Greater Houston Skeptic Society Message Board › First cause

First cause

Steve
Steve_B
Houston, TX
Post #: 5
In a recent discussion, it was suggested that there must be a first cause to whatever series of events led to the Big Bang. I disagree.

There is no reason to believe the Big Bang had a cause. In the macro world with which we are most familiar it seems obvious that every event has a cause. Moreover, cause always precedes effect. Recent research indicates, however, that on the quantum level "cause" and "effect" may be meaningless. If that is so in the universe as it exists today, how can we presume anything about cause and effect in the singularity that preceded the Big Bang?

Even if one concedes that the Big Bang had a cause, one can not conclude that there was a first cause, i.e., a first event or entity that initiated a series of causes that culminated in the Big Bang. Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, a infinite regression of causes is not a logical impossibility. "Turtles all the way down" is unsatisfying and, given any alternative, will not survive Occam's razor, but it is not logically impossible.

Consider, for example consider a set of regular pentagons, each containing an inscribed pentagon and each contained in a circumscribed pentagon. (See http://jwilson.coe.ug...­ (replace dot with a .) for a picture similar to what I'm describing. Her pentagons are not regular.) The entire set of regular pentagons can be derived from any pentagon in the set. That is, any pentagon in the set can be the cause of all the other pentagons.
Tom P.
pooneil
Houston, TX
Post #: 58
I essentially agree with you on this. Part of the problem with Peelers presentation is the equivocation fallacy of using multiple meanings of ill defined words. And using the equivocation to beg the question. He is correct, AFAIK, in stating that in our universe, a cause must have an effect. As you say Steve, that leaves out quantum effects. He also implies without proof that something existed prior to the birth of the universe in which cause and effect have the same meaning. So in using the concept of cause and effect loosely, he begs the question of the existence of a uniformity of prior to the big bang with current observed conditions.

Peeler's deflection of objections by appealing to a logical form and saying he wasn't trying to "prove" the existence of any god were unsatisfying. If he wasn't trying to prove or at least demonstrate the existence of a god of some kind, I am unsure what the evening was about. If he was attempting to demonstrate the existence of a god, then the god must have the ability to interact the material world and there is where it should be looked for. Instead of seeking god in language and logic.
Thomas P.
user 81178032
Houston, TX
Post #: 1
A couple of points. Let's not equivocate about the word "prove." Obviously I was making a case for the existence of a creator God. I wish you would provide some more detail about the multiple meanings of ill-defined words. In other words, what words? Otherwise, I'm guessing. I did not leave out quantum effects as quantum effects are not nothing. If you start with "quantum effects" then you still have to account for the existence of those effects. Not to mention the fine tuning of the laws and the initial conditions that allowed for a universe that can sustain advanced forms of life. While it is true that science, which is basically an inductive enterprise, is never "settled," there are certain explanations for things and certain observations that are essentially not still up for grabs. The theory of general relativity, for one. That the universe is expanding for another. That there is a uniform cosmic background radiation for another. The laws of thermodynamics for another. The logical conclusion of these thing is "big bang" cosmology which says that the universe began. So I don't think I'm on shaky ground when I assert that the universe began to exist. There may some vanishingly small probability that nothing could create something but that flies in the face of causality. Let's face it, there are four alternatives here. The universe always existed in which case we do not have to account for its beginning since it wouldn't have one. The universe was self-caused which is logically incoherent as it would need to exist to cause its existence. The universe was caused by nothing which seems to me to be as about as irrational as it's possible to be. Or the universe was caused by something. The most rational alternative, the one that is logical and is consistent with the scientific evidence is that it was caused by something or someone. I'll stop there.
Steve
Steve_B
Houston, TX
Post #: 6
This is the First Cause thread. I'll start a new one on undefined terms.
Tom P.
pooneil
Houston, TX
Post #: 60
This is the First Cause thread. I'll start a new one on undefined terms.

Quite right.

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