Cross Examination: The Cosmological Argument

The cosmological argument is a classic philosophical argument for a First Cause to the universe, which is usually extended to be an argument for a god that created the universe.  It has been used for centuries in many different ways.  I’ve run across this argument several times in my Cross Examination investigation.

cosmos

The cosmological argument arises out of a human curiosity as to why there is something rather than nothing.  There are several different versions of the argument.  The classic argument goes like this:

  1. Every finite and contigent being has a cause.
  2. A causal loop cannot exist.
  3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.
  4. Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.

A more modern version of the argument, put forward by William Lane Craig, goes like this:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe had a cause.

The logic of the argument is sound, in that, if the first two premises are true, the conclusion must follow.  So, in order to attack the argument, one must attack one of the first two premises.

A Defense of the Premises

The first premise of the argument is basically a restatement of the Law of Causation, which is a fundamental law in the natural sciences, especially physics.  It has been confirmed time and again by both experience and by scientific testing and theory, and by a metaphysical intuition that something cannot come into being from nothing.

The second premise is supported by both philosophical arguments and by scientific evidence.  The philosophical arguments for the are mainly to prove that an infinite regress of events in time is impossible (or the number of past events must be finite), and therefore the universe must have had a beginning.  However, the philosophical evidence for the second premise is not focused on by critics, but rather the scientific evidence.

The scientific evidence for the beginning of the universe is based upon the expansion of the universe.  This was first theorized by Albert Einstein in his theory of general relativity (which I discussed in a previous post), and has since been confirmed time and again by observation.

In fact, in 2003, Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin were able to demonstrate that any universe which is, on average, in a state of cosmic expansion over its history, cannot be eternal, but had to have an absolute beginning.  Valenkin said, “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man.  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” (Many Worlds In One, 176).

Full disclosure: Vilenkin goes on, a few pages later, to say that their proof “does not give much of an advantage to the theologian over the scientist,” and says that their proof is not a proof of the existence of God, only a proof that the universe had a beginning.  I would also like to disclose that Arvind Borde is a professor of mathematics at Long Island University, Alan Guth is a professor of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Alexander Vilenkin is a professor of physics and cosmology at Tufts University.

The Objections

One of the most common objections to the cosmological argument is that it allows for a special pleading for God.  This is untrue.  The argument is all-encompassing, in that it applies universally to all finite beings (see point # 1 in both the classical and modern arguments).  Since God is an infinite, eternal being, and does not meet the criteria of premise #1, this is not a case of special pleading.

Another objection that I’ve heard, and one that I think is quite right, is that this argument, even if it is valid and right, does not lead us to the God of the Bible, or any other particular god.  I agree with this objection.  While this argument does appear to be valid, and does point to a First Cause, it does not point directly to the God of the Bible as the First Cause.

This is the primary objection that Richard Dawkins raises in his book, The God Delusion.  He says, “Even if we allow the dubious luxury of arbitrarily conjuring up a terminator to an infinite regress and giving it a name, simply because we need one, there is absolutely no reason to endow that terminator with any of the properties normally ascribed to God: omnipotence, omniscience, goodness, creativity of design, to say nothing of such human attributes of listening to prayers, forgiving sins and reading innermost thoughts.”  Dawkins does not even attempt to refute either the first or second premises of the argument, but rather questions the theological implications of the argument.  In other words, he doesn’t try to disprove the argument, but rather states that its conclusion doesn’t lead to the god of the Bible.

Conclusions from the Cosmological Argument

What conclusions can be derived by the cosmological argument?  Since there was indeed a First Cause of the universe, as shown by the cosmological argument, there are several things that can be known about that First Cause:

  1. As the cause of space and time, this entity must transcend space and time, and must exist timelessly and non-spatially.
  2. This cause must be immaterial and changeless, since anything that is timeless has to be changeless, and anything that is changeless has to be immaterial, since material things are constantly changing, at least on the molecular and atomic level. 
  3. Such a cause must be beginning-less, and uncaused (which speaks to the objection above about special pleading).
  4. Must be unimaginably powerful, since it created the universe from no material.  This does NOT mean that the First Cause is omnipotent (can do anything), but only that it is more powerful than anything else that exists, and that it was powerful enough to create everything in the universe.  In this sense, the First Cause was unimaginably powerful.
  5. A First Cause is plausibly personal – the personhood of the First Cause is implied by its timelessness and immateriality.  The only entities that we know of that can possess those qualities are abstract objects or an unembodied mind or consciousness.  Since abstract objects don’t stand in causal relations (ex: the number seven doesn’t have any effects on anything), therefore the First Cause must be an unembodied mind.  For those of you who are of a semantic nature out there, the word “personal” is being used in this sense of “existing as a self-aware entity,” rather than in the sense of “a God who relates to us.”

Discussion Question: If you were to attack a premise of this argument, which one would you attack?  You can leave your comments by clicking here.

This post is in my series called “Cross Examination: Is Debunking Christianity Possible?” I’m looking at a myriad of topics in the rational examination of my faith, and will write one post per week for the next year. If you would like to read some of the previous posts in this series, click on the links below:

  • Anonymous

    Young Robert,

    I have enjoyed reading your articles and engaging you and boomSLANG in discussion re. this series of articles.  However, this particular article is not up to your usual high standards (in my humble opinion).  In addition, your absolute bias in favor of the cosmological argument is patently obvious throughout the article.  Claiming that this particular article serves your purpose of “cross examining” Christianity appears thoroughly disingenuous.

    This would have been a more appropriate title for this article:

    The Cosmological Argument:  Why I Believe It… by Young Robert the Christian Apologist

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Sid, if it makes you feel better, sure.

      However, your objection does nothing to disprove the cosmological argument as I’ve laid it out. If my bias in favor of the cosmological argument is evident (and I agree with you, it is), then please offer some counter-argument.

      Also, you say that I’m being disingenuous, but what kind of “cross examination” would the series be without examining the philosophical arguments that are out there for a god?

      • Anonymous

        “Sid, if it makes you feel better, sure.”

        I do not feel better or worse as a result of reading this article.  I merely pointed out that it is not up to the high standards you have upheld in your previous articles (in my opinion).  

        “However, your objection does nothing to disprove the cosmological argument as I’ve laid it out.”

        I thought the purpose of this series of articles was to “cross examine” different subjects so you can decide what you do (or do not) believe.  You obviously believed in the cosmological argument when you wrote this article, and this article stated why you believe in the cosmological argument.  This is not a “cross examination” on your part.  This is pure apologetics.  Calling this a “cross examination” is disingenuous.

        I have heard William Lane Craig’s arguments on this topic ad nauseam, ad infinitum.  No point filling up space here rehashing it all.  This is a link to a comprehensive lecture on the subject (4 parts):

        Dr. Hawking says he believes the universe required no creator.  Based upon my finite ability to grasp this particular complex issue, Hawking’s explanation seems more reasonable to me that the notion that YHWH made it all.  Therefore, I see no point in debating if the universe had a beginning or not.  If it did have a beginning, I do not have sufficient evidence to believe YHWH created it.  

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Sid, I investigated the cosmological argument in the course of my study, and wrote a post about it. Because I found that it was compelling, I wrote the post in that way. You argue that my conclusion about the cosmological argument shows that I’m being disingenuous because I came to a conclusion that you did not like.

          Furthermore, I offered two objections to the cosmological argument, one which I agree with, and one which I don’t.

          You can say that I’m being disingenuous all you want… the evidence doesn’t back you up in this case.

          You say that Dr. Hawking says that the universe doesn’t require a creator, but there are many scientists that think differently. Other than the fact that Dr. Hawking said, “I don’t think the universe required a creator,” what evidence did he propose to support that?

