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Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

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Mr sinn

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Why can't the universe be necessary?
« on: December 13, 2014, 05:57:18 am »
I'm really puzzled by Craig's argument for the argument from contingency. Any help on the following would be appreciated. Because at it stands I can't see any reason why the universe can't be necessary. Doesn't the first law of thermal dynamics already confirm this?

The following quotes are from craig -

"But, you might say, what about the matter out of which these things are made? Maybe the matter exists necessarily, and all these things are just different contingent configurations of matter"

Exactly my point.

"The problem with this suggestion is that, according to the standard model of subatomic physics, matter itself is composed of tiny particles called “quarks.” The universe is just the collection of all these quarks arranged in different ways"

Fair enough, atoms are contingent on fundamental particles.


" But now the question arises: couldn’t a different collection of quarks have existed instead of this one? Does each and every one of these quarks exist necessarily?"

I don't know, I don't see any reason why we should think these quarks can't exist necessarily?


"Notice what the atheist cannot say at this point. He cannot say that the quarks are just configurations of matter which could have been different, even though the matter of which the quarks are composed exists necessarily. He can’t say this because quarks aren’t composed of anything! They just are the basic units of matter. So if a quark doesn’t exist, the matter doesn’t exist"

Right...but why is that a problem for an atheist? Surely that's just affirming quarks are necessary not contingent - which is what the atheist is trying to say! I'm completely puzzled how this is an objection for the atheist. Surely it's the problem for the theist.


"Now it seems obvious that a different collection of quarks could have existed instead of the collection that does exist"

Is it?

" But if that were the case, then a different universe would have existed. To see the point, think about your desk. Could your desk have been made of ice? Notice that I’m not asking if you could have had an ice desk in the place of your wooden desk that had the same size and structure. Rather I’m asking if your very desk, the one made of wood, if that desk could have been made of ice. The answer is obviously, no. The ice desk would be a different desk, not the same desk.

Similarly, a universe made up of different quarks, even if identically arranged as in this universe, would be a different universe. It follows, then, that the universe does not exist by a necessity of its own nature"

Fine. But at this point surely all the atheist needs to do is appeal to the multiverse and state that every quark/fundamental particle in every possible world is necessary. We exist in a necessary multiverse. Furthermore I still go back to my early point of the first law of thermal dynamics, matter can neither be created or destroyed. And if every possibility exists with necessary fundamental particles then the argument is over. Surely?

(By the way I believe in God, I'm just anticipating the objections to the argument)



Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/argument-from-contingency#ixzz3LmFBqGjF
"If nothing is self-evident, nothing can be proved. Similarly if nothing is obligatory for its own sake, nothing is obligatory at all." CS Lewis

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JWVargas

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Re: Why can't the universe be necessary?
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2015, 05:43:22 pm »
I also failed to understand the author's point. How come would it follow that, given the possibility for the universe to be made of different elementary particles or different configurations of the known ones, it doesn't necessarily exist.

As well as Mr sinn I don't see that it is obvious the possibility of a different set of particles.

How about the energy? Couldn't it exist necessarily? 

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Re: Why can't the universe be necessary?
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2016, 09:11:07 am »
Argument from contingency is one of the worst one. It tries to abuse our imagination. We can easily imagine unieverse made out of different stuff than it's in fact made of.

I sometimes wonder, if String theory turns out to be true, are apologists going to say that now Strings = god? Or are they going to say that because we can imagine other universe, etc it still means Strings are contingent?

I think notions like contingent or necessary are useless if applied to actual world. The only necessary things seem to be definitions which are jsut made up ideas.
You see a grammar or spelling error in my post? Feel free to point it out, I'm still learning.

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lucious

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Re: Why can't the universe be necessary?
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2016, 07:48:07 pm »
Because the universe is not even an entity--or a substantive existence in its own right. It is the set of spatio-temporal events, or in the broadest extension--temporal reality.

The universe is an accidental unity of its contents, which are events.

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Atheist in Louisiana

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Re: Why can't the universe be necessary?
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2016, 11:14:27 pm »
Now that's interesting lucious.  If that's true, then there isn't anything about the universe which can be said to exist.  You're denying that the universe exists, which would deny that the universe began to exist, since it doesn't exist.  How can a non-entity with no substantive existence in its own right, be said to exist?  If it has no substantive existence and isn't an entity, then how can you also claim that it exists? 
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lucious

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Re: Why can't the universe be necessary?
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2016, 12:40:34 am »
Now that's interesting lucious.  If that's true, then there isn't anything about the universe which can be said to exist.  You're denying that the universe exists, which would deny that the universe began to exist, since it doesn't exist.  How can a non-entity with no substantive existence in its own right, be said to exist?  If it has no substantive existence and isn't an entity, then how can you also claim that it exists?

I'm not denying the universe exists, lol. I may, at this point, have to borrow from your book and play the "you don't understand me" card.

