Must the Beginning of the Universe have a Personal Cause? (Part 1)

by Luke Muehlhauser on October 2, 2010 in Guest Post,Kalam Argument

Guest blogger John D of Philosophical Disquisitions summarizes contemporary articles in philosophy of religion in plain talk so that you can be up to speed on the God debate as it ensues at the highest levels of thought.

cloud_break

Readers of Common Sense Atheism will no doubt be aware of William Lane Craig’s Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA). Indeed, Luke has been putting together a series that aims to map out every thrust and parry in the philosophical debate surrounding this argument.

This series has a more modest aim. It takes a detailed look at a paper by one of the chief thorns in the side of the KCA, the softly-spoken, previously-interviewed Wes Morriston. The paper in question is “Must the Beginning of the Universe have a Personal Cause?

Morriston’s Target

I’m sure everyone reading this has had the KCA recited to them thousands of times already but, in the interests of completeness, I feel obliged to provide a sketch of it.

(click for full size)

This is a slightly extended version of the KCA, divided into two parts. The first part (if successful) establishes that the universe has a cause of its existence; the second part (if successful) establishes that the cause must be God.

It is said — and I think this is correct based on my own limited reading — that most of the philosophical attention has been directed towards the second premise of the argument. Indeed, Craig himself has developed four distinct arguments supporting the second premise, which must be some indication of its contentious nature.

I can’t really say why the second premise has warranted so much attention. Perhaps, it is because the concept of the infinite is the most philosophically interesting concept invoked by the argument.

Whatever the reason, it has meant that (1) and (4) have been left relatively unexamined. This is unfortunate because these premises are equally crucial to the success of the KCA. Fortunately, Morriston’s article offers a detailed and systematic dissection of these two premises. We will follow his discussion step-by-step, beginning with the first premise.

Craig’s Defense of the First Premise

There is another post on CSA offering a lengthy analysis of how Craig has changed his defense of the first premise over the years. Morriston’s article was written some time before Craig’s latest defense but, as far as I can tell, nothing substantial has changed since then.

Morriston notes that Craig does not offer a formal argument in defense of the principle that everything that begins to exist must have a cause of its existence (as he does for the second premise). Instead, Craig appeals to its intuitive obviousness, its potential empirical verification, and the principle of ex nihilo nihil fit. He then proceeds to chastise those who would doubt it for their dishonesty and philosophical pigheadedness.

Morriston takes these claims one at a time, but before doing so details how Craig conceives of (i) God’s relationship to the universe and (ii) the notion of something beginning to exist. The reason Morriston does this is because he thinks that the strength of the first premise may derive largely from a naive understanding of these two issues.

God’s Relationship to Time

Craig has a particular conception of God’s relationship to the universe. To quote from the man himself:

In my opinion, God was timeless prior to creation, and he created time along with the world. From that point on God places himself within time so that He can interact with the world He has created.

This is illustrated, in a somewhat garish fashion, below.

(click for full size)

As Morriston is anxious to point out, there is something odd about Craig’s description of God’s relationship to time. Although Craig invokes an atemporal God, he seems to speak of God being one way and then being another, i.e. prior to creation God existed in one state and then after creation God existed in another state. How can this be right?

Craig has a well-rehearsed answer: the sense of priority being invoked in his description is causal not temporal. This, he argues, is perfectly intelligible because causes can sometimes be simultaneous with their effects.

Morriston has his doubts about this response: philosophical theories of causation often explicitly rely on the idea of temporal priority, and simultaneity is itself a temporal relation, not something applicable to a timeless domain. Nonetheless, if he’s going to pick a fight with Craig it’s not going to be on this issue. He will concede the intelligibility of atemporal causation.

His objections lie more in the problems that this understanding of God’s relationship to time makes for the plausibility of premise one of the KCA.

Begins to Exist?

But before we get to those objections, there is one further clarification to be made: what does it mean for something to begin to exist?

Christian and atheist philosophers, such as Richard Swinburne and Adolf Grunbaum, have objected to Craig’s argument on the grounds that something cannot begin to exist unless there was an earlier time at which it did not exist. If this is correct, it would seem to cast doubt on Craig’s idea that the universe “began” out of a state of timelessness.

Craig responds with a formal definition. He says:

“x begins to exist” = ‘x exists at t and there is no time immediately prior to t at which x exists.’

You may be scratching your head at that one. I know I was, but I think the reason for my abraded scalp was that the phrase ‘no time…’ is somewhat ambiguous. It could mean “time exists, but no unit of that time includes x’s existence” or it could mean “time itself does not exist.” For the definition to work in Craig’s favour, the latter meaning must apply.

And if you’re still confused, remember that “prior to” comes in causal and temporal flavours.

Anyway, Craig’s definition might allow him to wriggle free of Grunbaum and Swinburne’s objection, but we must ask whether it does so at the expense of undercutting the plausibility of premise one. We will answer that question in part two.

Previous post:

Next post:

{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

bossmanham October 2, 2010 at 6:40 am

As far as Grunbaum and Swinburn’s objection goes, if there was no time without the universe, then there was no time prior to its beginning when it existed. I don’t see the problem.

Craig also has very good examples of atemporal causation and how God could at one time be timeless and then begin time.

  (Quote)

Sabio Lantz October 2, 2010 at 7:08 am

Superb graphic, Luke ! Says a lot.

  (Quote)

Rob October 2, 2010 at 7:14 am

Can someone explain what a timeless cause is? What about a simultaneous cause?

As I understand causality, it is about one or more events relation in time. The concept of event presupposes time.

  (Quote)

Zak October 2, 2010 at 7:23 am

Rob,

I have no idea what a timeless cause is. God, I guess?

However, Craig’s example of a simultaneous cause is a ball bowling ball falling onto a mattress. The mattress gets smushed in at the same time that the ball hits the mattress. So the cause (the bowling ball) and effect (the mattress being smushed) are at the same time.

Here is Craig saying it for himself…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kug2yIABYao#t=8m50s

  (Quote)

Reginald Selkirk October 2, 2010 at 7:38 am

as it ensues at the highest levels of thought.

Huh huh. Huh huh huh huh.
The humility of apologetics disguised as philosophy is touching.

  (Quote)

Rob October 2, 2010 at 7:40 am

A bowling ball pressing down on a mattress is not a simultaneous cause and effect. Rather, with sensitive instruments you would observe a continuous oscillation of the bowling ball up and down, and the mattress dent up and down.