          • Anonymous

            “You argue that my conclusion about the cosmological argument shows that I’m being disingenuous because I came to a conclusion that you did not like.”

            That is absolute balderdash, Young Robert.  I have clearly (and repeatedly) stated that I do not know if the universe had a beginning or not.  I have no firm position one way or the other.

            “You can say that I’m being disingenuous all you want… the evidence doesn’t back you up in this case.”

            Claiming that you are “cross examining” an issue when you have already concluded that your point of view is correct is being disingenuous.  This article appears to be an obvious attempt by you to convince the readers that your preconceived point of view is the correct one.  This is apologetics 101.  

            “You say that Dr. Hawking says that the universe doesn’t require a creator, but there are many scientists that think differently. Other than the fact that Dr. Hawking said, “I don’t think the universe required a creator,” what evidence did he propose to support that?”

            Broc and I have both mentioned several times that The Discovery Channel recently aired a program with Dr. Hawking (and a diverse panel of individuals) on this very subject.  Hopefully it will be shown again so you can view it:

            http://curiosity.discovery.com/topic/space-exploration/did-god-create-universe-episode.htm

          • Maureen Kennedy

            Okay, sidvicious, now you’re being a bit ridiculous. You still haven’t answered Bob in any logical way. You seem to be merely grumping about the fact that Bob sees the Cosmological argument as being a valid proof for the existence of some sort of uncreated being, but have yet to counter his argument other than to state your personal belief that you “do not know” if the universe had a beginning or not. How ambiguous of you.

            You’re bashing Bob for examining an argument and coming to a solid conclusion based on the evidence he believes to be more compelling. He even gave arguments backing up his belief that the universe did, in fact, have a beginning; and you’re simply complaining about it! Do you think that there is some sort of inherent problem with the cosmological argument and that he should stay firmly rooted in your weak “I don’t know” stance (which is really no stance at all), or are you just afraid to admit that he has a point? If his argument is so poor, why not actually give a solid, logical
            reason as to why you think that your stance is the preferred one?

          • Anonymous

            “You still haven’t answered Bob in any logical way.”

            Yes, I have.  I clearly stated that I do not have a firm viewpoint if the universe had a beginning or not.  I have not attempted to refute Young Robert’s argument that the universe had a beginning.  However, I  did clearly point out that Young Robert DOES have a preconceived notion that the universe did have a beginning.  Therefore, since Young Robert claims this series of articles is a “cross examination” of  Christianity, I pointed out that I view this particular article as being disingenuous re. the stated purpose of the series of articles.  Young Robert is not “cross examining” the cosmological argument in this article.  He is wholeheartedly broadcasting his endorsement of it.  

            “You seem to be merely grumping about the fact that Bob sees the Cosmological argument as being a valid proof for the existence of some sort of uncreated being, but have yet to counter his argument other than to state your personal belief that you “do not know” if the universe had a beginning or not. How ambiguous of you.”

            I have not attempted to refute the notion that the universe had a beginning, and I will not do so now.  However, I clearly illustrated WHY I believe this particular article is disingenuous re. the supposed purpose of this series of articles.  I have no intention of being ambiguous on this point.

            “You’re bashing Bob for examining an argument and coming to a solid conclusion based on the evidence he believes to be more compelling. He even gave arguments backing up his belief that the universe did, in fact, have a beginning; and you’re simply complaining about it!”

            I merely pointed out that this article is not consistent with the supposed intention of the series of articles (i.e. to “cross examine” Christianity).  The article represents pure apologetics.  If Young Robert wants to change the title of the series to “Young Robert’s Christian Apologetics” going forward, so be it.

            “Do you think that there is some sort of inherent problem with the cosmological argument and that he should stay firmly rooted in your weak “I don’t know” stance (which is really no stance at all), or are you just afraid to admit that he has a point?”

            Am I obligated to stake a stance for or against the argument?  I think not.  I clearly stated that I have no firm opinion for or against the notion that the universe had a beginning.  I think that is a fair (and honest) response.  I did not say that Young Robert made a weak defense of this subject.  I said I believe this article is not consistent with the supposed purpose of the series of articles.
             

            “If his argument is so poor, why not actually give a solid, logical reason as to why you think that your stance is the preferred one?”

            See response above.

            “Okay, sidvicious, now you’re being a bit ridiculous.”

            No, Maureen Kennedy.  Methinks you are being a bit myopic.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            So, to sum up what Sid has said, for the benefit of everyone else:

            1. I don’t know whether the universe had a beginning or not.
            2. Bob shouldn’t claim to know whether the universe had a beginning or not. He should agree with me.
            3. Since Bob concludes in this post that there was a beginning to the universe, he’s an apologist (which Sid means as an insult of sorts). 4. Bob is being disingenuous with his audience, and I don’t like the title of his series.

            Keywords/trigger words: disingenuous, preconceived, apologist, young

            If anyone would like to comment on the substance of the post, please do so in a new thread below. If you would like to answer Sid’s attacks on the series itself, feel free to answer on this thread.

            Thanks for the comments, Sid.

          • Anonymous

            “1. I don’t know whether the universe had a beginning or not.”

            Agree 100%.  If you sift through other threads in this series, you will note that I have never refuted the notion that the universe had a beginning.  I have been consistent in my position that I did not know one way or the other.  That is an honest response.  It should also be acceptable to anyone who is honest.  I did not attack the CONTENT of your argument in this article.  I said the article is an example of your being disingenuous re. the supposed purpose of the series of articles.

            “2. Bob shouldn’t claim to know whether the universe had a beginning or not.  He should agree with me.”

            This is utterly ridiculous and dishonest on your part, Young Robert.

            “3. Since Bob concludes in this post that there was a beginning to the universe, he’s an apologist (which Sid means as an insult of sorts).”

            I stated on earlier threads that I thought you were an apologist.  I never said being an apologist was a bad thing.  I encouraged you to preach what you believe so long as you were being genuine.  Based upon my observations, however, I believe you are dishonest.

            “4. Bob is being disingenuous with his audience, and I don’t like the title of his series.”

            Agree 100%.

            “So, to sum up what Sid has said, for the benefit of everyone else:”

            Here is my reply to you on that score:

            Exodus 20:16New International Version (NIV)
            (16) “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

          • Anonymous

            “I stated on earlier threads that I thought you were an apologist. I never said being an apologist was a bad thing. I encouraged you to preach what you believe so long as you were being genuine.” – sidvicious

            BTW, I posted the following comment on your article entitled: Cross Examination: Is the Universe Eternal?  This was approximately 4 months ago:

            ” You are a Christian apologist. You believe you were commissioned by God to preach the Gospel to all the Earth. If you truly believe that, then go to it, man! Just please keep your preaching off the exchristian.net website. We have heard it before.”

            Sounds like sidvicious is being consistent and HONEST, doesn’t it???

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Sidonie, I agree that you’re being consistent, as you’ve made the accusation many times.  However, I disagree with you that you’re being honest.  You say that I’m misleading my audience.  I am not.

            I am a Christian, so I’m not endeavoring in this series to disprove Christianity.  As I’ve stated MANY TIMES, I am examining my own faith.  This is a faith that I currently hold.

            Furthermore, you state that I am a Christian apologist.  I’ve conceded this in at least one other post, for the sake of argument.  What I’m unclear about is why you insist upon saying this in every post that I do.  Let me ask you some direct questions, so get to the bottom of the issue:

            1. Do you believe that Christian apologists do not have good arguments?
            2. Do you believe that Christian apologists are incapable of scientific inquiry?
            3. Do you believe that Christian apologists are unable to follow the evidence to its conclusion?
            4. Do you believe that Christian apologists are unable to change their minds?
            5. Do you believe that Christian apologists are unable to think philosophically?

