A.J perez

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Serious objection to Kalam argument
« on: August 25, 2011, 03:29:43 pm »
Hello everyone.Im A.J and I have been an admirer of Dr. Craig's work on the Kalam cosmological argument. I say that I have a pretty good grasp of the argument and it makes sense.Recently I came across a paper written by a professor at the university of albany.His name is Josh Dever. He critiqued the Kalam based on the premise that an actual infinite in the real world is not at all absurd any more than it would be absurd in the mathematical. His argument I think can be summarized as follows:There is no reason to believe that there is a discontinuation between the real world and the mathematical world. If it makes sense in the mathematical world it can make sense in the physical world.
He goes on to demonstrate how in his analysis, there in fact is no absurdity in such paradoxes as the infinite library or tristram shandy paradox and can be properly understood without it being incoherent in the real world.
Here is the link to the paper:
https://webspace.utexas.edu/deverj/personal/papers/worlds.pdf

Anyways this seems like a serious objection and not like those banal objections one finds on youtube.I believe it deserves an adequate response.
Now I dont expect to get an answer from Dr. Craig himself since I understand he's very busy and either way Im not even sure he participates in this open forum. But I am aware that ocassionaly James Sinclair visits the open forum.
Indeed I would be content to get feedback from anyone with an above average understanding of the subject, preferably to have a counter rebuttal to the above objections.  

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Fred

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Serious objection to Kalam argument
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2011, 11:15:52 am »
I think the author succeeds in demonstrating that the apparent contradictions of infinities do not refute the possibility of an actual infinity.  It's a mapping problem, and limitation (or misapplication) of cantorian set theory.  

On the other hand, the author fails to show that an actual infinite is possible.  Towards the end of the paper, he states:

We thus distinguish two senses in which an actually infinite collection can be created through successive addition:

(A) An actually infinite collection is created particularly through successive addition if some act of addition creates an infinite collection out of a finite collection.

(B) An actually infinite collection is created procedurally through successive addition if the process of successive addition, carried through to completion, creates an infinite collection.

He correctly states that (A) is impossible, but his statement (B) is invalid.  While it is true that a procedure can be defined to successively perform an addition, such a procedure cannot be "carried through to completion."  It is not completeable.   In terms of mapping it to reality, what is infinite is the process: it goes on and on without end, never completing.  This is precisely what future time is all about: a potential.  In the real world, all infinities are just potentials.  Therein lies the fundamental problem with a past infinity: the past has no potential; the past is completed.  

I noticed one additional bit of handwaving in the paper:
Consider the following example: assume that God by fiat creates an actually infinite collection of objects. He does so en masse to avoid worries about whether even God can create actual infinities by successive addition; Craig's earlier arguments against the mere existence of an actually infinite collection of physical objects being defeated there is no objection to such en masse creation.

The author is overlooking the fact that God can't do the impossible (he can't create a square circle or a married bachelor). He can only create an actual infinity, if it is possible for an actual infinity to exist.  So the author is affirming the consequent, assuming an actual infinity is possible, suggesting that God can create one, thus "proving" an actual infinity is possible!  

I do think Craig should drop the paradox arguments and focus on the apparent impossibility of a completed infinity. BTW, I say "apparent impossibility" because even this is not a mathematical proof; it is an inductive argument using a vague mapping between the mathematical properties of infinities and the thought experiments we perform with our metaphysical concepts of infinity.


Fred

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A.J perez

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Serious objection to Kalam argument
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2012, 02:13:17 am »
After having read the paper again, I believe that the only way out for Craig if he wants to maintain that the paradoxes he presents are truly absurd and agrue from them that the infinite is impossible is for him to deny mathematical legitimacy to the infinite and subscribe to mathematical finitism.

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John M

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Serious objection to Kalam argument
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2012, 01:40:51 pm »
kuartus4 wrote: Now I dont expect to get an answer from Dr. Craig himself since I understand he's very busy and either way Im not even sure he participates in this open forum.

Why don't you submit this question (with a link to the paper) to Dr. Craig via the Q&A section of his website? He may find this paper contains interesting objections to the KCA and therefore may find it worthwhile to address in his Q&A.