It appears simultaneous to our limited senses, but with science we learn that actually there are millions of actions and reactions occurring, one event after the other.

So that example is a spectacular failure. Care to try again?

  (Quote)

Zak October 2, 2010 at 8:01 am

Rob,

I am just relaying what Craig says… not defending the position. I think Tabash responds to the claim later in the debate.

  (Quote)

Patrick October 2, 2010 at 8:19 am

Yeah, that argument always struck me as particularly dumb. When I was like 13, I realized that if you had a metal pole a light year long, and you pushed on one end, the other end wouldn’t move for at least a year. You’d actually see a compression effect transferring down the pole, molecule by molecule. At the time that absolutely blew my barely teenage mind.

As for Craig’s definition of “x begins to exist,” this strikes me as particularly bizarre for someone who defends the premise that all things that begin to exist have a cause by means of a reference to human intuition. I don’t have any useful intuitions about things that begin to exist by means of existing at the premise moment time begins, and I don’t think anyone else does, either.

  (Quote)

Rob October 2, 2010 at 8:33 am

OK Zak. I have run into this notion of simultaneous cause and effect elsewhere from apologists. It seems so idiotic, and it took a while for me to understand why it is important for apologists. This is why. It is not enough, they say, that God caused the universe to exist. For then God could have set things going and then ceased to exist or ceased to be involved. No, the apologists need God around sustaining the universe’s moment by moment. The notion of simultaneous cause and effect is required for the apologist to give a reason why God is still involved.

It’s a great example of the apologists having a belief, and then pulling some principle out of their ass that justifies their belief. I think the principle of sufficient reason is in the same category.

  (Quote)

Bram van Dijk October 2, 2010 at 10:21 am

Patrick,

if you had a metal pole a light year long, and you pushed on one end, the other end wouldn’t move for at least a year. You’d actually see a compression effect transferring down the pole, molecule by molecule. At the time that absolutely blew my barely teenage mind.

And it blows my not-quite-teenage-anymore mind. These are the times that I think that I really should have studied physics instead of economics.

  (Quote)

Patrick October 2, 2010 at 10:24 am

““x begins to exist” = ‘x exists at t and there is no time immediately prior to t at which x exists.’”

1. All things which begin to exist have a cause.
2. For a thing to “begin to exist,” it must exist at time T, AND there must be no time prior to T at which that thing exists.
3. At the beginning of the universe, time started.
4. The universe existed at the beginning of the universe.
5. There was no time prior to the beginning of the universe.
6. Therefore the universe existed at time T (the beginning of the universe), and no time existed prior to T at which point the universe existed.
7. Therefore the universe began to exist.
8. Therefore the universe had a cause.

or…

1. All things which begin to exist have a cause.
2. For a thing to “begin to exist,” it must exist at time T, AND there must be no time prior to T at which that thing exists.
3. At the beginning of the universe, time started.
4. GOD existed at the beginning of the universe.
5. There was no time prior to the beginning of the universe.
6. Therefore God existed at time T (the beginning of the universe), and no time existed prior to T at which point God existed.
7. Therefore God began to exist.
8. Therefore God had a cause.

So… yeah.

  (Quote)

Rob October 2, 2010 at 10:39 am

Patrick,

You are doing it rong!

When they say God exists outside of time, the word “exist” means something completely different than what we mean when we talk of the universe existing.

God’s type of existence is something completely beyond anything you can understand.

  (Quote)

Nordon October 2, 2010 at 10:58 am

Wait, how exactly does he support that the cause must be personal?

  (Quote)

Garren October 2, 2010 at 11:27 am

Rob,

“Can someone explain what a timeless cause is? What about a simultaneous cause?”

Sure. I can give an easy example everyone understands:

The Son eternally proceeds from the Father.

  (Quote)

Garren October 2, 2010 at 11:40 am

Nordon,

Wait, how exactly does he support that the cause must be personal?

See the “conclusion” paragraph here. Essentially, Craig tries to bridge the gap between a static, eternal cause and temporal effects by invoking the free will of a personal agent. Possibly the most handwaving I’ve ever seen in a paragraph.

  (Quote)

Taranu October 2, 2010 at 12:01 pm

John D. forgot to write the words: “and then a miracle occurs” on the arrow from God to the moment time and the Universe began, just like in the picture I provided the link for :)

http://avionod.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/and-then-a-miracle-happens/

  (Quote)

bossmanham October 2, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Rob,

Can someone explain what a timeless cause is? What about a simultaneous cause?

Fire causes heat, right? But it’s a simultaneous causation. Imagine an eternally bruning fire. The fire causes the heat, but there was no time where the fire existed and the heat didn’t. Dr. Craig uses the example of a bowling ball that causes a depression on a bed in the same way.

The sun causes light. But there’s no time prior to the existence of the sun that the light it produces doesn’t exist.

There are plenty of examples.

  (Quote)

bossmanham October 2, 2010 at 1:29 pm

“But there’s no time prior to the existence of the sun that the light it produces doesn’t exist.”

Since this is a bit confusing in retrospect, let me rephrase. There’s no time when the sun exists that the light it emits doesn’t. As soon as it exists it is causing light. But there’s no temporal duration from the sun existing to the light being emitted, especially if it’s an eternal sun.

  (Quote)

Patrick October 2, 2010 at 1:38 pm

bossmanham- Fire doesn’t cause heat. Fire is a chemical reaction which includes the release of heat. The release of heat is a component of the chemical reaction of combustion. Fire causes heat the same way I cause my my own head. The same is true for fire, or the sun, “causing” light.

  (Quote)

Silas October 2, 2010 at 1:43 pm

bossmanham,

Does a ball cause it’s own roundness? It seems to me that you’re just talking about different properties of a thing.

  (Quote)

bossmanham October 2, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Patrick,

Fire doesn’t cause heat. Fire is a chemical reaction which includes the release of heat

It’s odd because that sounds synonymous to saying fire causes heat…

The release of heat is a component of the chemical reaction of combustion.

That happens simultaneously as fire exists.

Fire causes heat the same way I cause my my own head.

Um, you’re going to have to explain that one…

  (Quote)

bossmanham October 2, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Does a ball cause it’s own roundness? It seems to me that you’re just talking about different properties of a thing.

No, how would that be the same as heat being a byproduct of fire? It seems you guys are confusing analogies.

  (Quote)

Rob October 2, 2010 at 2:21 pm

bossmanham,

“Heat” is a measure of molecular motion. Fire causes molecules of water to move faster. But this is one event following another. Heat transfer requires time. It is not simultaneous.