            I think that your calling me a “Christian apologist” is an ad hominem attack, and it means, “Since this guy is a Christian apologist, you can’t believe anything he says, or he can’t put together a coherant argument.”

            Calling me a “Christian apologist” does nothing to further the debate about whether my arguments are true or false.  You do it only to throw mud on me, to diminish me as a debater.

            If you can show some good reason why this is a relevant argument to make, then I will let you continue to make this argument on each post.  However, if you cannot, I will begin to delete comments related to this string from future posts.  In my opinion, they don’t add anything to the conversation.

          • Anonymous

            ” However, I disagree with you that you’re being honest.”

            I have never attempted to deceive you or anyone I have engaged on this website from day one. 

            “I am a Christian, so I’m not endeavoring in this series to disprove Christianity. As I’ve stated MANY TIMES, I am examining my own faith. This is a faith that I currently hold.”

            I never said you were attempting to disprove Christianity.  I have not called upon you to do that.  However, I do not view this article as a true “cross-examination”.  I perceive this article to be a lecture re. WHY you already believed what you wrote about.

            “1. Do you believe that Christian apologists do not have good arguments?”

            William Lane Craig is a highly skilled debater.  Some of his arguments appear more convincing than others. 

            “2. Do you believe that Christian apologists are incapable of scientific inquiry?”

            If they are truly open-minded to accepting data that may not support their preconceived bias, I would say they are capable of scientific inquiry.

            “3. Do you believe that Christian apologists are unable to follow the evidence to its conclusion?”

            If they are truly open-minded to accepting data that may not support their preconceived bias, I would say they are capable of following evidence to its conclusion.

            “4. Do you believe that Christian apologists are unable to change their minds?”

            Of course not.  I changed my mind.  I was every bit as dogmatic as you appear to be.  After further contemplation and critical review, I could no longer believe based upon the evidence I was presented.  Deconverting was perhaps the most traumatic experience of my life.

            “5. Do you believe that Christian apologists are unable to think philosophically?”

            That is a silly question.

            “I think that your calling me a “Christian apologist” is an ad hominem attack, and it means, “Since this guy is a Christian apologist, you can’t believe anything he says, or he can’t put together a coherant argument.””

            You should not think that.  I think you are intelligent and devout.  What I DO NOT believe is that you are sincerely “cross-examining” Christianity in this series of articles.  Based upon your articles and your defense of every subject upon which you have been challenged, I do not think it is conceivable that you are honestly prepared to consider abandoning your faith.  Based upon the statement of doctrine of your own church, you SHOULD be rejoicing in the assurance of your own salvation.

             
            “Calling me a “Christian apologist” does nothing to further the debate about whether my arguments are true or false. You do it only to throw mud on me, to diminish me as a debater.”

            If you take offense to the description, I will stop using it here.  It was not intended to be an insult.  When I was a Christian apologist, I took great pride in being called that.

          • Anonymous

            I’ve been out of town,  but I can see it’s business as usual, here. 

            Let’s begin:

            “I am a Christian, so I’m not endeavoring in this series to disprove Christianity.” ~ R.  Ewoldt

            If that’s not redundant, then nothing is.

            “As I’ve stated MANY TIMES, I am examining my own faith. This is a faith that I currently hold.” ~ R. Ewoldt

            To set out to “disprove” a belief held on “faith” defeats the whole purpose of “faith”. 

            “The cosmological argument arises out of a human curiosity as to why there is something rather than nothing.” ~ R. Ewoldt

            Except that we have zero reason to believe that there’d be “nothing”, as opposed to something. I mean, what does it even mean to say, “nothing exists”???

            So, this question is nonsensical. It’s like asking, “Hey, what’s North of the North Pole!?!?”.

            Robert Ewoldt, to Sid: I think that your calling me a ‘Christian apologist’ is an ad hominem attack[…]”

            Let’s suppose that it’s “ad hominem”. Okay? Done.

            Now, that concession doesn’t necessarily mean the charge isn’t true. If you are in fact a Christian apologist, then one can reasonably conclude that you HAVE NO DOUBTS that you are right, in which case, one can reasonably conclude that you have no reason to “Cross Examine” what you no doubt believe is true. Personally, I believe this whole “Cross Examination” is smoke and mirrors.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            You concede that this argument is ad hominem. Thanks. It does nothing to disprove the argument, even if it’s true. This is why it’s not fruitful to engage in ad hominem arguments. When I myself have engaged in them, I’ve almost immediately regretted it, because it does nothing to bolster any counter-argument, and can in fact detract from my counter-argument.

            You cannot reasonably say that I have no doubts, though you can assert it, which you have on multiple occasions.

            Since there is no reason in this accusation, I’m going to start deleting comments that pertain to this topic. Please limit your comments to the posts that I write, instead of on ad hominem attacks.

          • Anonymous

            “You concede that this argument is ad hominem. Thanks.”

            I did no such thing. Please re-read what I said.

            “When I myself have engaged in them, I’ve almost immediately regretted it, because it does nothing to bolster any counter-argument, and can in fact detract from my counter-argument.”

            The statement, “You’re a dumb-ass Christian apologist” definitely doesn’t bolster the attacker’s position. And while the statement, “You’re a Christian apologist”, might not bolster anyone’s position, it is not entirely useless, nor is it necessarily meant pejoratively.  Again, if in fact you are an apologist, then certain conclusions about motives can be reasonably drawn. Nothing less; nothing more.

            “You cannot reasonably say that I have no doubts[…]

            If, in your written words,  you have given no indication of having doubt – but in fact, revealed quite the opposite by having a “defense” for every objection raised –  then I’m sorry, but yes, I can reasonably conclude that you have no doubt. In my experience, people who have honest doubt and who reveal that doubt in their words, are people who actually listen as objectively as possible to both sides. You have proven time and time again that you either, a) are a horrible reader, or b) refuse to listen to what’s being said to you. A perfect example is above, where you say…..”You concede that this, [yadda, yadda]” . It is crystal clear to me that you prefer to look for the “Ah-HAH!” moments, than to admit that you could be wrong.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            “Let’s suppose that it’s ‘ad hominem.’ Okay? Done. Now, that concession doesn’t necessarily mean the charge isn’t true.”

          • Anonymous

            “Let’s suppose that it’s ‘ad hominem’.”

            Are you telling me with a straight face that you don’t see the difference between the following two statements…

            1 Let’s suppose that aliens are visiting earth.

            2 Aliens are visiting earth

            ?

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Are you telling me with a straight face that your statements are NOT ad hominem, i.e. an attack against the man, rather than the argument?

          • Anonymous

            “Are you telling me with a straight face that your statements are NOT ad hominem, i.e. an attack against the man, rather than the argument?” ~ R. Ewoldt

            Good grief. Not much has change, I see. 

            Okay, the ORIGINAL charge was against SID, was it not?!?!?!

             Let’s review…..

            Robert Ewoldt, to SID VICIOUS….Calling me a “Christian apologist” does nothing to further the debate about whether my arguments are true or false

            Okay, so why is it all of the sudden MY statements that are “ad hominem”?????

            In any case, to answer your question, NO, calling you a “Christian apologist” is not necessarily an “attack against the man”. Again, the charge might actually be true.  

            And was that a “yes”, that you see the difference between the two statements I provided?

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Are you saying that, if an ad hominem attack is “true,” then it ceases to be ad hominem?

          • Anonymous

            Notice, I keep answering your each and every question, despite that you do not do the same. 

            “Are you saying that, if an ad hominem attack is ‘true’, then it ceases to be ad hominem?”