Go to the latest Q&A and at the bottom there is a link to "Submit your question to Dr. Craig"

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A.J perez

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Serious objection to Kalam argument
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2012, 08:54:37 pm »
Mazzgolf, I recently submitted an unrelated question to Dr. Craig and he said he would respond in the future. It would be inappropriate for me to send another question I think. But if you think Craig should address this objection perhaps you should submit it to him.

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Lion IRC

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Serious objection to Kalam argument
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2012, 09:15:25 pm »
kuartus4 wrote: After having read the paper again, I believe that the only way out for Craig if he wants to maintain that the paradoxes he presents are truly absurd and agrue from them that the infinite is impossible is for him to deny mathematical legitimacy to the infinite and subscribe to mathematical finitism.

The implications of a paradoxical, pointless, past-eternal, perpetual motion universe/megaverse/multiverse
are not metaphysically impossible.

...they are just preposterously absurd.


And that's OK.


Sentient beings are allowed to speculate on the absurdity or otherwise of such notions.

It's just weird to see atheists claiming that their extravagant "woo" is a more plausible explanation than a singularity caused by the intent of another sentient Being.

Meaning versus meaninglessness. That is the question.

If we werent sentient beings with volition of our own, it probably wouldnt matter to us.

But we do seek meaning, patterns, purpose....
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John M

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Serious objection to Kalam argument
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2012, 09:13:47 pm »
kuartus4 - I submitted this to the Q&A on the RF.org website and though the answer wasn't published on the website, I got a nice reply from one of the folks at RF.org. Here is the reply - I think you will find it interesting as did I:


Dr. Craig is familiar with Dever’s argument and thinks it is a very powerful and even-handed critique, one of the best he’s seen. Dr. Craig’s claim is that an actual infinite is metaphysically impossible.  So if mathematical objects really existed, his argument would, indeed, apply to them as Dever says. But do mathematical objects really exist?  Only if Platonism is true. As Dr. Craig wrote in The Kalam Cosmological Argument, “For the nominalist, the conceptualist, and the formalist, the mathematical validity of the Cantorian system implies no commitment to the existence of the actual infinite in the real world. . . . Only for the Platonist-realist, who accepts the independent status of mathematical entities in the real world, do Cantor’s theories have ontological implications for the real world. This means that our argument against the real existence of the actual infinite would contradict Cantor’s work only if the Platonist-realist position . . . were proven to be . . . correct. . . , for our argument would be compatible with any of the other three.” (p. 89)
 
If there were mathematical objects, there could be only a finite number of them, as Intuitionists believe. But Dr. Craig sees no reason to think there are such objects; hence there really are not two worlds, as Dever infers.
 
One addendum: In Philosophical Foundations, Dr. Craig did use the language of the impossibility of an actually infinite number of physical things; but that was because his co-author is a Platonist and so he had to accommodate him! Obviously, if an actually infinite number of things, whether concrete or abstract, cannot exist, then an actually infinite number of physical things cannot exist, which is enough to prove the finitude of the past.

I, myself, am also not a Platonist like Dr. Craig (I still don't know what it means to say the number 9,12354x10^342 really, actually exists :-) so this argument doesn't affect me wrt the KCA.

Anyway, I hope this helps.

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Lion IRC

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Serious objection to Kalam argument
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2012, 06:22:19 pm »
"...an actual infinite is metaphysically impossible..."

Something is wrong here.

Maybe it's the indefinite article..."an actual"

Maybe its the use of the word "actual" and "metaphysically" in the same sentence.

Maybe it's the implication that God cant be metaphysically infinite -
a day is like a thousand years is like a day is like a.....and so forth.

A past-eternal universe absurd? Yes. Impossible? No.