Your example is worse than the bowling ball example. The concept of “heat” itself requires events following each other in time.

Take away the fire, the water is still hot. So, the cause is not simultaneous.

  (Quote)

Patrick October 2, 2010 at 2:51 pm

bossmanham-

Imagine if I told you that rain causes water to fall from the sky. You’d probably think that was awfully silly, because rain IS water falling from the sky.

Well, fire is a chemical reaction. The release of thermal energy is a component of that reaction. You can’t point to “fire” and “heat” and say “these are two different things, and the former causes the latter.”

Well, you could if you were talking about “heat” in the sense that “things near fires become hot,” but then that obviously occurs over time, so I’m assuming that its not what you meant.

  (Quote)

bossmanham October 2, 2010 at 2:52 pm

“Heat” is a measure of molecular motion. Fire causes molecules of water to move faster. But this is one event following another. Heat transfer requires time. It is not simultaneous.

The molecular motion and the existence of fire are simultaneous. The fire causes the molecules to move as soon as the fire comes into existence. If the fire is eternal, then it has always been causing molecular motion, ie heat. Nothing changes by using a different word.

  (Quote)

Bill Maher October 2, 2010 at 2:54 pm

I was watching Penn and Teller’s Bullshit (the creationist episode) in which they featured a county of my State (Georgia) and its citizens wanting creationism taught in schools. Guess who was in the background arguing for it??????

WILLIAM LANE CRAIG

  (Quote)

bossmanham October 2, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Patrick,

Imagine if I told you that rain causes water to fall from the sky

Rain is water falling from the sky. Something can’t cause itself.

Well, fire is a chemical reaction. The release of thermal energy is a component of that reaction. You can’t point to “fire” and “heat” and say “these are two different things, and the former causes the latter.”

So fire and heat are identical? Then how do we have heat without fire? You yourself just said that they are distinct things. Fire is a chemical reaction that causes nearby molecules to move extremely fast, which is heat. But it is a simultaneous situation, where the fire exists and it is causing the heat without need for any temporal duration.

Well, you could if you were talking about “heat” in the sense that “things near fires become hot,” but then that obviously occurs over time, so I’m assuming that its not what you meant.

Getting hotter isn’t really relevant here. The fire is the immediate cause of molecular motion. The transfer may take time, but I’m not talking about a transfer of heat. I am saying that as soon as fire exists, it causes heat.

  (Quote)

bossmanham October 2, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Rob, on your objection to the bowling ball example you say:

A bowling ball pressing down on a mattress is not a simultaneous cause and effect. Rather, with sensitive instruments you would observe a continuous oscillation of the bowling ball up and down, and the mattress dent up and down.

I’m not sure what you’re objection is here. What does the continuous oscillation have to do with the bowling ball causing the depression in the mattress? It still causes the depression, and it isn’t in a temporal sense.

  (Quote)

Walter October 2, 2010 at 3:34 pm

How could a personal being decide to create something (space, time, life) if he existed in a state without the passage of any time? Maybe I am just a little slow, but this makes no sense to me. Would there have ever existed a ‘time’ before he decided to create?

  (Quote)

lukeprog October 2, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Sabio,

That’s John’s graphic.

  (Quote)

lukeprog October 2, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Bill Maher,

Ahah!

  (Quote)

Patrick October 2, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Well, this is getting ridiculous.

For the record, I didn’t say that fire and heat were identical, I said heat was a component of the chemical reaction that is fire.

I think that given enough time, and enough education in chemistry such that you stop giving really bad examples, you might be able to come up with a definition of “cause” that both matches at least some vernacular usage and also allows you to say that something “causes” something else on a moment by moment basis, such that time isn’t relevant. However, I strongly suspect that the definition you will eventually reach will be so different from the definition initially discussed that it will no longer be applicable to the cases to which you wish to apply it.

Meanwhile, this conversation is going to be brutally painful as you struggle to use other people’s explanations of what “heat” and “fire” really are in order to patch together your initial ill thought example that you invented without really thinking or knowing about “fire” and “heat” in terms of their actual properties.

So I’m out.

  (Quote)

Rob October 2, 2010 at 3:47 pm

bossmanham,

The bowling ball presses down prior to the dent, then the mattresses springs back, prior to the ball moving up a little, and so on. What seems like a simultaneous cause and effect is actually billions of tiny oscillating causes and corresponding effects.

Heat is molecular motion. The concept of motion requires time.

This conversation is too silly to continue. It’s junior high level physics.

  (Quote)

Rob October 2, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I think maybe bossmanham thinks “heat” is a substance, like the old phlogiston theory or the even worse caloric theory.

Heat is the process of energy transfer. It makes no sense to speak of heat without time being involved.

  (Quote)

Joel October 2, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Craig’s definition of temporal beginning obviously cannot include the universe itself. Let’s substitute “x” for “time”, since the universe basically is the totality of space-time.

“time begins to exist” = ‘time exists at t and there is no time immediately prior to t at which time exists.’

It says no more than that time exists where time exists and that time does not exist where time does not exist.

The same applies to “everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence”, since it is unclear whether what is true of the part (stuff in the universe) is true of the whole/the set (the universe itself), and since causation may well be a relational property within space-time itself.

  (Quote)

Tony Hoffman October 2, 2010 at 5:25 pm

“Time,” as I think Woody Allen says, “is that thing that prevents everything from happening all at once.”

What I wonder about is (if not time) what is that thing that prevented God from creating the universe before he did?

  (Quote)

MichaelPJ October 2, 2010 at 5:51 pm

bossmanham,

Water falling from the sky is a part of rain. Water can also fall from the sky if, say, someone were throwing water out of an aeroplane. That wouldn’t be rain. Nonetheless, it is incorrect to say that rain causes water to fall from the sky. Water falling from the sky is a component of rain, just as releasing heat is a component of fire.
Thus we can have heat without fire in the same way that we can have water falling from the sky without rain.

Fire is a chemical reaction that causes nearby molecules to move extremely fast, which is heat. But it is a simultaneous situation, where the fire exists and it is causing the heat without need for any temporal duration.

Not true. The molecular motion spreads out at speeds no faster than the speed of light.
Fire is a chemical reaction. That reaction releases energy (and no, it does not cause energy to be released). Some short but measurable period of time later, that energy causes nearby molecules to start moving faster. The whole thing is thoroughly temporal.