            It depends on the situation.  For example, you might say X is true because of Y and Z.  John Doe comes along and says, “It is so clear that you’re a Christian apologist!”. True, John Doe doesn’t attack Y or Z. Notwithstanding, he hasn’t attacked you, either, if in fact a Christian apologist is precisely what you are. 

          • Anonymous

            Young Robert,

            I told you that I was not attempting to demean you by calling you a Christian apologist.  I also said I would stop using the term on this forum if you were offended by it.  Meanwhile, grow some thicker skin and please stop acting like your feelings are hurt.  I once took great pride in being called a Christian apologist and a zealot and a moralist.  I believed I was doing what God commissioned me to do… just like you believe that about yourself today. 

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Welcome back, by the way. I’ve missed you while you were gone. Traveling for business?

          • Anonymous

            I’m not convinced you’ve missed me, but in any case, yes, business.

          • Anonymous

            I am glad you are back.

            Welcome back!

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I missed you in the sense that there were several times since the post was published when I thought, “I wonder when Boom will weigh in.”

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Sid, you need to support your argument that I’m being disingenuous in order for it to be valid.  Please examine my introduction to the series and my series page and tell me where this post doesn’t fall under either (a) the scope of the series or (b) the stated purpose of the series.

            If you cannot tell me how specifically I’ve been disingenuous or dishonest to my readers, I will expect a retraction of your accusation.

            Some definitions to guide your search:

            Disingenuous: “not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does”

            Dishonest: “Intended to mislead or cheat” or “behaving or prone to behave in an untrustworthy or fraudulent way”

          • Anonymous

            Okay, Young Robert.  Let us start with some basics:

            If you will allow Wikipedia’s definition of “cross-examination”, this is what it offers:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-examination

            “In law, cross-examination is the interrogation of a witness called by one’s opponent.”

            This is the general concept I maintain re. what it means to “cross-examine” something.  To me, it means to examine something critically for the purpose of unearthing pertinent evidence and allowing a jury (or a judge) to draw a logical conclusion.  You entitled this series of articles as a “Cross Examination” of Christianity.  To me, that would entail your looking at arguments on both sides of the issue, weighing the evidence, and drawing a logical conclusion.  We should be on the same page so far.

            This is how I interpreted your article re. the cosmological argument:

            1.  Here is a summary of the cosmological argument
            2.  Here is a defense of the cosmological argument
            3.  Here is a common objection (i.e. re. special pleading which you promptly strike down)
            4. Here is input from Richard Dawkins who does not refute the cosmological argument
            5. In summary, you matter-of-factly state that there was indeed a First Cause 

            Young Robert, it is patently obvious you believed in the cosmological argument BEFORE you typed one keystoke of this specific article.  The only purpose of this specific article I can construe is that you want to convince your audience (and perhaps further convince yourself) that your point of view was correct all along.  Therefore, I logically conclude that you are not “cross-examining” the cosmological argument in this article.  You were merely posting reasons WHY you already believed what you believed re. this subject.  Therefore, I consider the title of this series to be misleading and disingenuous.  This particular article appears to me to be a SERMON and not a cross-examination.  Kindly change the name of this series of articles to Bob Ewoldt’s Apologetics and I will not raise the issue of apologetics again.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            So if you can’t debate the substance of the thread, debate the title…what is next, you going to find his old myspace page? 

          • Anonymous

            This particular thread was nothing more than a rehash of a position that Young Robert enthusiastically endorsed in his sermon.  I clearly stated that I had no position on the particular topic.

            Now, kindly run along and finish reading your comic books.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Comic books…I dont have an app for that.  Drink your prune juice, change your Depends, and go back to watching “The Price is Right”.

          • Anonymous

            Hopefully they will devise more apps that promote the increase of knowledge and wisdom within undereducated kids.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            That would be nice for those “kids” who are undereducated…How was the “showcase showdown” ???

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Outstanding!

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Bob, I was looking forward to you covering this topic and discussing it specifically, however seeing as you and Maureen have owned this debate I will just say thanks for the post.  Well articulated…logical, great job.

          • Anonymous

            There hasn’t been any debate on the cosmological argument here.  All Young Robert did was give a sermonette re. the same position that William Lane Craig takes.  Gee, that is impressive… (sarcasm noted).

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KBY52OYW6XWECTCG3BUNJW6BU4 Broc

            So you don’t find it impressive when Bob takes the same position as William Craig? Tell me, are you just as unimpressed with yourself when you regurgitate the same positions as Stephen Hawking? 

          • Anonymous

            I didn’t create a public blog and publish an article under the guise of “cross-examining” a particular subject when I had predetermined that my position was correct re. that subject before publishing the article.  Young Robert did.  I have said repeatedly that I am not attacking the content of this article.  However, I do find it disingenuous to call it a “cross-examination” of the cosmological argument.  

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            It seems your accusation of Bob being “disingenuous” has been asked and answered by Bob:
             
            …“Sid, you need to support your argument that I’m being disingenuous in order for it to be valid.  Please examine my introduction to the series and my series page and tell me where this post doesn’t fall under either (a) the scope of the series or (b) the stated purpose of the series.  If you cannot tell me how specifically I’ve been disingenuous or dishonest to my readers, I will expect a retraction of your accusation”…
             
            However instead of re-reading the “introduction to the series” and “re-reading the series page”, then addressing those standards which Bob suggested, you ignored this comment and attempted to reframe the debate around your own standards and ideas.  I will echo what Bob said again in hopes that maybe repetition will get a response…
             
              “If you cannot tell me how specifically I’ve been disingenuous or dishonest to my readers, I will expect a retraction of your accusation”…

          • Anonymous

            I have clearly and repeatedly explained why I believe Young Robert has been disingenuous.  Your failure to grasp that point is not a reflection of my inability to convey that point.  boomSLANG comprehends my point just fine.  It is patently obvious that he shares my opinion re. this series of articles.  We believe it is a charade.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            No, I believe you’ve clearly stated your position on this issue, Sidonie, but I think that Broc’s observation is valid. I stated my reasons for doing this series, and you’ve redefined/reframed the purpose of the series so that you can indeed call me disingenuous. Any reasonable person who reads the series introduction and then the series page would not come to the same conclusion that you have.

          • Anonymous

            “I stated my reasons for doing this series, and you’ve redefined/reframed the purpose of the series so that you can indeed call me disingenuous.” – YR

            This is patently false.  I see no personal advantage to me by following that course of action.  I OPENLY encouraged you some four (4) months ago on one of your threads to pursue your goal of evangelization so long as you were sincere and you kept it off our forum (i.e. ex-christian.net website).  

            I have read every single article you have written during this series.  I have observed your behavior every single time someone challenged you on an issue.  The logical conclusion that I and boom come to is that you are not really “cross-examining” your faith.  I would humbly suggest you change the title of this series.

            “Any reasonable person who reads the series introduction and then the series page would not come to the same conclusion that you have.” – YR

            I consider boomSLANG to be reasonable, and I am confident he agrees with me.  He has agreed with me for quite some time.

          • Anonymous

            “however seeing as you and Maureen have owned this debate[….]” ~ Broc 

            This is as comical as it is unconvincing. How, pray-tell, have they “owned” the “debate”???? Please explain in detail.

          • Maureen Kennedy

            Well said, Bob!

