Arguments for the Existence of God
by Metacrock - edited by JMT
Used with Permission
Argument No. 2
The Koons Cosmological argument.
My own simplistically boiled down version of Koon's argument:
1) Every wholly contingent fact has a cause.
(facts that are partly or wholly necessary need not)
2) Applying aggregation axiom, anything of a kind k = such a thing as aggregate of all kinds.
3) Aggregates can't exist unless all parts exist (which means necessary aggregate must have Necessary parts, contingent aggregate must have contingent parts. The result is necessary and contingent facts which means contingent aggregate as a whole).
4) Absolutely necessary facts cannot be caused, therefore, wholly contingent facts (those with only contingent parts) can be caused.
5) Causal principle can be thought of as empirically supported (effects not limited to a particular region of space/time in the case of physical laws for example. We have reason to suspect that all contingent facts have causes).
(Quantum theory is not a case to the contrary)
7) Causes make effect probable rather than necessary.
Normally a wholly contingent situation has a cause.
9) Experience warrants default of the causal principle in the absence of evidence to the contrary any wholly contingent situation has a cause.
The burden of proof shifts to atheist to prove why we should think of the universe as an exception just because it springs up beyond time.
10) If causes don't necessitate their effects, if cause and effect is probabilistic, and after all that's what the atheist says with QM, than we must extend the probability of the causal principle until shown some reason why we should not.
1) The universe is a giant web of contingency
2) Since the whole of the universe is contingency the universe itself is wholly contingent
3) Therefore, we can understand contingency as necessary through a defeasible assumption of probability.
4) We can assume that causes do not necessitate their effects (from 3)
5) Therefore, temporal nature of causality cannot be assumed to equal an uncaused non contingent universe unless the atheist can demonstrate some reason why we should understand it that way.
We have precedent for assuming universe is caused..
6) It is the atheist burden of proof to show that the default assumption should be set in this manner.
7) If the atheist does go with this assumption, he is going to evoke absolute skepticism.
In thinking about the Origin of the universe, all we can do is choose our axioms wisely and guess at the answer. We can't prove things, we have no data, no observations of a directly empirical nature to go on, so all we can do is make the best assumptions and go with the most probable answer.
Now he atheists want to dismiss the whole question for its lack of empirical nature, and then as a default, to assume that the universe must be wholly uncaused and probably non contingent, merely because we have no means of establishing the sort of certainty about its contingency and causation that we have for establishing that of any event in space/time. "Since there is no definitive data," the atheist reasons, "one is free to assume that the universe must be uncaused and that no since causality seems to be identified with temporality that the lack of establishing causation for the universe must imply that the universe doesn't require a cause of any kind."
This is actually an informal fallacy known as "special pleading." The atheist is merely saying "well, in this one special case there is an exception to the rule, so we should assume this exception rather than assume that the rule can be extended." He then trades upon the temporal nature of causality (or what seems to be a temporal nature) to argue that, since the universe as a whole is an exception to the rule (temporal becoming) then it must lack any sort of contingency and therefore just sprang into being uncaused for no reason.
This is special pleading because, having also declared that causality is not a matter of logic but must be established a posteriori, the lack of temporality means that the universe itself as a whole is the one exception, but we are not bound to extend the observations that hold in every other case we know, for they are all cases within time. Thus there can be no causality for the universe, thus we must assume that cause for the universe is not needed.
1) We can still use a posteriori reasoning
Contradiction to argue that causality is a creature of a posteriori reasoning, and then argue that we can't make assumptions based upon a posteriori observations and extend them into the unknown.
2) Special Pleading for acausality
it's special pleading because they want presumption for this one case of an uncaused a temporal universe but they don't want to disconnect from a strict apodictic reasoning about causality on any other topic, such as miracles.
3) Special Pleading on inductive Assumptions
Since we have no observations one way or the other beyond space/time we have to ask what are the best assumptions? Since these cannot be gleaned from anything other than logical extension of temporally bound observations, the atheist cannot prove any better the theist the nature of the case. But rather than let things stand at a tie, the atheist still wants the privilege of deciding when exceptions count for and when they count against observation and extension.
What all of this means is that if we are not to special plead, the atheist has the burden of proof to demonstrate the universe is in fact an exception to all our observations of the causal principle. The fact that the universe would come to be out of a non temporal situation doesn't mean that it can spring up as if by magic. It really means:
a) that it couldn't ever come to be since there would be no causality and no time and thus no way for it to ever come to be.
b) The fact that it did come to be doesn't prove that we are wrong about the contingent nature of the universe, it means that we must be wrong about the situation with respect to time and causality. The only way we can understand that is to understand causation in a different context rather than trying abandon the notional of the causal principle and pretend that a magically popping universe is not an affront to reason.
c) this can be done through the assumption of defeasible reasoning, under which it becomes the burden of the atheist to prove that the universe is an exception.