Patrick,
Your argument replacing “universe” with “God” is fantastic. I think it really hits the nail on the head as regards the equivocation of “prior”. I think that may be the nail in the coffin of this form of the argument.

  (Quote)

Hermes October 2, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Patrick,
Your argument replacing “universe” with “God” is fantastic. I think it really hits the nail on the head as regards the equivocation of “prior”. I think that may be the nail in the coffin of this form of the argument.

Seconded. I’m glad to take a second look at it. It’s brilliant.

  (Quote)

Rob October 2, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I suspect that Craig will claim that God is metaphysically prior to the universe, not temporally. Whenever an apologist wants to make up some stuff, all they have to do is claim it is metaphysical and hence untestable/unfalsifiable.

Such assertions can safely be ignored as meaningless.

  (Quote)

Frank October 2, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Hi,

I found this site after googling “debunking bart ehrman.” I am a Christian, but wanted to see what kind of arguments there are against my faith. I guess I don’t want to argue per se, but would like to perhaps debate on occasion to stay sharp. After all, if the bible is really true, then I shouldn’t have to worry.

Anyways, just saying hi, and I may drop in on occasion.

For thoe into the freewill debat, head over to http://ichthys.com/Satanic-Rebellion-Home-Page.htm. I found it some good food for thought.

  (Quote)

Hermes October 2, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Frank, I don’t argue against Christianity. I ask for support for theistic claims; what do you believe and why do you believe it (as the folks at The Atheist Experience say). So far, they are thin at best. I’ve been looking at them for a few decades and have talked to dozens of theologians.

What I appreciate the most is honesty. I hate to mention that, but most of what I hear is based on convent details while other inconvenient details are ignored or distorted.

Bottom line: I am not a theist — let alone a Christian — because there is no positive evidence for theism that I find convincing. If I did, I would in that moment I would be some kind of theist, if not a specific kind of Christian.

I don’t have any reason to hold on to invalid ideas while ignoring better ones. I try and go with the best available ideas, and that currently does not theistic ideas though unlike many atheists I don’t reject all religious ideas. For about 10 years after deciding that theism is not valid — that belief in a god or gods is not valid — and that supernaturalism is incoherent I still considered myself to be a Christian. If this seems strange to you, consider that it’s not strange to encounter “cultural Jews”, so why would it be strange to encounter a “cultural Christian”?

As for free will, I have no interest in that. Either we have it and can act on it, or we don’t. What I see that seems to be most real is that we have free will with substantial limits based on a variety of factors. Reality isn’t a philosophical abstraction.

  (Quote)

Reidish October 2, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Patrick,
You wrote:

1. All things which begin to exist have a cause.
2. For a thing to “begin to exist,” it must exist at time T, AND there must be no time prior to T at which that thing exists.
3. At the beginning of the universe, time started.
4. GOD existed at the beginning of the universe.
5. There was no time prior to the beginning of the universe.
6. Therefore God existed at time T (the beginning of the universe), and no time existed prior to T at which point God existed.
7. Therefore God began to exist.
8. Therefore God had a cause.
So… yeah.

Craig has addressed this already:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8243

“…for any entity e and time t,

e comes into being at t if and only if (i) e exists at t, (ii) t is the first time at which e exists, (iii) there is no state of affairs in the actual world in which e exists timelessly, and (iv) e’s existing at t is a tensed fact.”

  (Quote)

Patrick October 2, 2010 at 8:57 pm

I’m not surprised that he answered this with straight up question begging. Dude’s got massive, massive balls.

  (Quote)

Frank October 2, 2010 at 9:08 pm

SHey hermes, that’s pretty cool and understandable. I think the fact that your looking for us to support our beliefs is not unreasonable, in fact I think having me support my beliefs will actually strengthen my own beliefs.

I don’t expect you to believe, but I have some good reasons for my faith. I will post a full testimony, hopefully, on my blog next Friday 10/8. The blog is http://www.dontaskthatinchurch.blogspot.com. though now I may have to go back and examine it to make sure its actually well organized.

My summary, is that I grew up with my father telling me bible stories as a kid. Later I got into some new age stuff, but became a very shallow and legalistic Christian at 19. I had some experiences that I would classify as supernatural, and not positive, and my faith in Christ helped me through those. I have also had some prayers that were answered and I feel that they were a true experience with God. Yet even after this I had a lot of doubts. So, I worked through it and actually READ the Bible, and what brought me back was that it was written by different authors yet had a consistant message.

So, that’s the nutshell version, to me I guess it was more that it was a personal experience, and some struggling.

Could you post me a link or share some of the “thin” support for theistic evidence with me? I would not be surprised if the “evidence” you were given for Theism was thin or shallow. I am sad to admit that Christians in America may not be living up to their full potential. I know, I was there.

I also suppose its not unusual to call yourself a cultural christian, I am sure many Christians are in the same boat. I have an opinion about this, but its not fully formed, and so sharing it likely wouldn’t be beneficial to you at this point. Maybe once I develop it, maybe ill say something about it.

Anyways, thanks for stimulating my graymatter, I hope ican return the favor!

  (Quote)

Frank October 2, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Related to this post,

I guess my thoughts are that God is infinite. As such He is in a higher dimension than the 4 we find ourselves in. Physicists like Michio Kaku and other quantum theorists say that there are more higher dimensions, I don’t have sources, I apologize.

So since God is above the dimesnions we can interact with, He has more power to do things in our dimension than we do. Its like the novel flatland. You or ican creat a whole flat world in 2 dimensions by drawing it on paper. Then if we add a mr circle, we could know and change his world in ways that would baffle mr. Circle.

That’s my attempt at a logical interpretation of God as a being that would make sens to science, obviously this doesn’t address my own personal beliefs.

Peace out

  (Quote)

Rob October 2, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Patrick,

It’s not question begging if you smuggle in your conclusion behind an exclamation mark!

  (Quote)

Joel October 2, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Could anyone give a non- question begging account of temporal becoming for time itself? If not, then would space-time not be one of the contenders for uncaused cause or brute fact?

