Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Kalam Cosmological Argument

Chipmunk with eyes closed
Not this again!
I already addressed the concept of "Proof by Logic", where I explored this concept of impractical and non-effective type of arguments.

I'm in the mood to expound upon one particular example - the Kalam Cosmological Argument. This line of argumentation, in particular, suffers from a dissolving assumption that renders the argument impotent.

Cosmological arguments pop up on the Atheist Experience to an absurd degree. One caller decided to call into the show four times in a row, each time attempting a cosmological argument, and each time demonstrating a severe inability to learn.

The primary problem with cosmological arguments is something I like to call Erroneous Extrapolation, because I like to make up names for things.

Erroneous Extrapolation

Flat Earth Model versus Round Earth Model
Figure 1: Flat Earth Model versus Round Earth Model
Once upon a time, the vast majority of people believed the world was flat. After all, it just made sense, right? Climb up onto a mountaintop and look around -  there's no curvature. The land just keeps extending outward. This was just common sense.

If one takes this flat Earth model and tries to extrapolate too far out, however, and it starts to fail, until it fails completely.  The surface of the plane and sphere diverge to the point where the flat Earth model just doesn't work anymore.

The flat Earth model was producing contentious points of weirdness. Did the sun emerge out of a hole in the ground in Europe (from Maine's perspective), and then land into another hole in China? If the Earth were round, wouldn't that mean that people would fall off, who were on the other side?

In short, the model was our intuitive "common sense" concept of the world, but it had problems.

Figure 2: Modern Science model versus the Big Bang
Figure 2: Modern Science model versus the Big Bang
We have a similar problem with our understanding of the Big Bang theory. This time, instead of extrapolating a point on the surface of the world, we're extrapolating an event on the timeline, going back to the beginning of the universe.

Modern science's understanding of events stops at about one Planck time (10−43 seconds) after the "event". After that, our current understanding of space and time comes to an end.

This isn't the first time our understanding of time was challenged. Before General Relativity, we thought time was global everywhere in the universe. Nope, different objects travelling at different speeds experience time at different rates, in short.

Those individuals who attempt to use the Kalam Cosmological Argument aren't recognizing the fact that our understanding has limits.  Despite the breakdown of modern science, they're still trying to extrapolate a point beyond that limit.

Stop and think about this for a second. The context surrounding the Big Bang "event" is so strange, so bizarre, that time and space are thrown into a blender and turned into a spacetime smoothie.

How could we possibly be making any kind of assertions about causal events at that point, and it not be pure speculation? How can we discuss causality, that depends on time operating normally, when time was... well, not existing?

Like the breakdown of the flat Earth model (which still does have its uses - we don't build houses on the round Earth model, after all), modern science breaks down, creating bizarre points of contention.

That's why scientists are busy working out newer, better models of science that can effectively understand these scenarios, instead of merely sitting around, speculating from a basis of ignorance, and smugly concluding that one has proven something, void of any kind of empirical confirmation.

When the extrapolation into fringe contexts can be confirmed with empirical data, that's when it'll stop being "erroneous".

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