All of this leads to Robert Koons' version of the cosmological argument. This argument is designed not to evoke the temporal nature of cause. Koons uses three types of logic to put over this argument:
1) Percie's notion of fact types and fact tokens
2) Mereology (aggregation axioms)
3) Defeasible reasoning (non monotonic)
For an explanation of the fact token/type situation I turn to Dr. Koons himself:
Spring '98, University of Texas
LECTURE #7: Contemporary Versions: My Argument
Facts are the kinds of things that make declarative sentences, like "Caesar has died", true. Facts enter into cause and effect relations with other facts. We can distinguish between "types" and "tokens", to use terms introduced into philosophy by C. S. Pierce. Each individual penny is a token, and the property or kind of penny-hood is a type. Each penny is a token of one and the same type, which is multiply realized in different places at different times. My argument concerns fact-tokens, not fact-types. For example, we can use the phrases "that Caesar died", "Caesar's dying" or "Caesar's death" to refer either to a fact-token, the particular, actual occurrence that constituted the ending of Caesar's life, or to a fact-type, the kind of occurrence in which the individual Caesar dies. Thus, the token of Caesar's death includes the actual thrust of Brutus's blade, and that very token would not have existed had Caesar died in some other way, of old age, for example. In contrast, the type, Caesar's dying, could have been realized in many different ways, including the actual assassination and the non-actual dying in old age. My argument focuses on the actual token I call the cosmos. This token includes all of the wholly contingent fact-tokens in the world as parts -- had the slightest detail been different anywhere at any time, the particular token I am calling 'the cosmosí would not have existed. It would instead be replaced by a different token. The fact-type, the existing of a universe, could have been realized by many different possible tokens.
For an explanation of Mereology I again turn to Dr. Koons:
"My argument focuses on the particular token that actually realized this type. If we assume that every fact has a cause, then there could exist no uncaused fact. Instead, I assume that every wholly contingent fact has a cause. Facts that are partly or wholly necessary need not, and indeed cannot, be caused. Since facts are concrete, actual things, we can talk meaningfully about the parts of a fact. Consequently, I use the principles of the mathematical theory of mereology, the theory of the part-whole relation. The most important principle of mereology is the aggregation axiom. This axiom states that, if there are any things of kind K, then there is such a thing as the aggregate of all the K's. For example, there is such a thing as water, so we can talk meaningfully about the aggregate or "mereological sum" of all the world's water. I assume that an aggregate cannot exist unless all of its parts exist. This means that a necessary aggregate must have only necessary parts, since if an aggregate has a contingent part, then that part might not exist, which would mean that the aggregate would not exist either. Aggregates are not like bodies or institutions, which can go on existing without the same parts. However, a contingent aggregate can have necessary parts. If we glue together some contingent and necessary facts, the resulting aggregate is contingent as a whole. I assume that an absolutely necessary fact cannot be caused. If a fact is caused, then all of its parts are caused. So, any fact that contains a necessary fact cannot be caused.
Therefore, it is only wholly contingent facts that can be caused. A wholly contingent fact is a fact that has only contingent parts. I argue that the causal principle should be thought of as empirically supported. We find that a wide variety of facts are caused. This includes conditions both small and large (from atomic physics to astronomy and cosmology), both recent and ancient, both transient and long-lasting. We even discover that many everlasting conditions have causes. For example, the fact that the physical world is approximately Newtonian is caused by certain features of general relativity. Similarly, the ideal gas laws are caused by the underlying dynamics of the gas molecules, and Brownian motion is caused by atomic collisions. In these cases, the effects are not limited to a particular region of space or time. Thus, we have good empirical reason to believe that every fact that can be caused, that is, every wholly contingent fact, has a cause.
"In my article, I use the rationale for a first cause that was first developed by ibn Sina and also created, independently, I think, by Leibniz....We use the aggregation axiom to construct the aggregate of all wholly contingent, actual facts, which I call C. I prove that C is itself wholly contingent, since there is no way that any necessary parts could be included in it. Consequently, my causal principle entails that C itself must have a cause. I assume that causes and effects are always separate things, with no overlap or common parts. Therefore, the cause of C must have no wholly contingent parts, or else it would overlap with C. But every contingent thing has a wholly contingent part (whatever is left over after all the necessary parts have been deleted), so the cause of C must be a necessary fact."
Temporality: the a temporal cause:
"I try to build into my argument no assumption whatsoever about the relationship between causation and time. There are several reasons for this. ...We also have some reason for resisting a commitment to the diachronic conception. As we have seen, if time itself had a beginning, and the beginning of the universe is simultaneous with the beginning of time, then it is difficult to find a moment at which God could cause the universe to begin. I don't think this is an insuperable problem, but it does cause some awkwardness. If we assume a diachronic model of causation, we must either assume that there was some sort of "time before time", or we must assume that God's act of creating was instantaneous, even though all physical states have a positive duration (take up some interval of time). In contrast, if we reject the diachronic model, we can leave open the possibility that the temporal universe had a timeless, atemporal cause. The diachronic model includes a requirement that causes always be earlier in time than their effects. This requirement seems less compelling if we entertain the possibility that causation is the fundamental reality, and that space and time are derivative relations, depending on the underlying network of causal connections. Instead of saying that causes must precede their effects, we can say that the relation of "earlier-than", where it is appropriate, must correspond with the "cause-effect" relation. Similarly, instead of saying that there can be no action (causation) at a distance, we can instead define distance as that at which there is no action. In other words, what makes two events close in space is the existence of direct causal links between their parts. If we take such an approach toward explaining the existence of space and time, we can explain why causes are typically earlier than their effects (at least, in our experience, which is limited to things locatable in space and time). This explanation, however, does not rule out the possibility of cause-effect connections that have no temporal dimension whatsoever, as in timeless causes of temporal reality."
Now the atheist thinks the default of timelessness and lack of observation are on his side and that is the reason he will advance for doing so. But defeasible reason is on our side, we have presumption, it is his burden to proof to show that this is not special pleading and that it should be applies to the universe. Otherwise we have to assume that there is a probability of cause for the universe, since it is wholly contingent, and that the situation vis timelessness is other than we assume it to be.
Link to my old arg.2 cosmological.This argument is in the process of being re-organized and updated.
By Metacrock. Used with Permission.
For more articles by the same author, see Doxa.