For God, all things are possible.
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Lion IRC

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Serious objection to Kalam argument
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2012, 06:51:46 pm »
It's like the notion of an eternity in heaven becoming boring eventually. (Sysiphus)

One might mistakenly assume that the eternal Kingdom of God would get boring eventually but, metaphysically speaking, "heaven" could conceivably keep on getting more and more interesting to us as ''time'' goes on.

a) God's creativity is unlimited.

b) Our perception of His eternal Kingdom could theoretically keep on developing incrementally as we came to appreciate it all the more, the longer we spent there. IOW. A feedback loop. The longer you stay, the more you have to look "back" on which enriches the whole perception - a bit like a happy marriage.  


A similar line of reasoning is used (by CS Lewis?) in relation to the residents of "hell" becoming increasingly
hateful of God the longer they remain there...thereby from the inside, locking themselves more and more securely
behind the gates of hell.
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GGDFan777

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Re: Serious objection to Kalam argument
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2013, 05:36:14 am »
A couple of comments.

1. Dever's critique does nothing to refute the scientific evidence for the beginning of the universe.

2. Having studied more on this topic, I think I actually have found a flaw in Dever's critique my self that I would like to share. In the last part of his article he writes:

"Nevertheless, mathematics does tell us that in some sense actual infinities can be created through successive addition. 
...
Consider the following example: assume that God by fiat creates an actually infinite collection of objects. He does so en masse to avoid worries about whether even God can create actual infinities by successive addition; Craig's earlier arguments against the mere existence of an actually infinite collection of physical objects being defeated there is no objection to such en masse creation. The objects created are, in particular, a sequence of flags placed in a straight row between two lines (a 'starting line' and a 'finish line') one meter apart. The first flag is halfway between the two lines, the second is halfway between the first flag and the finish line; the third is halfway between the second and the finish line, and so on.

Now assume that a runner runs from the starting line to the finish line. For any number n, call the action of the runner passing the nth flag An.
                                                         
The runner will thus perform an actually infinite number of actions. Moreover, he will perform them successively, one after the other. Thus his successive performance of individual actions leads eventually to his performance of an infinite number of actions -- an actual infinity has been created by successive addition"

But here I think there is a problem, for if his scenario were to be actualized it would be the case that there is no last 'flag'. But suppose a real person is at the end of the row and looking back at the flags, what will he see? He won't be able to see the last flag cause there is isn't any last flag, yet he has to see something right? It seems to me this is a similar paradox as put forward by J.A. Benardete that Dr. Craig also has used namely:

" ' Here is a book lying on the table. Open it. Look at the first page. Measure its thickness. It is very thick indeed for a single sheet of paper - 1/2 inch thick. Now turn to the second page of the book. How thick is this second sheet of paper? 1/4 inch thick. And the third page of the book, how thick is this third sheet of paper? 1/8 inch thick, &c. ad infinitum. We are to posit not only that each page of the book is followed by an immediate successor the thickness of which is one-half that of the immediately preceding page but also (and this is not unimportant) that each page is separated from page 1 by a fi nite number of pages. These two conditions are logically compatible: there is no certifiable contradiction in their joint assertion. But they mutually entail that there is no last page in the book. Close the book. Turn it over so that the front cover of the book is now lying face down upon the table. Now - slowly - lift the back cover of the book with the aim of exposing to view the stack of pages lying beneath it. There is nothing to see. For there
is no last page in the book to meet our gaze. (Benardete 1964, pp. 236-7).'

To our mind this conclusion itself is evidently metaphysically absurd. Although Oppy, following Hazen (1993), offers expansions of the story so that someone opening the book will have some sort of visual experience, rather than as it were, a blank (Oppy 2006a, pp. 83-5), that does not negate the conclusion that there is nothing there to see since there is no last page. Benardete imagines what would happen if we tried to touch the last page of the book. We cannot do it. Either there will be an impenetrable barrier at ω + 1, which seems like science fi ction, or
else our fi ngers will penetrate through an infi nity of pages without fi rst penetrating a page, which recalls Zeno's paradoxes in spades, since the pages are actual entities. .... If such a book cannot exist, therefore, neither can an actual infinite. "

I don't think Dever adequately addressed this problem yet, it seems to me that these scenario's can still not be actualized in the real world regardless of whether it can be worked out mathematically.