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Atheist in Louisiana

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Re: Why can't the universe be necessary?
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2016, 01:15:03 am »
Now that's interesting lucious.  If that's true, then there isn't anything about the universe which can be said to exist.  You're denying that the universe exists, which would deny that the universe began to exist, since it doesn't exist.  How can a non-entity with no substantive existence in its own right, be said to exist?  If it has no substantive existence and isn't an entity, then how can you also claim that it exists?

I'm not denying the universe exists, lol. I may, at this point, have to borrow from your book and play the "you don't understand me" card.

So the universe is not an entity and doesn't have a substantive existence in its own right, but exists?  Perhaps I do fail to understand you.  Can you explain what it means for something that isn't an entity and has no substantive existence, to exist?
Had the magazine not published these cartoons, they would not have been specifically targeted.
Consequences, AiL, consequences. - Jenna Black

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bruce culver

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Re: Why can't the universe be necessary?
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2017, 08:24:26 pm »
""Notice what the atheist cannot say at this point. He cannot say that the quarks are just configurations of matter which could have been different, even though the matter of which the quarks are composed exists necessarily. He can’t say this because quarks aren’t composed of anything! They just are the basic units of matter. So if a quark doesn’t exist, the matter doesn’t exist""

"Right...but why is that a problem for an atheist? Surely that's just affirming quarks are necessary not contingent - which is what the atheist is trying to say! I'm completely puzzled how this is an objection for the atheist. Surely it's the problem for the theist."

Nailed it. You caught Craig shuffling the pea between the shells. I can imagine WLC saying "The mouth is quicker than the brain" just before saying the above words. Unfortunately, or fortunately actually, when the words are rendered in print they are slowed down and we have time to think about them and see how little sense they actually make.

According to Spinoza there is nothing but determinism and necessity, contingency is just an illusion caused by our lack of knowledge and understanding of the causal chain of any event. Of course, he didn't know about quantum theory.

I'm not sure whether everything that exists exists necessarily, but I'm pretty darned sure WLC doesn't know whether or not the universe is contingent or not, either.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2017, 11:04:27 am by bruce culver »
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SheaB

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Re: Why can't the universe be necessary?
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2017, 01:45:36 pm »
I'm new here. Enjoying reading these discussions.

One of my big questions about WLC's approach is this: why are we even talking about the possibility of a "mind" (God) that lies beyond matter? This would require the theist to prove first that "mind" can exist without matter, and that seems like a tall order to me. Everything we know about "mind" suggests that it is firmly grounded in interactions among physical matter (whether a brain or, perhaps, a computer).

And without a mysteriously immaterial mind, the idea of God's "simplicity" falls apart (it would indeed have parts).

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igr

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Re: Why can't the universe be necessary?
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2017, 02:28:17 am »
Some of WLC's articles about the KCA might give you an idea of where he is coming from.  He asserts that an infinite past is impossible.  He then states that if all that exists is material, there must be an infinite past in the change continuum that necessarily exists with material.  But because an infinite past is (allegedly) impossible, there must be something other than material that is necessary, and that everything material must be contingent.  This "something other than material" necessarily does not and cannot have an infinite past - apparently (according to WLC) a Disembodied Mind satisfies this requirement.  And to "prove" this he contrives and contorts a shallow "argument".  But he is not convincing to anybody who is capable of systematically/logically assessing his argument.  So there is the challenge.

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bruce culver

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Re: Why can't the universe be necessary?
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2017, 09:58:47 am »
I've realized further flaws in the contingency argument. Sometimes it is argued that every proper part of the universe is contingent (at least we can easily imagine it not having existed) and the universe is the composition of its proper parts and therefore the universe also could have not existed and is therefore not necessary but contingent.

The problem is that this only considers the universe as a composition of complex proper parts, and I would agree that formally that is what it is. As such, I would agree that the universe is formally contingent. The universe as it exist at present probably does not exist so as a matter of necessity.

However, the universe is not substantially the composition of its complex proper parts, but rather it is substantially the composition of its simple proper parts, and those very well could exist necessarily, if indeed the universe's substantial existence is necessary, then it would follow that its simple proper parts also exist necessarily.

Dr. Craig seems to recognize that this is a possible argument and that is why he has sought to cut it off by saying that we can imagine a different collection of simple proper parts, which he identifies as quarks having existed instead of the one that does. But this doesn't make any sense because simple proper parts would be completely "fungible". That is, a mass of x number of quarks would be neither substantially not formally any different than another x number of quarks.

I suppose that then the argument would be why x number of quarks, we could easily imagine a universe composed of a different number of quarks.

That gets to this whole idea that because something is conceivable that means it is metaphysically possible and in this case because we could imagine the universe having y numbers of quarks instead of the x number that this universe is composed of, then it is not metaphysically necessary that the universe have x number of particles and so it must be contingent.

I think this is just wrong. The only reason we believe that there is anything that is metaphysically necessary  is because we believe in the impossibility of an infinite regress of causes. Now, somewhere in reasoning about the nature of the world modal reasoning came along and the idea of reasoning based on possible world semantics. And somehow from that has come the idea that if something is conceivable it is metaphysically possible. But, honestly, I see no sense in that idea. It seems to me that if we believe that there is some ultimate reality that exist necessarily, that then whatever properties that reality has are also metaphysically necessary, no matter whether we can imagine they could have been different or not. As such, it is metaphysically impossible that it could have been any different, no matter how conceivable it is to us that it might have been. Or, perhaps more succinctly: Possibility has nothing to do with it. It is what it is, and that's that.