          • Anonymous

            Au contraire, ma sœur!  ;->

          • Anonymous

            “If his argument is so poor, why not actually give a solid, logical 
            reason as to why you think that your stance is the preferred one?”
            ~ Maureen

            I don’t know about the “preferred” stance, but the more honest one is, yes, “I don’t know”, since no one was present at this supposed “first cause”. IOW, it is ultimately an argument of induction. The building blocks of the universe may have very well always existed in one form or another. And if one cannot wrap his or her mind around that, then consider that we have evidence that something can, and does, “come from nothing”. See zero-point energy and vacuum fluctuations.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            boom, your “creation from nothing” is not actually creation from nothing, but rather a re-definition of “nothing.” Physicists say these are “like” creating something from nothing, but not actually creating something from nothing, because something actually exists. Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-point_energy. While it’s the lowest possible energy known, it is not devoid of energy.

            So, while physicists use the word “nothing” to explain this concept to the popular masses, it’s not actually “nothing” in a technical sense ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing#Physics). So, for you to say that things can be created out of nothing is a misuse of the word.

          • Anonymous

            Cherry picking which comments to address, are we? As I’m sure you noticed, the first part of my comment addressed which “stance” is more honest. And I reiterate: If not you, nor I, nor anyone else, was present at the supposed beginning of the universe – to include, the beginning of time, itself – then the one and ONLY honest answer to the question of the cause of the universe(if any), is, I. do. not. know. I commented on zero point energy to illustrate that “things” can, and do, come into existence from the lowest possible energy, unguided. If you’d like to throw that afterthought out, fine—throw it out. However, your calling this into question is ultimately a red herring. Technically, if you’d like to classify the lowest possible “energy” as a “thing”, you can do so. However, if energy can neither be created nor destroyed, then we can conclude that that lowest possible energy always existed; no “first cause” necessary.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Just a couple of questions to clarify (I don’t want to assume):

            1. Are you saying that only those that are present at an event can know what happened at that event?
            2. Are you saying that we cannot know anything by induction or inference?

          • Anonymous

            1 “know what happened” with absolute certainty? Yes, that’s what I’m saying.

            2 No, that’s not what I’m saying.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            So your problem is not with the cosmological argument, per se, but with the fact that you think that there’s no evidence to support that the universe had a beginning (since no one was actually there)? So your objection would be with the second premise of the argument?

          • Anonymous

            “You seem to be merely grumping about the fact that Bob sees the Cosmological argument as being a valid proof for the existence of some sort of uncreated being”

            Let’s not mince words. “Bob” sees said argument as a “valid proof” for none other than the Christian deity, “Yahweh”. There is nothing ambiguous about it..i.e.. “some sort of [etc]”. Moreover, “Bob”, and creationists like him – WLC, included – merely define their beloved “Creator” as the only “being” who exists uncreated, as seen here in bold….

            Since God is an infinite, eternal being, and does not meet the criteria of premise #1, this is not a case of special pleading.”

            And that is, YES, special pleading. All other beings need a “cause”; they cannot exist uncaused. Ah, but “God” can exist uncaused, because, well, because “God” fits the “creator” requirement, which of course, that is needed to make the argument work in the first place. 

            “Do you think that there is some sort of inherent problem with the cosmological argument and that he should stay firmly rooted in your weak ‘I don’t know’ stance (which is really no stance at all)[…]”

            The inherent problem is the special pleading involved. As for the second half of the question, isn’t it better to be honest, even if taking the stance, “Gee, I don’t know”,  is viewed as weaker than picking a definitive stance? Personally, I believe so.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Boom, if you read the post carefully, I specifically stated that the conclusion of this argument does NOT lead to the God of the Bible.

            Secondly, the First Cause that this argument leads to is an infinite cause which does not fall under Premise #1 of the argument. Therefore, it is not a special pleading to say that this First Cause is uncaused.

          • Anonymous

            “I specifically stated that the conclusion of this argument does NOT lead to the God of the Bible.”

            Is that what you would PRETEND to have us believe… that you are honestly open to the possibility that some entity other than YHWH may have created the universe?  Really?

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Baby steps Sid…don’t jump ahead,  stay on topic.

          • Anonymous

            Broc,

            You are not remotely qualified to act as moderator on this forum. Kindly let Young Robert speak for himself.

          • Anonymous

            Guess what?…. it doesn’t need to “lead to the God of the Bible”; it is implicit that you believe is does lead that way. Connecting dots doesn’t take any great skills. 

            Additionally, if you’re arguing that this supposed “First Cause” is none other than “God”(which I suspect you are, since you tip your cards and capitalize both words), and if “God” isn’t just nature, but a personal BEING, and if your argument is that ALL beings need a “cause”, then once more, YES, you are special pleading. I cannot make it any clearer.

          • Anonymous

            “I cannot make it any clearer.”

            It is crystal clear.  Let those that have ears hear and those with eyes see and those with brain cells comprehend…

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

    Occupy Wall-Street is only a month old and already an international movement/the Libya conflict over/Obama signals Iraq War over/Republican Candidate Herman Cain somehow makes Pro-choice arguement without knowing it/Rick Perry hints at “birther” issue….Remember when you used to dicuss politics??? LOL

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Broc, thanks for the perspective.  Actually, I was thinking about writing about the Occupy Wall Street movement, and I just recently finished a book on economics that I need to write a review about.

  • Anonymous

    “Boom, if you read the post carefully, I specifically stated that the conclusion of this argument does NOT lead to the God of the Bible.”

    Is that what you would PRETEND to have us believe… that you are open to the real possibility that some entity other that YHWH created the universe?  Really?

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Yes, I am, Sid.  Right now, there is a wide gap between my beliefs and my knowledge (which was the reason for my writing the post on “Faith and Belief.”)  My unproven beliefs I would categorize under “faith,” as you would, I think.  But that doesn’t mean that I’m not trying to close the gap between faith and knowledge.

  • Anonymous

    In a nutshell, my “problem” is with people who claim to know things with absolute certainly. That the universe was created by a self-existing, invisible, conscious being is one such thing. In fact, the evidence against this hypothesis is that things like “creating”, contemplating, acting, etc., are temporal activities..i.e..they require time. Thus, this whole notion that consciousness existed when nothing else existed,  including time, itself,  is nonsensical and illogical. 

    • Anonymous

      Verbatim from Grace Church of DuPage’s Doctrinal Statement:

      ————————
      We teach that election is the act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, He
      chose in Christ those whom He graciously regenerates, saves, and sanctifies (Romans
      8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Peter 1:1-2).

      We teach that all the redeemed, once, saved are kept by God’s power and are thussecure in Christ forever (John 5:24; 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Romans 5:9-10; 8:1, 31-39; 1Corinthians 1:4-8; Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 7:25; 13:5; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24).

      We teach that it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvationthrough the testimony of God’s Word, which, however, clearly forbids the use ofChristian liberty as an occasion for sinful living and carnality (Romans 6:15-22; 13:13-14;Galatians 5:13,25-26; Titus 2:11-14).
      ————————

      I assume Young Robert believes in these planks of his own church’s doctrinal statement.  As per this excerpt, he should be REJOICING in the assurance of his own salvation.  Instead, he claims to be “cross-examining” Christianity… on a public forum.  Isn’t it remarkable how consistently Young Robert leaps to the DEFENSE of his faith when someone challenges any facet of it on these threads?  He even posted unsolicited message(s) on the ex-christian.net website.  How might this behavior be characterized.  I wonder if this would apply…  

      From wikipedia:

      Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, “speaking in defense”) is the discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of reason. Early Christian writers (c. 120-220) who defended their faith against critics and recommended their faith to outsiders were called apologists.

      • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

        OK, Sid has the last word on this.  If you want to think of me as an apologist, I will accept that mantle (as I have before).  Any more comments in this string of “argument” will be deleted.

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      In order to get around the beginning of the universe, many physicists argue a theory of the “multiverse,” where there are an infinite number of universes, many with their own laws of physics and time.  These universes, then, exist outside of our concept of time and space, and don’t obey our laws of physics.

