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Craig vs Krauss

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Ruffen

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Nothing
« on: July 29, 2013, 07:15:02 am »
In the Craig vs Krauss debates that have been, there's been a lot of trying to "define nothing".

Krauss points out that even in empty space there are particles popping in and out of existence, as well as dark energy which is a gravitationally repulsive force. Craig claims that this is not nothing.

But those particles and forces are properties of space itself. In other words, the phrase "empty space" is self-contradictory, as space will always not be empty. And space and time are what the Universe itself is made of. You cannot find any place in the Universe where space does not exist. Therefore you cannot find a truly empty dead place in the Universe with no activity at all.

In other words, true nothingness has never been observed and will never be observed by any human being, as we and our physical instruments cannot move to a place where space (and therefore notion of "place") does not exist. Which way do you go to end up nowhere?

How then, can Craig claim that "nothing comes from nothing" or that "everything that begins to exist has a cause", when ex nihilo creation from a true nothing has never been observed, cause or no cause?

The creation of the Universe (and therefore space and time) means that "before" the Big Bang, time and space did not exist. If some pre-existing conditions did exist, then causality may be necessary, but then again that's not nothing. However if a true nothingness existed (a pure nothingness with a complete functioning omnipotent God? Is that nothing?) from which the Universe came into being, our everyday experience of causality or any other physical laws may not apply.

Craig himself is eager to point out that Krauss' description of space means that true nothingness does not exist anywhere within the Universe, so how can he assume that causality still applies to a "true" nothingness "before" the Big Bang or "outside" the Universe, when time does not exist and where space does not exist and notions like "before" or "outside" or "nothing" or "something" become meaningless?
« Last Edit: July 29, 2013, 07:16:57 am by Ruffen »

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ginobli2311

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Re: Nothing
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2013, 08:38:09 am »
It's a great question and one we just can't answer.  I think both sides of the issue essentially agree that there is something out there that is eternal or outside time and space.  Anyone claiming to know what that is or making statements like "nothing comes from nothing"...or that even absolute nothing is possible...is claiming to know things said person simply can't know.

If someone argues that God is without cause...then there is no reason why something else out there can't also be without cause.  And the notion that it has to be a mind that is outside time and space just cracks me up.  On what basis is someone making such claim? 

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Zeta_Metroid

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Re: Nothing
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2013, 07:15:43 pm »
There are two sources of knowledge: observation, and logic. We don't need to observe nothingness to know that nothing can come from it, we can tell that from logic. Just like we don't need to take two piles of a trillion objects and observe them being put together to know that a trillion plus a trillion is two trillion.

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ginobli2311

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Re: Nothing
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2013, 06:41:08 am »
There are two sources of knowledge: observation, and logic. We don't need to observe nothingness to know that nothing can come from it, we can tell that from logic. Just like we don't need to take two piles of a trillion objects and observe them being put together to know that a trillion plus a trillion is two trillion.

I agree that logic tells us that nothing can come from the absolute nothing that Craig needs for his proof of God.  However, logic does not dictate reality...reality operates all on it's own.  Quantum mechanics is hardly logical, yet that is the way the universe works.

We simply don't know if it is even possible in reality to have the "absolute nothing" in the first place.  And, in terms of evidence, there is no such evidence that it exists.

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peanutaxis

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Re: Nothing
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2013, 06:11:50 am »
It's funny, just today I invented/came across exactly the same reasoning that Ruffen did.

The first premise of the KCA "Everything that begins to exist has a cause" makes perfect empirical, observational, and hence intuitive sense. We just don't see things popping into existence from nothing. This is where the idea originated; from observation.

Unfortunately, science has since told us otherwise. Quantum Mechanics involves particles doing exactly this - popping into existence - EVERYWHERE in the universe, all the time. Even in empty space.

The response from Craig is to say "Well, empty space isn't nothing. Time and space are still there"
So the question arises, what on earth would Craig accept as "nothing"? Where in the universe can we observe this "nothing" - where can we get away from everything, even space-time? Answer: we can't.

So Craig's definition of "nothing" is relegated to, quite literally, outside the universe. What does that mean? It means that the first premise - in stark contrast to how intuitively, empirically obvious it first sounded - is now merely a metaphysical assertion. Completely and utterly unverifiable, unfalsifiable, unobservable, unempirical. So his premise is really "Something can't come from "nothing", where "nothing" only exists outside the universe".