  (Quote)

Tristan D. Vick October 3, 2010 at 12:56 am

Herein lies the problem. The Kalam cosmological argument does not presuppose monotheism. In other words, there isn’t anything to suggest that it wasn’t a pantheon of minds/deities/gods which created the universe instead of just one. Why is this a problem? Consider the following logical argument:

1. The inference that there was only one creating agent is true
2. The inference that there was more than one creating agent is true
3. Both can’t be simultaneously true
4. Therefore, if 1 is true then 2 is false and if 2 is true then 1 is false
5. Unable to defer to either 1 or 2 the possibility of neither/none

Therefore there is no direct corollary between the inference of any creating agent(s) and the causality of the universe. What does this mean? It means, that like a team of computer programmers toiling away to design a complex computer program, the universe could very well have been designed and brought into existence by an assembly of advanced thinking beings/deities. Furthermore there is no way to deduce whether it was one or a thousand gods who assumedly did the toiling. But since it can’t be both, and both are equally plausible and therefore equally unlikely, neither option can be justified by inference alone, thus none becomes the more likely option—leaving us right back where we started—at ground zero. Therefore the Kalam cosmological argument fails.

  (Quote)

Taranu October 3, 2010 at 3:03 am

I don’t see how drawing an analogy that involves a non-physical free agent outside the Universe and a physical deterministic process within the Universe is going to prove anything even if the Universe is teeming with instances of simultaneous causation.

  (Quote)

h3nry October 3, 2010 at 4:20 am

Hi Tristan, spot on! I think one of the key attacks on KCA should be on the ‘personal’ aspect of it in proposition (4). Supporters of KCA must expand (4) to argue what it means to be ‘personal’ – and whatever the answers might be, the atheists should be able to tear them down pretty comfortably.

Then with (5), KCA supporters must explain why does it have to be God (with capital G) and not the Greek gods, Hindu gods and so on. In fact, since this ultimate cause is such that it is not bound by time and space and everything else, then who are we mere mortals to say that it can’t be something that we cannot even conceive of?

Since the title of this series has the words “personal cause”, I am guessing quite a bit of effort will be focusing on “personal” dimension of the KCA.
:-)

  (Quote)

Beelzebub October 3, 2010 at 5:09 am

Maybe I’m jumping ahead, but what sticks in my craw is the idea that “personal” can exist without “material.” Personal, i.e. a conscious entity is an epiphenomenon of very material neural circuitry. Hence, there can be nothing personal prior to matter, therefore there can be no God prior to matter. And KCA fails. QED.

  (Quote)

Reidish October 3, 2010 at 5:33 am

Patrick:

I’m not surprised that he answered this with straight up question begging. Dude’s got massive, massive balls.

So, I gather from your ad hominem that on your view it is impossible for anything to exist timelessly? Is that right?

  (Quote)

Patrick October 3, 2010 at 6:11 am

How about you give me five examples of things that definitely exist, and are definitely timeless?

  (Quote)

Hermes October 3, 2010 at 6:30 am

Frank, I don’t have a single link for the ‘thin’ support of theism I mentioned because it is ubiquitous. The thicker stuff tends to be similar yet takes a much more circuitous route to get there.

My recommendation is that you just look around. Both types aren’t hard to find.

As for me, I’m an agnostic atheist. I don’t claim to know for a fact that no deities exist anywhere (agnostic), though I have no gods (a non-theist / an atheist).

Deist and pantheist deities are logically and factually coherent, yet have no positive evidence for them.

I’ve read the Bible twice plus countless commentaries, talked with everyone from people who just believe but know nothing through to theologians/priests/seminary students, Mormons and Jehova’s Witnesses, Catholics through one-off local ‘Bible-based’ believers, Muslims and Hindus and Taoists and Buddhists and Scientologists. I’ve read parts to all of many religious books from the groups I just mentioned.

I’ve taken anthropology/archeology, history, ancient studies, and I still keep up with that. Right now, I’m doing an in-depth review of ancient Greece and Rome as well as Norse and the mince meat that came out of pre-Roman British literature once the Romans got involved.

I have followed some religious practices such as meditation and have had experiences through them that are interesting, such as sensory manipulation and stopping some autonomic functions such as my heart (briefly of course, though I knew a sharp shooter that could do that to improve his aim). (Meditation, done properly, is similar to an intense prayer without a target or a goal. Physiological studies of Buddhist monks and Catholic nuns that spend substantial time in active meditation or prayer tend to see similar results.)

A side note to go with where a god may be, one Mormon (not representative of conversations I’ve had with Mormons, but definitely more energetic) had this to say;

What is god? He is a Man, Who knows ALOT more than we do, and is our literal spiritual Father,
What is it made of? Flesh & blood
What does it look like? A Man in his most perfect state
Where does it live? in his heavenly kingdom near Kolob –

Source: http://atheistexperience.blogspot.com/2010/09/good-luck-with-that-larry.html

So, who’s to say that she’s got it wrong while the Hindus have it right?

Yet, I’ll focus back on something I wrote a few paragraphs above. There are things I believe — or don’t believe — and there are things that I know — or don’t claim to know. In each case, it’s a sliding scale. So, if someone came to me and said that they knew for a fact if any deities existed or not, and that they wanted to bet that I could not guess the correct answer, I’d take that bet. The answer would be a practical and honest one; that there aren’t any. Yet, in philosophical terms I have to give the nod to specific types of deities; the deist and pantheist types. As I mentioned, those are credible philosophically. Yet, I’m not a pantheist or deist of some sort because I don’t find them credible enough to believe.

As for monotheism, many of those types of deities are either not described coherently or are self-contradictory. As for the subset of all conceptions of the Abrahamic deity — all Christianities, all Islams, all Judiasms — of the ones that I have dealt with, every example has been either incoherent or self-contradictory.

Popular yet simple examples of each include “God is everything” (the same as can be claimed by pantheists or many other specific religious groups) or the specific clam that the Christian or Muslim deity is an all-knowing/all-powerful/all-good deity (aka an omnimax deity). A small bit of digging shows where the first is meaningless (why call it a god, why not just call it everything?) and the second is inconsistent (contradicts reality).

On a moral level, I do not expect any theist to be better than or worse than anyone else; theist or not, religious or not. That said, there is some indication that the idea of yin and yang have merit; focus on moral edicts bleed out in moral wrongs in other places.

After all of that, I currently think that theistic beliefs (not religious beliefs) are a mis-attribution of different aspects of being human. Do the experiences happen? Yes. Do they trace back to any reality-bending personalities that are independent of our own? No. We are the story we tell of ourselves. Theism is a plot line, a thematic set of glasses. Some Christians even promote putting on ‘Bible glasses’ to see the world through those lenses.

  (Quote)

Tony Hoffman October 3, 2010 at 6:46 am

It occurs to me that I might not have a clear idea by what an apologist means by personal. Does anyone have a link (or just provide me with a short definition) that they can point to me on the apologists’ definition of “personal.”