      Do you think that these other universes are similarly “nonsensical and illogical”?

      • Anonymous

        I don’t think other universes are out of the question. However, where conscious, free beings are concerned, I think the idea that such beings can exist independent of space-time is, yes, illogical.

  • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

    By the way, for anyone who cares, I just made a change to the commenting system.  It won’t allow more than 5 levels of replies to any comment.  This is why, after a few nested comments, you only see the “Like” button, and not the “Reply” button.  This was because I don’t like reading comments that are 3-4 words per line.  I’m sure that some/all of you share my frustration.

    • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

      Suggestion:  It seems 5 levels of replies still leaves plenty of space to work with…maybe 8 replies, so it wont interrupt the flow of the discussion too much?

    • Anonymous

      In my humble opinion, the structure of the comments section was better before you made this adjustment.  I took a walk through the comments re. the previous article (over 300 comments).  This adjustment has made it much more difficult to follow the specific debates that arose.  Obfuscation?

      • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

        Broc suggested making the level limit more, like 8 levels, instead of 5. Would you agree with that suggestion?

        • Anonymous

          Yes.  8 levels sounds like an improvement over 5 levels.  Thanks.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I’ve changed it to 8 levels instead of 5.

          • Anonymous

            Thank you.  It looks better with 8 levels.

  • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

    boom, you say above, “Guess what?…. it doesn’t need to “lead to the God of the Bible”; it is implicit that you believe is does lead that way. Connecting dots doesn’t take any great skills.”

    I think that I said this in reply to Sid somewhere else in this thread… yes, I believe that this leads to the God of the Bible, but I haven’t yet connected the dots with evidence, so that conclusion remains faith.

    I agree with you that this argument does not prove that the cause of the universe is not the God of the Bible, even though that’s what I believe.  I fully concede that.

    You’re jumping to conclusions that I haven’t yet concluded.  So far, all I’ve done is to say that the universe had a cause, and I haven’t yet asserted that this cause is the God of the Bible, even in my mind.  I understand the difference between faith and knowledge, as I suspect you do.

    I will try to connect the dots there intellectually and with evidence, but if I don’t there are two options: (a) continue to believe it in faith, or (b) abandon that belief.

    • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

      Unfortunately, very little of the discussion has been focused on the actual subject matter which Bob has laid out.  Boomslang and Bob have started some discussion regarding “something from nothing” and “multiverse theory” (which I found very interesting) however those discussions quickly jumped out of, what I view this blog post’s intended focus to be (sorry if I am wrong about that Bob), and it jumped to how this subject matter affects other topics due to people jumping to conclusions (correct or not):
      Sid:  “Is that what you would PRETEND to have us believe… that you are honestly open to the possibility that some entity other than YHWH may have created the universe?  Really?”
       
      Boom: “Let’s not mince words. “Bob” sees said argument as a “valid proof” for none other than the Christian deity, “Yahweh”. There is nothing ambiguous about it..i.e.. “some sort of [etc]”. Moreover, “Bob”, and creationists like him – WLC, included – merely define their beloved “Creator” as the only “being” who exists uncreated, as seen here in bold….it doesn’t need to “lead to the God of the Bible”; it is implicit that you believe is does lead that way. Connecting dots doesn’t take any great skills. “
       
      Despite Bob being repeatedly clear on this point that this post does NOT prove a biblical creator, Sid and Boom continue to want to pursue that avenue of debate instead of the subject at hand. 
       
      Bob: “I agree with you that this argument does not prove that the cause of the universe is not the God of the Bible, even though that’s what I believe.  I fully concede that. You’re jumping to conclusions that I haven’t yet concluded.  So far, all I’ve done is to say that the universe had a cause, and I haven’t yet asserted that this cause is the God of the Bible, even in my mind.  I understand the difference between faith and knowledge, as I suspect you do.
       
      This is the reason I asked Sid to take “baby steps and not jump ahead”.  Bob I hope that I don’t speak out of turn however from my perspective I view each new post in this series as a building block, no single post or thread will provide a definitive or final word of god’s existence or not however through each thread Bob is attempting to gather “building blocks” which at the end when finished may create a rather complete work.  So discuss the topic at hand, debate the merits however try to stay inside the scope and focus of the discussion topic. 
       

      • Anonymous

        Please note that when I said……

        “Let’s not mince words. ‘Bob’ sees said argument as a ‘valid proof’ for none other than the Christian deity, ‘Yahweh’.”

        …that this was in response to the following, which was addressed to Sid: 

        You seem to be merely grumping about the fact that Bob sees the Cosmological argument as being a valid proof for the existence of some sort of uncreated being, but have yet to counter his argument other than to state your personal belief that you “do not know” if the universe had a beginning or not. How ambiguous of you. ~ Maureen Kennedy

        And I reiterate, “Bob” doesn’t just believe that the universe was brought into existence by “some sort of uncreated being”. No, “Bob” believes that a very specific “being” brought the universe into existence, namely, the Christian biblegod, “Yahweh”. If “Bob” doesn’t view the Cosmological argument as proof of what he believes? Fine.  He still believes that there is a SPECIFIC god involved here, whereas, Ms. Kennedy portrays it ambiguously…i.e..”some sort of”[etc], and then she turns around and takes a jab at Sid for being “ambiguous”. Par for the course?

        As far as follow-up/staying on topic, etc. , Mr. Ewoldt is notorious for not following-up. He asks questions; I answer them, then it fizzles out. If you’d like examples, I’ll be happy to provide some.

        • Anonymous

          “Ms. Kennedy portrays it ambiguously…i.e..”some sort of”[etc], and then she turns around and takes a jab at Sid for being “ambiguous”. Par for the course?”

          Yes, it is.  It is interesting that Ms. Kennedy and Broc and Bob didn’t seem to want to accept “I don’t know” as an answer despite it being the honest answer.  I was clear from the beginning that my issue was not with the content of this article.  I objected to the title of the series.  I viewed this specific article as an egregious example of why I object to the title of the series.  

          “Mr. Ewoldt is notorious for not following-up. He asks questions; I answer them, then it fizzles out.”

          Yes, he does.  

          Bob’s method of operation reminds me of a frequent guest we once had on the ex-christian.net website.  I seem to remember the guy was an Anglican Pastor in the UK.  He would solicit feedback   on some weighty topics that are similar to the topics Bob covers.  The guy later stated that he was compiling our arguments re. each specific issue so he could develop counter-arguments in the hopes of proselytizing new sheep whilst keeping the existing flock from leaving the fold.  That would be fine with me if that is one of Bob’s goals.  I think the objective (i.e. unbiased) observers here will draw logical conclusions from these exchanges.  I do wish Bob would restore the comments section back to how it was formatted yesterday.  The new format makes it more difficult to follow the path of communication on some of the contentious issues that produced numerous exchanges.  

          • Anonymous

            “Yes, it is.  It is interesting that Ms. Kennedy and Broc and Bob didn’t seem to want to accept ‘I don’t know’ as an answer despite it being the honest answer.”

            Yes, it would seem that some would prefer to take a definitive, less than honest, “strong” stance, versus an honest stance of uncertainty, a stance that they’d no doubt call “weak”.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Boom, I have not taken issue with either one of you taking the position of uncertainty in regards to the issue of how the universe began.  Actually, the exchanges which I have found most interesting were the discussions you and Bob were having in regards to “something from nothing”, because logically and scientifically nothing can be created from a true point of nothing.  Which means something is eternal.  HOWEVER, what I have taken issue with is…
             
            1.)    Sid’s unrelated rants about the title of the series in which he attempts to reframe the title’s meaning to his own standards in order to prove a point, despite the title being completely within the purpose and context of what the author (Bob) has laid out as the purpose and goals for his blog series. 
             