3. Have a look at this article by a philosopher named Casper Storm Hansen (of the University of Aberdeen) named 'New Zeno and Actual Infinity' (see the attachement) where he argues against the possibility of the actual infinity.

Abstract:
In 1964 José Benardete invented the “New Zeno Paradox” about an infinity of gods trying to prevent a traveller from reaching his destination. In this paper it is argued, contra Priest and Yablo, that the paradox must be re-solved by rejecting the possibility of actual infinity. Further, it is shown that this paradox has the same logical form as Yablo’s Paradox. It is suggested that constructivism can serve as the basis of a common solution to New Zeno and the paradoxes of truth, and a constructivist interpretation of Kripke’s theory of truth is given.

see: http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperDownload.aspx?paperID=8727

I don't see how Dever's critique could apply to this argument against the possibility of an actual infinity.

- GGDFan777

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Trinity

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Re: Serious objection to Kalam argument
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2013, 02:54:32 pm »
Quote
For God, all things are possible.
Can God create a married bachelor?
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. - Psalm 19:1

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ontologicalme

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Re: Serious objection to Kalam argument
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2013, 04:37:28 pm »
I don´t know if this is some kind of principle I have not heard before, but this principle do not seem to be true:

"Given any mathematical claim, it is metaphysically possible that
there be some world, or some portion of a world, which serves as a
model for that claim."

It seems to me, It depends on the mathematical claim, as his previous examples show.

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wholesoul

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Re: Serious objection to Kalam argument
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2013, 05:24:52 pm »
This is a complex argument because it involves Philosophy of Mathematics, Reism (i.e., reification), Zeno's Paradoxes, and Abstract Objects rolled up into one.

Philosophy of Mathematics

Does mathematics simply REPRESENT reality or is mathematics more than our mental depiction of things or phenomena in reality - a particular an actual thing or phenomenon itself? In other words, is some phenomenon that is exquisitely described in mathematics with its attendant high correspondence to an observable physical phenomenon really two sides of the same coin? Does mathematics exists in the concrete world in and of itself?

"At first blush, mathematics appears to study abstract entities. This makes one wonder what the nature of mathematical entities consists in and how we can have knowledge of mathematical entities. If these problems are regarded as intractable, then one might try to see if mathematical objects can somehow belong to the concrete world after all." (Philosophy of Mathematics - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP))
Dever seems to be doing just that, taking a mathematical object (i.e., infinity) and seeing if they somehow "...belong to the concrete world..." (Philosophy of Mathematics - SEP) So how did Dever do this concretization? His conclusion tells us:

"But when we consider his arguments with an eye to understanding why there should be this mismatch between the mathematical possibility and the physical impossibility of the actually infinite, we discover at every stage that the bond between math and reality is too tightly woven to allow separation." (Dever, n.d.) Dever further elaborates his elimination of distinctiveness in footnote 8, which is on the same page as his conclusion. It states, "That there can be a distinction between what can be accomplished by a particular act in a task and what can be accomplished the whole task is a familiar thought from other areas. Thus, in the area of vagueness, the addition of no particular grain of sand transforms a non-heap into a heap, even though the process of adding all the grains does effect that transformation. Or, in the area of emergent properties, the firing of no particular neuron transforms the non-mental into the mental, even though the process of all the firings does effect that transformation." (Dever, n.d.)

In other words, Dever simply says there is no line or a geometrically pure one-dimension line between mathematical reality and physical reality. He also says, that one thing or act is sufficient to change states or conditions to their grander version (i.e., a little thing or action can switch states to categorical opposites). If such is the case, then anything found in the mathematical reality can be found in physical reality. So, I should be able to sense [abstract] numbers in the world, let alone infinity. Not two things, but the number two itself because two can cross over now from the abstract realm of mathemics to the real world. Any one seen two or any other number running around lately (see Abstract Objects section below)? 

Reism

"Reism is the doctrine that only things exist." (SEP).  If there is such a thing as an actual or physical infinity, then it must be a thing. As a thing we must be able to locate it in space and time. More practically, what is this thing - actual or physical infinity - composed of or filled with? Additionally, where would this infinite thing fit into our observable finite space/time universe? This is a contradiction, therefore an infinite thing cannot exist in a finite universe on this basis.