  (Quote)

Tony Hoffman October 3, 2010 at 7:21 am

Patrick: “I’m not surprised that he answered this with straight up question begging. Dude’s got massive, massive balls.”

Reidish: “So, I gather from your ad hominem…”

The ad hominem trigger seems to get pulled too often. Patrick didn’t say that Craig’s explanation failed because Craig has massive balls; he said that Craig’s argument is question begging. Patrick’s wasn’t an ad hominem, it was an accusation of fallaciousness accompanied by an insult. That’s different than an ad hominem.

  (Quote)

Rob October 3, 2010 at 8:31 am

Patrick,

I suspect the apologist would answer that numbers exist timelessly, and the three classical laws of thought (law of identity, law of non-contradiction, law of excluded middle) exist timelessly.

Even if you buy into this Platonism, the apologist still has to explain how these things causally interact with the physical world. Do numbers cause anything? It seems to me that they don’t.

  (Quote)

Patrick October 3, 2010 at 9:09 am

Yeah… except those are all just adjectives, if you think about it. For example, the law of non-contradiction isn’t a *thing* that’s out there filing small claims suits in celestial civil court against objects that attempt to be themselves and not themselves at the same time. Its a description of a property that things have.

The only ground I’ll give apologists on that issue is that most atheists don’t explain very well where the apologists have gone wrong. You’ll often hear things like, “laws of logic didn’t exist before people, humans invented the laws of logic.” By which the atheist means that the laws of logic are descriptive phrases that human beings gave to the ways things around them operate. Said descriptions didn’t exist before people gave them, but the things described obviously did. But the theist hears “humans invented the laws of logic” and concludes that the atheist must believe in some crazy, chaotic, non logical universe prior to people or something.

  (Quote)

Zeb October 3, 2010 at 10:28 am

Tony, the way I understand and apply “personal” is “having a unified consciousness and will.”

  (Quote)

Tony Hoffman October 3, 2010 at 10:36 am

Zeb, thanks — if that’s the definition it does help.

  (Quote)

Tracy October 3, 2010 at 11:28 am

Luke, will you also be examining Craig’s rejoinder to Morriston’s article?? The pdf can be found at:

http://www.lastseminary.com/cosmological-argument/Must%20the%20Beginning%20of%20the%20Universe%20Have%20a%20Personal%20Cause%20-%20A%20Rejoinder.pdf

  (Quote)

MichaelPJ October 3, 2010 at 11:38 am

Patrick,

Yeah… except those are all just adjectives, if you think about it. For example, the law of non-contradiction isn’t a *thing* that’s out there filing small claims suits in celestial civil court against objects that attempt to be themselves and not themselves at the same time. Its a description of a property that things have.

As someone who’s studied some philosophy of mathematics, this makes me smile a little. I wish it were that simple. Really, I do. People are very divided over just what the hell is going on with numbers and logic. That is to say, mathematics is really not a settled issue from a philosophical point of view. So it’s funny that it’s often wheeled out as an “uncontroversial” example.
Trust me, it isn’t.

Of course, this provides a response to an apologist who took that tack in that while some people do believe that numbers exist timelessly (in some way), this is by no means uncontroversial. And so isn’t really acceptable as an example unless you’re willing to go into the philosophy of mathematics and justify it!

  (Quote)

lukeprog October 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Tracy,

Yes, but not for a while. John’s series will only examine this one article. But I’m examining the whole dialectic on the KCA in my ‘mapping the kalam’ series.

  (Quote)

Reidish October 3, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Tony Hoffman,

Patrick: “I’m not surprised that he answered this with straight up question begging. Dude’s got massive, massive balls.”
Reidish: “So, I gather from your ad hominem…”
Tony Hoffman: “The ad hominem trigger seems to get pulled too often.”

You’re right, he wasn’t committing an ad hominem fallacy.

Patrick,
I apologize for what Tony was right to point out. Now, to your question:

How about you give me five examples of things that definitely exist, and are definitely timeless?

This has been addressed already above, but numbers I would argue exist timelessly. I think propositions expressing mathematical truths are timeless as well. MichaelPJ already pointed out that, while it is not a settled issue, it is a defensible view. Taken as such, there is no question-begging going on with Craig’s definition.

Rob,

Even if you buy into this Platonism, the apologist still has to explain how these things causally interact with the physical world. Do numbers cause anything? It seems to me that they don’t.

First, no one is committed to Platonism by thinking that numbers (your example) exist timelessly. Second, why do numbers have to “interact” with the physical world? If they are abstracta then, by definition, they are causally inert. How is this a problem for apologists (Christian, “abstacta-in”, or others)?

  (Quote)

MichaelPJ October 3, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Reidish,

My point was rather that while it is arguable that numbers exist timelessly, it’s not necessarily very persuasive. For example, I personally would disagree with that statement (in the sense that I think you meant it). I don’t really want to go into why (this isn’t the place for philosophy of mathematics), but as a result, I’m not terribly persuaded by that example.

There is also the interesting point that you noted:

IF the are abstracta then, by definition, they are causally inert.

Funny how our examples of timeless things are all causally inactive. And yet God supposedly does have causal powers. Just a little bit more evidence for the claim that all causation is temporal.

  (Quote)

Reidish October 3, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Hi MichaelPJ,

My point was rather that while it is arguable that numbers exist timelessly, it’s not necessarily very persuasive. For example, I personally would disagree with that statement (in the sense that I think you meant it).

I didn’t mean to imply you were persuaded by anything, just that there wasn’t any question-begging occurring within the definition. It doesn’t take much to refute that claim – we just have to give one example of another timeless entity.

Reidish: “If they [numbers] are abstracta then, by definition, they are causally inert.”
MichaelPJ: “Funny how our examples of timeless things are all causally inactive. And yet God supposedly does have causal powers. Just a little bit more evidence for the claim that all causation is temporal.”

Well, recall that the context here is the disjunction just between Platonism and abstractionism for ontologies that can accommodate timeless entities, plus the presupposition that Platonism is false. There may be more than two options here, or indeed Platonism could be true (I’m persuaded it isn’t). Furthermore, our shared examples discussed here (numbers and propositions expressing mathematical truths) are taken to be causally inert, yes. But this is not surprising if the opposing side is an atheist (or even more strongly, a naturalist), right?

  (Quote)

Patrick October 3, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Can someone point me to a good defense of the idea of numbers “existing” in some sense other than that by an accident of grammar we use the same word for objects actually being real as we do for concepts being real?