            Sid: “…I was clear from the beginning that my issue was not with the content of this article.  I objected to the title of the series.  I viewed this specific article as an egregious example of why I object to the title of the series…”
             
            2.) The jumping to conclusions which fall outside of the focus of this discussion.  Both Boom and Sid have spent time discussing the impact of the Cosmological Argument in regards to conclusions which Bob has not yet posted.     
            Boom: “…And I reiterate, “Bob” doesn’t just believe that the universe was brought into existence by “some sort of uncreated being”. No, “Bob” believes that a very specific “being” brought the universe into existence…”
             
            Sid: “…We are both aware that the cosmological argument does not prove a biblical creator.  What we wanted Bob to confirm is that he does believe YHWH is the creator of the universe.  Bob has confirmed that belief….”
             
            Bob in the original post and his comments, has made it abundantly clear that the cosmological argument DOES NOT prove creation in terms of the biblical god, however Boom and Sid continue to pursue a discussion of future conclusions which are not expressed in this thread.  I understand that you can see where the train is heading but we aren’t there yet, so please continue to debate alternate theories of how the universe began or how the Cosmological Argument may be invalid but stay of point. 

          • Anonymous

            “1.)  Sid’s unrelated rants about the title of the series in which he attempts to reframe the title’s meaning to his own standards in order to prove a point, despite the title being completely within the purpose and context of what the author (Bob) has laid out as the purpose and goals for his blog series. ”

            This is absolute bollocks, and this patently false claim is evidence of dishonesty.  I see no benefit to myself by attempting to falsely characterize Bob re. his true intentions for publishing this series of articles.  I OPENLY encouraged Bob to evangelize others as he felt led to do… so long as he kept it off the ex-christian.net website which specifically prohibits that activity.

            You and Bob apparently don’t share our comprehension of what it means to “cross-examine” a subject.  I have long taken the position that this series appears to me to be a charade.  boomSLANG has made the same observation.  These conclusions were drawn after repeated observations of Bob’s consistent behavior. I felt that this particular article was an egregious case.  If Bob feels affronted by this assertion, he has the right to ban either (or both) us from this forum.  However, if Bob does that, my guess is the active participation here amongst the community of “skeptics” will be greatly reduced.  Aside from our participation, these articles have not generated much on-line discussion in the comments sections of the articles.

            “2.) The jumping to conclusions which fall outside of the focus of this discussion. Both Boom and Sid have spent time discussing the impact of the Cosmological Argument in regards to conclusions which Bob has not yet posted.”

            Yes, Bob has posted what we believed to be true.  Bob believes YHWH is the creator of the universe, and he has recently stated this. 

            Again, Broc, we do not need your services as moderator on this forum.  I, for one, believe this forum was better without your interjections.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Thank you for proving my point Sid by posting yet another comment that does not address anything regarding the original post. 

          • Anonymous

            “Thank you for proving my point…”

            I did not prove any point made by you.  I directly refuted both of the claims that you made in the previous post.

            Broc, I believe sound reasoning and logic appear to wasted upon you.  I really wish you would help improve this forum by abstaining from interjecting your nonsense.

          • Anonymous

            “Boom, I have not taken issue with either one of you taking the position of uncertainty in regards to the issue of how the universe began.” ~ Broc

            Well, that’s good, since it’s the only honest position, after all.

            “[…]  logically and scientifically nothing can be created from a true point of nothing.” ~ Broc

            Really? Really? Don’t you make an exception for that little rule when/if you posit that a “God” (illogically?) created an entire universe “from a true point of nothing”??? This is precisely what I mean by special pleading. Yes, creationists cannot conceive of the basic building blocks of the universe, or energy at its lowest level, being uncaused and self-existent. But oddly, they have zero problem conceiving of what would presumably be the most complex being to ever exist, being uncaused and self-existent.  I see inconsistency.

            As for your point “2”, I’ll say it again: When I said that, it was in response to another poster’s comment. Had said poster never said what she said, I’d have never said what I said..i.e..the part that you and Mr. Ewoldt think is off topic.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            It’s entirely consistent to say that, based upon the scientific evidence, there must have been an uncaused, eternal cause of the universe that lies outside the laws of nature (since that cause created the laws of nature). If the evidence brings us to the conclusion that there must have been a supernatural cause of the universe, then that’s consistent with our philosophical viewpoint. Only in the naturalistic philosophy is this view inconsistent.

            However, it’s inconsistent to say that, on the one hand, only the natural can happen (i.e. everything must follow the laws of nature), but then to say, on the other hand, that in the case of universes, something can be created from nothing. The person who believes in naturalism (i.e. everything must follow the laws of nature) cannot believe that something arises from nothing, because that would go contrary to their worldview. In the naturalistic worldview, nothing can come from nothing… not universes, not God, not anything. Nothing can be eternal. Nothing can be self-existent. Even when the evidence would suggest otherwise.

          • Anonymous

            “It’s entirely consistent to say that, based upon the scientific evidence, there must have been an uncaused, eternal cause of the universe that lies outside the laws of nature” ~ R. Ewoldt

            Really? WHAT “scientific evidence” currently says “there must have been” this supposed “uncaused, eternal cause of the universe that lies outside the laws of nature”?!?!? And when you say, “must have been”, is that not just an “under the radar” way of saying that it’s PROVEN?? After all, if it MUST HAVE BEEN, then that doesn’t leave room for error, now does it? No.

            IOW, it appears that you are equivocating with your use of the term “must have been”. 

            “If the evidence brings us to the conclusion that there must have been a supernatural cause of the universe, then that’s consistent with our philosophical viewpoint. Only in the naturalistic philosophy is this view inconsistent.”

            You are conflating the proposition, “must have been a cause”, with the proposition, “must have been a supernatural cause”. If you had OBJECTIVE, scientific, confirmation that the universe had a “supernatural” cause, yes, that would be consistent with your “philosophical viewpoint”. However, you have no such confirmation. If you or someone else had objective, testable/falsifiable, scientific confirmation for some hitherto unknown force in the universe, your or their mug would be plastered on every scientific journal across the globe.

            “The person who believes in naturalism (i.e. everything must follow the laws of nature) cannot believe that something arises from nothing, because that would go contrary to their worldview.”

            False. I don’t believe in the concept of complete nothingness. There is nothing in a naturalistic worldview that says there MUST HAVE BEEN “nothing” before the “Big Bang”. Remember, if energy cannot be created nor destroyed, then energy, at its lowest level, has always existed. No inconsistency, whatsoever.

          • Anonymous

            Bob,

            I would like to thank you for the amusement that this article and this thread has produced.  It seems you don’t grasp it, but we do… and it is really something to behold.

            Bob, you simply have not demonstrated the capacity to be objective.  You leap to the defense of your core set of beliefs every single time your beliefs are challenged… and you do it all under the guise of “cross-examining” your faith.  Wow! 

      • Anonymous

        “Despite Bob being repeatedly clear on this point that this post does NOT prove a biblical creator, Sid and Boom continue to want to pursue that avenue of debate instead of the subject at hand. ”

        We are both aware that the cosmological argument does not prove a biblical creator.  What we wanted Bob to confirm is that he does believe YHWH is the creator of the universe.  Bob has confirmed that belief.

        • Anonymous

          Still eagerly awaiting the “scientific evidence” upon which the following assertion is “based”……

          “there must have been an uncaused, eternal cause of the universe that lies outside the laws of nature” ~ R. Ewoldt

          Well?

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Boom, that’s what this whole post is about. If there is a beginning to the universe, then there must have been a cause for that beginning.