To Naturalism-ists like me, and in my opinion,  this yields this premise completely pointless because it cant be tested/falsified. It's like me claiming that there are invisible, undetectable, unobservable three-legged bananas running the universe, making it look like it runs on the laws of physics. Pointless! Unless, of course, I happen to be a three-legged banana worshiper, the equivalent of which William Lane Craig most certainly is.

I do have an inkling that because Craig etc. do not adhere to empiricism or (metaphysical) naturalism they will claim that the first premise "Everything that begins to exist has a cause" can be known through Universals or as a Metaphysical Truths or some such nonsense.
Which immediately makes you wonder: Since the first premise really always was just "Something can't come from nothing, where 'nothing' only exists outside the universe", why try to dress it in sheep's clothing as the very empirical and obvious-sounding statement "Everything that begins to exist has a cause"?
Answer: If you can find empirical facts that seem to back up your belief, jump on them. But when empirical facts disagree with you, deny them and retreat back into metaphysics. This all seems wantonly disingenuous, but is actually probably just the delusionary confirmation bias, though I doubt it's been applied to philosophy before.

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Ruffen

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Re: Nothing
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2013, 02:39:19 pm »
There are two sources of knowledge: observation, and logic. We don't need to observe nothingness to know that nothing can come from it, we can tell that from logic. Just like we don't need to take two piles of a trillion objects and observe them being put together to know that a trillion plus a trillion is two trillion.

By the same logic, nobody actually tested Aristotle's "logical common sense" idea that heavy objects accelerate faster due to Earth's gravity than light objects.

By the same logic, one should not have to observe light rays to know that if a spaceship moves at 100 million meters per second and emits a ray of light that exits the spaceship with 300 million meters per second, then that ray of light should then have 400 million meters per second.

But that is not the case, as shown by the Michelson-Morley experiment as well as Maxwell's equations which lead Albert Einstein to develop the Theory of Relativity.

Nature is strange. We are used to objects between a millimeter and a kilometer in size and beyond that our "common sense" is useless.

For a Universe (which contains space and time) to come into existence, one cannot induce assumptions based on lions not appearing out of thin air.

So the fact that we haven't observed "true nothingness" is indeed relevant, because whatever may have caused the Universe's existence is not comparable to eskimo villages, and if we ever find out how that worked, it will not conform to our common sense.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2013, 02:41:10 pm by Ruffen »

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peanutaxis

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Re: Nothing
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2013, 11:50:41 pm »
^ What he said.


There are two sources of knowledge: observation, and logic. We don't need to observe nothingness to know...

Nope. This is so misguided. All of our logic comes from implicit knowledge of the macroscopic world in which we evolved. And it works so well for so many things that philosophers have elevated it to a 'metaphysical' level. Unfortunately this has a doubly bad effect. Firstly, people/philosophers don't even realize or accept that our logical intuitions come from only the macroscopic world, and secondly the elevation of this logic to a metaphysical level shields it from empirical enquiry.



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Re: Nothing
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2013, 08:42:41 am »
Exactly, there is absolutely no standings for any of Craig's assertions. The scientific method wins again.

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Stephen

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Re: Nothing
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2013, 09:31:35 am »
Nope. This is so misguided. All of our logic comes from implicit knowledge of the macroscopic world in which we evolved. And it works so well for so many things that philosophers have elevated it to a 'metaphysical' level. Unfortunately this has a doubly bad effect. Firstly, people/philosophers don't even realize or accept that our logical intuitions come from only the macroscopic world, and secondly the elevation of this logic to a metaphysical level shields it from empirical enquiry.

Which this basically concludes to nothing is actually known per se, we are all just dancing to the music of our DNA evolution imparts upon us.  We can't possibly know what's true, so these statements essentially cannot ever be rationally justified.

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peanutaxis

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Re: Nothing
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2013, 06:35:09 pm »
Which this basically concludes to nothing is actually known per se, we are all just dancing to the music of our DNA evolution imparts upon us.  We can't possibly know what's true, so these statements essentially cannot ever be rationally justified.

You seem to be saying that we can't trust our senses because they evolved. Let's say that we are all just dancing to our DNA. How does it follow that we therefore can't know/discover what is true?

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TableForOne

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Re: Nothing
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2013, 06:40:57 am »
Irrespective of how you feel about these thinkers in general, Krauss is plainly wrong and WLC is plainly right on this issue.

