics. In fact essentially almost any academic subject you can think of, has an element of philosophy. So either you scored very, very badly in all your subjects, or you actually have no issues with using philosophy at all, unless it's to do with God. Then BAM! bias-central, can't use philosophy here, as it just obfuscates things and is totally negligable as an evidential claim.

Color me shocked. No really.


I'm aware that philosophy is used habitually and yes I still think it obfuscates rather than clarifies.

On WLC, I'm simply pointing out that he doesn't touch anyone with his arguments except those within his own circle of belief and certainty.

Do you actually want to discuss and exchange or just score points?


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Ian Smithers

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« Reply #43 on: April 28, 2011, 04:39:40 am »

Sandspirit wrote: I'm aware that philosophy is used habitually and yes I still think it obfuscates rather than clarifies.
Then how do you explain the enlightenment era, and all the progress we have made?  Clearly it doesn't obfuscate.

Sandspirit wrote: On WLC, I'm simply pointing out that he doesn't touch anyone with his arguments except those within his own circle of belief and certainty.
Says...?  You.  How do you know this?

Sandspirit wrote: Do you actually want to discuss and exchange or just score points?
I'm pretty OK with just scoring points at the moment.  Busy day and all that.

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TheQuestion

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« Reply #44 on: April 28, 2011, 05:02:06 am »
Sandspirit wrote: m aware that philosophy is used habitually and yes I still think it obfuscates rather than clarifies.

You're confusing philosophy with sophistry.  See, philosophy is great, and sophistry is evil.