            Please read the paragraph that begins, “In fact, in 2003, Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin…”

          • Anonymous

            “Boom, that’s what this whole post is about. If there is a beginning to the universe, then there must have been a cause for that beginning.”

            This whole post has been about you defending your belief in this subject.  Strange method of “cross-examining” your own beliefs that you employ…  

            BTW, the common objection you cited (and claim you support) re. First Cause not necessarily pointing to Bible God is completely irrelevant re. whether or not the cosmological argument is valid.  You know this to be true.  You have not made any concession to opponents of the cosmological argument by claiming you support this common objection.  Your personal conviction that the cosmological argument is true and DOES indeed point to YHWH is patently obvious to us.

          • Anonymous

            “Strange method of ‘cross-examining’ your own beliefs that you employ… “ ~ Sid

            Precisely. Here’s the glaring problem the way I see it:

            Unless one is experiencing honest doubt that one’s belief-system is true, it would be totally pointless to “cross-examine” that belief-system.  It’s like that show “Cheaters”. One doesn’t hire a company to check out one’s spouse;  one doesn’t go PUBLIC that there might be a problem of some sort, unless one has some doubt or apprehension that their spouse is being true to them. By the same consideration, you don’t publicly “cross examine” your spiritual beliefs unless there is doubt that they are actually true. The confirmation bias would be inescapable.  To my recollection, in this entire series, there hasn’t been one iota of doubt on the part Mr. Ewoldt that he is right. Zip; zero; NADDA. Sure, Mr. Ewoldt plays devil’s advocate and lays out and pays lip-service to “objections” here and there, but notice that for each and every one of those “objections” he has a defense(an apologetic), and I’d wager a large sum of money that if he doesn’t have a “canned” answer to the objections raised, the he goes on a hunt and finds “answers” on apologetic websites.

             This “cross-examination” appears to be a facade. If I’m wrong, perhaps Mr. Ewoldt would like to tell his audience exactly which parts of his “faith” he fears might not be true. Hmmmm. Well, I would recommend that anyone hold his/her breath.

          • Anonymous

            ” If there is a beginning to the universe, then there must have been a cause for that beginning.” ~ R. Ewoldt

            The key word being “if”,  and secondly, you are still conflating “cause for that beginning” > with >  “supernatural cause for that beginning”. That is no small distinction. 

            As for the recommended paragraph, thanks, but, a) nowhere does it say(nor even suggest) that said “cause” of the universe “must have been”(< your words)  a supernatural one, and b) the universe need not have existed infinitely to have existed as the lowest form of infinite energy. IOW, the building blocks of the universe..i.e..energy at its lowest level, might very well have always existed *before* the singularity..i.e..the expansion of said universe(aka Big Bang). 

            Oh, and c) the idea of an infinite, personal being making decisions to create universes and make men out of “dust” is patently absurd, since those things are temporal actions. If space-time didn’t exist before the universe, then the notion of doing things that require time before time existed is nonsensical—-there could BE no “before”, since “before” has temporal implications.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            a) Even if there was the matter (i.e. building blocks) “hanging around” before the Big Bang, there was a catalyst for the Big Bang, which logically is something that is unnatural/supernatural.

            b) Borde/Guth/Vilenkin and Albert Einstein did not prove that the universe began from something that was big enough to hold all the matter in the universe; rather, they proved that the universe began from nothing. It’s hard to say that the universe somehow had all the matter already, because they conclusively proved that wasn’t the case.

            c) Let me put forward a thought experiment for you… let’s suppose that a different scientific theory is true… that there are multiple universes out there, and some have their own physical laws, and their own concept of time. In another universe that has another concept of time, is our concept of time “absurd”? No. You say that decision-making is a temporal activity, but just because our decision-making is made in time doesn’t mean that decision-making is, by definition, temporal. If, before the creation of our universe, there was a different concept of time, wouldn’t that make this particular objection of yours moot?

            c2) Let me put forward another thought experiment for you… now this is apart from the discussion about the universe, and is meant to challenge your idea of God, so it’s a theological argument: if God is omniscient, and knows all things, then why does he have a need to make decisions?

          • Anonymous

            It is remarkable how deep you are digging in your heels to defend this argument under the guise of “cross-examining” it.

            I will say again (since my earlier post apparently disappeared) that your support for the objection that First Cause does not necessarily point to Bible God is a charade.  The cosmological argument is not validated or invalidated based upon pointing to any particular God.  Aside from that, we all know you believe it does point to YHWH.  Perhaps that explains why you are so desperately defending it.

          • Anonymous

            “a) Even if there was the matter (i.e. building blocks) ‘hanging around’ before the Big Bang, there was a catalyst for the Big Bang, which logically is something that is unnatural/supernatural.”

            Non-sequitur, well, unless you’d like to offer evidence beside merely asserting it. Furthermore, the idea of “matter”(or energy at it’s lowest level) just “hanging around” for ever and ever is no more absurd than the idea of an invisible, conscious being just “hanging around” for ever and ever…. oh, and then one day, what?…”He” got bored and decided to create a bazillion galaxies and put life in only one of them!?!?! LOL! Good gravy!

            “b) Borde/Guth/Vilenkin and Albert Einstein did not prove that the universe began from something that was big enough to hold all the matter in the universe; rather, they proved that the universe began from nothing.”

            And once more, having a beginning, and having a beginning out of “nothing”, are two entirely different things. All the matter in the universe condensed into the smallest imaginable dot, is STILL a dot—it is still “something”. Show me some scientific, peer-reviewed literature that says that, a) “nothing” existed before the universe, b) the universe was “caused”, and most of all, c)  that the cause “MUST HAVE BEEN”(< your words) super-duper-natural!

            “If, before the creation of our universe, there was a different concept of time, wouldn’t that make this particular objection of yours moot?”

            If “time” existed “before the (supposed) creation of our universe”, I don’t  give a rat’s hind-quarters which “concept of time” that was—it is is still something, and therefore, you cannot, out of the other side of your mouth, say that there was “nothing” *before* said “creation”. “Space-time” is still SOMETHING.

            ” if God is omniscient, and knows all things, then why does he have a need to make decisions?”

            It’s very simple: Because personal beings need that freedom, otherwise, you’re dealing with an automaton.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            “It’s very simple: Because personal beings need that freedom, otherwise, you’re dealing with an automaton.”

            Either you’re dealing with an automaton, or your dealing with an omniscient being.  You really haven’t answered the question.

          • Anonymous

            Previously, R. Ewoldt:  “if God is omniscient, and knows all things, then why does he have a need to make decisions?”

            Me: It’s very simple: Because personal beings need that freedom, otherwise, you’re dealing with an automaton.

            You: “Either you’re dealing with an automaton, or your dealing with an omniscient being.  You really haven’t answered the question.”

            “God”, if omniscient,  doesn’t have a need to make decisions, since all decisions are known in advance. Notwithstanding, there are glaring implications for that knowledge, and you (should) know what they are.

          • Anonymous

            “Oh, and c) the idea of an infinite, personal being making decisions to create universes and make men out of “dust” is patently absurd, since those things are temporal activities (require time)”

            Good point.  I find it even more absurd that a Supreme Being would create something as unimaginably vast as the universe(s) and then hold a special relationship with one tribe of people (i.e. the Hebrews) vs. other tribes as referenced in the Old Testament manuscripts.  Interesting that ancient Hebrew peoples wrote the Old Testament manuscripts…  

          • Anonymous

            “Interesting that ancient Hebrew peoples wrote the Old Testament manuscripts… “

            Yeah, interesting that said people are/were “God’s chosen people”. But that’s just a coincidence = P