Craig has the audacity to define "nothing" as no thing: no space, no time, no particles, no quantum vacuums, etc. That we haven't observed nothingness is no argument against our ability to use the concept in formal reasoning -- no one has ever observed a perfect circle, for instance, but it's still a valuable abstraction in mathematics. The human mind is capable of much more than empirical observation, and one of those capacities is the ability to think apophatically.

Nothing is the negation of any-thing. In trying to answer the question "How can the universe come from nothing?", Krauss replaces this question with "How can the universe come from quantum fields?" and brushes his hands together as though he's accomplished some conceptual marvel. It's no surprise that many of those Krauss calls "idiot philosophers" called him out on his sleight of hand. Anyone who hasn't yet read David Albert's brutal critique of A Universe from Nothing really should give this link a read:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/books/review/a-universe-from-nothing-by-lawrence-m-krauss.html?_r=0

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Stephen

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Re: Nothing
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2013, 07:05:13 am »
Which this basically concludes to nothing is actually known per se, we are all just dancing to the music of our DNA evolution imparts upon us.  We can't possibly know what's true, so these statements essentially cannot ever be rationally justified.

You seem to be saying that we can't trust our senses because they evolved. Let's say that we are all just dancing to our DNA. How does it follow that we therefore can't know/discover what is true?

One could discover truth on this view.  Nevertheless there is no real way to rationally affirm what one believes is the truth, so any real correlation between a claim and the actual truth of matters would be purely coincidental.

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peanutaxis

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Re: Nothing
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2013, 08:15:35 am »
Irrespective of how you feel about these thinkers in general, Krauss is plainly wrong and WLC is plainly right on this issue.

Hahaha. I admire your religious fervour.

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Craig has the audacity to define "nothing" as no thing: no space, no time, no particles, no quantum vacuums, etc. That we haven't observed nothingness is no argument against our ability to use the concept in formal reasoning -- no one has ever observed a perfect circle, for instance, but it's still a valuable abstraction in mathematics. The human mind is capable of much more than empirical observation, and one of those capacities is the ability to think apophatically.

Well this completely depends upon one's worldview. If you think that numbers and abstract concepts are platonic - perhaps they are sitting at the left hand of god - then, sure, just imagine all kinds of crap and claim that just because no one has seen it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.  :P

Alternatively, perhaps our minds use generalized/integrated abstractions to link phenomena together, and some people confuse reality with those abstractions.

Quote
Nothing is the negation of any-thing. In trying to answer the question "How can the universe come from nothing?", Krauss replaces this question with "How can the universe come from quantum fields?" and brushes his hands together as though he's accomplished some conceptual marvel. It's no surprise that many of those Krauss calls "idiot philosophers" called him out on his sleight of hand. Anyone who hasn't yet read David Albert's brutal critique of A Universe from Nothing really should give this link a read:

Under the Naturalist view, our minds are evolved to deal with middle-sized practical problems, and so our intuitions with respect to microscopic and megascopic problems can be suspect (we even know this is true from what we know of quantum mechanics and cosmology). The arbiter here is observation, and observation should inform our views, and so "nothing" should be empirically based, and we never observe the kind of nothing that Craig imagines.

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TableForOne

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Re: Nothing
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2013, 03:49:34 pm »
Well this completely depends upon one's worldview. If you think that numbers and abstract concepts are platonic - perhaps they are sitting at the left hand of god - then, sure, just imagine all kinds of crap and claim that just because no one has seen it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.  :P

There's a difference between the ontological reality of abstract concepts and their practical application in formal reasoning. You don't have to be a Platonist to understand why "I've never observed 'nothing,' therefore I cannot talk about it" is a poor train of thought. Again, think of the perfect circle.

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The arbiter here is observation, and observation should inform our views, and so "nothing" should be empirically based, and we never observe the kind of nothing that Craig imagines.

This is simply a package of assertions. Why is empirical observation the "arbiter" for metaphysical questions? Why should we define "nothing" as something?

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Ruffen

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Re: Nothing
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2013, 04:56:25 pm »
Irrespective of how you feel about these thinkers in general, Krauss is plainly wrong and WLC is plainly right on this issue.

Craig has the audacity to define "nothing" as no thing: no space, no time, no particles, no quantum vacuums, etc.

Yeah, a complete nothingness just with a fully functioning omnipotent GOD in it....

How can "nothing" with laws of physics or quantum effects not be nothing, but a "nothing" with God in it be nothing?