Zeno's Paradoxes

In many ways Dever's argument looks suspiciously similar to Zeno's Paradoxes at least on the possibility of infinity coming from the finite. I am not saying Dever is plagiarizing Zeno, but I am saying it is the same kind of argument for our better understanding and analysis.

"2.1 The Argument from Denseness

If there are many, they must be as many as they are and neither more nor less than that. But if they are as many as they are, they would be limited. If there are many, things that are are unlimited. For there are always others between the things that are, and again others between those, and so the things that are are unlimited. (Simplicius(a) On Aristotle's Physics, 140.29)" (Zeno's Paradoxes - SEP)

Here is the more common explanation of the above argument:

"Assume then that there are many things; he argues that they are both ‘limited’ and ‘unlimited’, a contradiction. First, he says that any collection must contain some definite number of things, neither more nor fewer. But if you have a definite number of things, he concludes, you must have a finite—‘limited’—number of them; he implicitly assumes that to have infinitely many things is to have an ‘indefinite’ number of them. But second, imagine any collection of ‘many’ things arranged in space—imagine them lined up in one dimension for definiteness. Between any two of them, he claims, is a third; and in between these three elements another two; and another four between these five; and so on without end. Therefore the limited collection is also ‘unlimited’, which is a contradiction, and hence our original assumption must be false: there are not many things after all." (Zeno's Paradoxes - SEP)

This is similar to an Infinite Regress argument or what I would call an Infinite Progress (i.e.,  division or zooming in) argument. Essentially, according to Zeno, this is how you can get infinity from a finite. I would refer the reader to Zeno's Paradox - SEP for further explanation and other similar paradoxes of Zeno. However, this creation of the infinity from finite space does not make that space infinite and the infinity creation is still happening wholly in the mathematical realm.

Abstract Objects

"The abstract/concrete distinction has a curious status in contemporary philosophy. It is widely agreed that the distinction is of fundamental importance. And yet there is no standard account of how it should be drawn (emphasis mine). There is a great deal of agreement about how to classify certain paradigm cases. Thus it is universally acknowledged that numbers and the other objects of pure mathematics are abstract (if they exist), whereas rocks and trees and human beings are concrete. Some clear cases of abstracta are classes, propositions, concepts, the letter ‘A’, and Dante's Inferno. Some clear cases of concreta are stars, protons, electromagnetic fields, the chalk tokens of the letter ‘A’ written on a certain blackboard, and James Joyce's copy of Dante's Inferno." (Abstract Objects - SEP) Dever draws no distinction between Abstract and Concrete objects by saying the one-dimensional line that separates the two is so thinless (i.e., zero width) or seamless (i.e., Dever states "...tightly woven...")that to make the distinction between the abstract and concrete is really arbitrary or some kind of personal choice. So, if I liken, by the Transitive Law, Abstract with Products of Mind with Imaginary Creations, I should be able to bring into physical existence my hearts desires since there is no real or arbitrary distinction between my imagined pile of gold and a concrete pile of gold. Really?

Just my two cents and I am expecting change back.

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pat1911

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Re: Serious objection to Kalam argument
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2014, 01:22:07 pm »
My problem with the Kalam Argument is it relies on the assumption that the universe exists and the space-time contingency remain in tact with the universe having a finite beginning. Too many assumptions! It also has a contingency, I.E. these things must happen in temporal succession.
It's not that these assumptions may not be true, they may very well be true but it relies we accept to many brute facts.
I much prefer the argument of contingency, which relies on no assumptions. Something exists. Yes. That which can be determined to exist by pure reason does not exist without contingency. How did it get there? Why does it exist are reasonable questions to ask about something that exists. In necessarily begets an non-contingent or necessary existence or being. In the contingency argument there are no gaps, each premise is verifiable without assumption and the conclusion must be necessarily drawn to the exception of all other possibilities.

It's not that you cannot run an atheist around in circles with it, it's just not the best of the Cosmological Arguments.