To my mind, all that "metaphysically necessary" means is that whatever you are talking about is "ontic bedrock" or "ultimate reality" and it is epistemically necessary, given the impossibility of an infinite regress of causes and explanations, for it to have had any cause or for there to be any reason why it has the properties that it has.

If the universe is all that exists, then it is metaphysically necessary and also necessarily has whatever properties that is has by dint of its being "metaphysically necessary", "ontic bedrock" , "ultimate reality" or whatever other synonymous label you want to hang on it.

Now, WLC has argued that that is begging the question, because it assumes that the universe IS all that exists, and of course it would be begging the question if I were offering it as an argument in proof of the universe's existing necessarily. However, I am not. I am offering it as an undercutter to the argument that the universe is contingent, as such I am entirely entitled to assume the possibility that the universe exits necessarily. In fact, trying to cut of argument against the universe's contingency by denying the opponent the right to assume the possibility of universe's necessity is just a subtle form of a burden of proof fallacy.

Notice, I only said IF the universe is all that exists, then this would be the case. I'm not claiming to have proven that the argument for the universe being necessary is true, but it does show that the argument that the universe must be contingent is fallacious.

The error depends partly on mistaking the apparent formal contingency of the universe at present for the substantial contingency of the universe. It also plays on what I think is mistake in modal reasoning which identifies any state of affairs that we can conceive of as possibly having been different as necessarily being a contingent state of affairs. I'm not sure, but this might work for the most part, but I don't think it breaks down hard in reference to things we are considering for the role of "ultimate reality", "ontic bedrock", "metaphysically necessary being"  It seems to me that whatever it is that exists at the end of the chain of causes and explanations is just as entitled to whatever properties it has by dint of necessity as it is to its existence. Does it matter to the universe that we can imagine that it might have been a different universe? Certainly not, if it is indeed all that exists. It just is what it is, and there is nothing more that can be said about that.

And, no, scientists do not have to stop looking for explanations for the existence of the known universe, because the known universe very well may not be the whole story. It may be, but I'm not claiming that it certainly is.
"The world is my country and my religion is to do good."

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Lespaul_Lover

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Re: Why can't the universe be necessary?
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2017, 03:52:32 pm »
Mr sinn,

I think you have some really good questions about the argument which is great! It shows you’re seriously digging into WLC’s material. I would like to offer my two cents on the objections you have brought up to the argument from contingency.

First off, you say that the First Law of Thermodynamics confirms the necessity of the universe. Why is that? I am somewhat confused by this and would appreciate clarification because the first law states that energy in a physical system can be neither created nor destroyed, how does that show the necessity of the universe?

Secondly, I see a possible problem with another quote, “Surely that’s just affirming quarks are necessary not contingent.” I think here you may be begging the question in favour of atheism if I am interpreting your line of though correctly. Are you stating that quarks exist necessarily because nothing else can exist without them? If so, then I would say you are begging the question because of the assumption that underlies that thinking (quarks are all there is). Please let me know if I am making a straw man of your argument.

Thirdly, in regards to the different collection of quarks being obvious confusing you may come from a misunderstanding (or lack thereof) in regards to necessity. When you something is necessary, you assert that it is impossible for it not to exist (On Guard, pg. 55-56) and whatever it is you assert to be necessary must be the same in all possible worlds (by possible worlds I mean different situations). But now it should seem obvious that there is a possible world in which the universe’s collection of quarks could have been altered and been a different collection. If there is one possible instance where the building blocks could have been different, it follows that the building blocks of the universe is not necessary. Furthermore, if the atheist does assert that the quarks of the universe are necessary he must prove this as he is making a positive truth claim and must defend his position. It seems very unlikely that there is evidence to support the necessity of quarks.

Finally, in regards to your statement about the multiverse, I think that appealing to the multiverse does not solve the contingency issue. One can appeal to Alexander’s Vilenkin’s powerful statement regarding the multiverse, “With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.” (On Guard pg. 92 note 4). This is based off of the theorem from Borde, Guth and Vilenkin (all scientists) proposed called the BVG theorem. It states that any universe that has been expanding on average throughout history must have a space-time-boundary (a beginning) (pg. 92 of On Guard). Evidence of the expansion of the universe is noticed within discoveries such as the RedShift noticed by Edward Hubble. Essentially he noticed that galaxies which he observed over a period of time had a red color shift to them, most plausibly indicating that the light coming from these galaxies were being stretched because they were actually moving away from his point of reference (the earth) and were therefore expanding. From this one can see that the universe had a beginning, and as noted earlier, if something has a beginning, it cannot be necessary (necessary things exist by their very nature and are therefore eternal).There is more science involved, but I wont get into in this post as it has already become quite long (oops). Hope this is good food for thought!
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