Because I’ll be honest, I just can’t take the idea seriously at this stage. This seems like equivocation on the meaning of “exist.”

Reidish- do you think that “yellowness” exists timelessly? What about “tallness?” What about the property of not being a fish? Is there anything you think exists timelessly (other than magical beings) that isn’t a descriptor?

  (Quote)

Rosita October 3, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Everything which exists had a beginning.
Everything which began to exist had a cause.
By conjectural definition, the Christian version of god never had a beginning.
By conjectural definition, the Christian version of god did not have a cause.
Therefore the Christian definition of god cannot exist.

  (Quote)

lukeprog October 3, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Patrick,

Read the first two chapters of Loux’s introduction to metaphysics. But yeah, I’m not persuaded.

  (Quote)

MichaelPJ October 4, 2010 at 2:33 am

Patrick,

There’s surprisingly little literature (in my experience) addressing the sort of meta-ontological question of whether “exists” has a universally applicable, well-defined meaning, or what. For an opposed view, that you might find attractive, try Carnap’s “Empiricism, semantics and ontology” (don’t worry, it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds!).

Also, here’s the SEP entry on Platonism in mathematics through the ages: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/platonism-mathematics/

  (Quote)

ShaneMcKee October 4, 2010 at 4:52 am

So I take it we’re agreed that the examples of simultaneous causation are really just examples of Craig’s ignorance of science? All that “causation” really represents is the evolution of a system, and that is arguably the territory of mathematics. Craig seems to perform better on a stage than with logic.

  (Quote)

Frank October 4, 2010 at 5:57 am

Hermes, you raise a lot of good points, there are a lot of so called “truths” out there. I myself started to llok at those things after becoming Christian, yet afterward kept my faith.

Ill definitely look around for the theist stuff, I am sure some is not that good and others probably good. Someone I think who is credible with decent thought put into his theories is dr michael s heiser. He also addresses polytheism and sort of integrates that into monotheism. That is confusing and not wholly accurate, but look into his “divine council” stuff.

I wish I had good and logical rebuttal points to what you raised, but I am not properly equipped yet. But you raise points that I need to be aware of.

Talk to you later

  (Quote)

Hermes October 4, 2010 at 7:21 am

Frank, I’m not here to recruit you and you don’t need to engage anything that I wrote at all. I’m just talking, and often I get carried away. (Speaking of…)

If we are both looking for the same best understanding of what is real — that we seek an understanding of reality itself — then it is likely that we both (given enough time and interest), will reach similar general conclusions though we will probably ‘see’ different parts of the elephant.

In my case, I am a big fan of mythology, and along with that is a study of religions and philosophy and anthropology and psychiatry and so many other related fields. As such, I don’t reject religions as without meaning. I do take the anthropologist’s position on myths though; that myths aren’t “Just a myth” as they are colloquially handled. I think that emphasis on myths is hamfisted and leads to quite a few misunderstandings for everyone theist or atheist, regardless of the religion followed if any at all. To paraphrase the anthropologists; ‘Myths are culturally relevant truths that may be but do not necessarily need to be literally true while they serve as a conduit to express those truths.’ We swim in a world bordered and organized by myths. People live and die for them, and treat them as tangible goods and as such they have weight and presence.

My primary frustration stems not from the myths being true or not. … There was a Trojan war, and there is evidence of massive floods in many cultures as seen in Genesis with Noah or in the Epic of Gilgamesh. … It is that people who hold the myths as literally true tend to discard the cultural truths embodied in them. They also may take the cultural truths of one society as valid in their entirety for their own society without question. They may never consider that the other societies got it wrong at the time and even now. They may see a myth and ‘correct’ it or interpret it in a way that wipes out what the people who wrote it meant.

That’s one of the reasons why you may see some atheists pointing out the bad parts of the Bible, for example slavery; that the OT has rules for how to handle slaves, who can be forced into slavery, and that the NT does not negate any of that. That set of cultural truths about slavery were wrong, and we are justified in pointing that out as well as other less obvious cultural artifacts.

  (Quote)

Rob October 4, 2010 at 8:44 am

Reidish,

“First, no one is committed to Platonism by thinking that numbers (your example) exist timelessly.”

OK.

“Second, why do numbers have to “interact” with the physical world? If they are abstracta then, by definition, they are causally inert. How is this a problem for apologists?”

It is a problem because the apologist wants to say that a timeless god caused something. Yet all supposedly timeless things we know of do not causally interact with the world. This is not a trivial problem.

  (Quote)

Rob October 4, 2010 at 8:57 am

ShaneMckee,

“So I take it we’re agreed that the examples of simultaneous causation are really just examples of Craig’s ignorance of science?”

I recall that Luke endorses simultaneous causation somewhere, maybe in a podcast. I might be wrong. I have encountered many so-called examples of simultaneous causation and so far they are all just based on folk physics, not real physics. I’m open to being wrong about this because I have never discussed it with a physicist, just apologists.

  (Quote)

bossmanham October 4, 2010 at 9:00 am

Patrick,

For the record, I didn’t say that fire and heat were identical, I said heat was a component of the chemical reaction that is fire.

Then why did you say, “You can’t point to “fire” and “heat” and say “these are two different things, and the former causes the latter.””?

Meanwhile, this conversation is going to be brutally painful as you struggle to use other people’s explanations of what “heat” and “fire” really are in order to patch together your initial ill thought example that you invented without really thinking or knowing about “fire” and “heat” in terms of their actual properties.

All this is irrelevant.

Rob,

The bowling ball presses down prior to the dent, then the mattresses springs back, prior to the ball moving up a little, and so on.

So? Without the bowling ball, the mattress would not have an indentation. If a bowling ball is resting on a mattress, it is causing an indentation. It doesn’t take time for that to happen. Consider an eternally existing bowling ball-mattress combo to make the thought experiment easier. Heck, say we freeze time or cool the bowling ball mattress to absolute zero. The bowling ball is still causing the indentation.

Heat is molecular motion. The concept of motion requires time.

You’re missing the point. Everything happens in time, it just so happens that when one thing exists it simultaneously causes another thing. In fact, as Kant pointed out, simultaneous causation is the most common type. I exist and simultaneously I exert a pressure on the surface I am standing on. When I squeeze a ball, while I am squeezing simultaneously pressure is being exerted on the ball. When an atom’s nucleus splits it simultaneously produces a great amount of energy.

As Kant put it (and I didn’t realize he used the same example when I thought it up; apparently I think like Kant), “For example, there is heat in a room, which does not exist in the open air. I look about for the cause, and find it to be the fire. Now the fire, as the cause, is simultaneous with its effect, the heat of the room. In this case, then, there is no succession, as regards time, between cause and effect, but they are simultaneous…The greater part of operating causes in nature are simultaneous with their effects, and the succession in time of the latter is produced only because the cause cannot achieve the total of its effect in one moment. But at the moment when the effect first arises, it is always simultaneous with the causality of its cause, because if the cause had but a moment before it ceased to be, the effect could not have arisen” (http://bit.ly/cisKyW).

Michael,

I never said rain caused water to fall from the sky. Rain is water falling from the sky (yes there is more to the definition, but I’m not that concerned about it). What causes rain is different.

  (Quote)

Steven October 4, 2010 at 9:21 am

What really bothers me about William Lane Craig’s argument is its relation to Christian Theology. Forget all the philosophical meandering, the Bible is very explicit when it comes to God. It says that God is an UNCHANGING being. But if God existed outside of time before He created the universe, then became subject to time after creation, God’s state must have changed, directly contradicting the Bible.

  (Quote)

Rob October 4, 2010 at 9:36 am

Bossmanham,

All I can say is you need to study some physics to get a clearer notion of what is going on when a bowling ball sits on a cushion.

At absolute zero, nothing happens. There are no events. There are no causes.

  (Quote)

Tony Hoffman October 4, 2010 at 9:44 am

Bossmanham,

I have to ask, did you ever take physics or chemistry in high school? Do you think that Kant is studied today for his explanations of physical events?

You appear uneducated — kind of like an imam, cut off from the real world, who emerges to explain to physicists and engineers how it is that the world works. Really, you don’t say? Fascinating.

  (Quote)

Rob October 4, 2010 at 10:20 am

Bossmanham,

Kant died before thermodynamics was worked out. It’s kinda like quoting Aristotle to explain motion. It may coincide with folk understandings, but to anyone with a modicum of science education, it’s just ridiculous.

  (Quote)

ShaneMcKee October 4, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Ah. An eternal bowling ball mattress combo. *that* real world example. Luke, whatever this Craig Johnny might fancy himself as as a debater, he is woefully behind in science and logic.

  (Quote)

woodchuck64 October 4, 2010 at 3:17 pm

bossmanham

Consider an eternally existing bowling ball-mattress combo to make the thought experiment easier. Heck, say we freeze time or cool the bowling ball mattress to absolute zero. The bowling ball is still causing the indentation.

For an eternally existing bowling ball-mattress combo, I don’t see how we could conclude one caused the other unless we also assume time flowed at some point. Without the assumption of time flow, we can only conclude the two exist causally independently of each other in a particular arrangement of matter.

If we freeze time or cool to absolute zero, we would still conclude causation because time flowed at some point in the past.

If you’re saying God caused the universe the way a bowling ball causes a mattress indentation, then you’re saying God took time to create time, which doesn’t make sense to me. If you’re saying God caused the universe the way a fire causes heat, you’re saying the universe is an attribute of God’s being. Neither seem to help me understand Craig’s argument.

  (Quote)

Reidish October 4, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Patrick,
Here’s a helpful bibliography on abstracta:
http://tedsider.org/teaching/abstract_entities_bib.pdf

For an argument from indispensability for such objects (which would be irrespective of time), see: Mark Colyvan, “In Defence of Indispensability” Philosophia Mathematica 6 (1998): 39-62.

You wrote:

Reidish – do you think that “yellowness” exists timelessly? What about “tallness?” What about the property of not being a fish?

I don’t know. I think those properties could exist timelessly (consider a possible world where there is no change), but I’m agnostic as to whether they exist in the actual world timelessly.

Is there anything you think exists timelessly (other than magical beings) that isn’t a descriptor?

Yes: numbers and propositions expressing mathematical truths. I take it those are not merely “descriptors”, by which I understand you to mean they are something like products of our cognitive function. I also don’t know what you mean by “magical”.

Rob,
You wrote,

Reidish: “Second, why do numbers have to “interact” with the physical world? If they are abstracta then, by definition, they are causally inert. How is this a problem for apologists?”
Rob: “It is a problem because the apologist wants to say that a timeless god caused something. Yet all supposedly timeless things we know of do not causally interact with the world.”

It’s not true that we know of no timeless things that causally interact with the world. No, a defender of the KCA believes that a timeless something created the universe – namely, God. So there’s an example, it just happens not to be shared between us. Now, accepting the KCA seems to definitely entail accepting that God could bring the world into existence from timelessness. But unless you are committed to saying this is impossible (maybe you are, and I missed it), then I don’t see how it is an effective rebuttal to the argument. Rather, I think it means that only God could do this.

  (Quote)

MichaelPJ October 5, 2010 at 3:50 am

bossmanham,

I never said you did say that. The point is that heat can be a component of fire, just as water falling from the sky is a component of rain, but we can have heat without fire, just as we can have water falling from the sky without rain. This in response to your objection to heat being a component of fire: “So how can we have heat without fire, then?”

  (Quote)

puntnf October 8, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Bossmanham reminds me of my father in some ways, in that he’d always be adorably overconfident in notions that were clearly silly to more logical individuals, like my brother and myself. It took me a while to completely grasp the concept of the light-year-metal-pole ITT. Once I did, however, I explained it to my father who immediately went “oh but OF COURSE! See it’s really simple if you think about?”.

“Oh..really? I thought it was absolutely mind blowing. Do tell”

“Well you see son, it’s because the pole won’t move until the force -completely envelops- the object. Also, such a concept is simply ridiculous because it’s impossible to happen anyway!”

“Actually Dad, it’s because a perfectly rigid pole is impossible. Isn’t that fascinating? I mean, it’s flexible.”

“Ah yes, but OF COURSE son. You see…it’s because back when I was working with nail guns, I’d be very experienced with this kind of thing. It’s because metal bends at temperatures in ..space”

“What?”

“Hell yea. Ain’t your Dad so smart. DAM IM SMART!” (convinced grin)

I love him

  (Quote)

Hermes October 8, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Puntnf, that’s not at all uncommon. I’ve met a few people like that. They’ll talk you into the ground until you agree that they are the authority regardless of what the topic is. Even when talking to experts, they will lecture the experts on their own expertise.

  (Quote)

Leave a Comment