Kalam translation?

Hello! First of all, I am an atheist. A young atheist though, I haven’t even hit my 20s yet to put it into perspective for you.

And I was debating God with a Christian, and I think I was doing pretty good. Until he brought this argument up, that I could barely follow. What I’m asking for is a translation.

Here’s my argument:
“Is the nature of God dynamic or static? If it’s dynamic, it’s untrue, because it’s
proving the original argument wrong. Which means it cannot be the first cause of the universe. And what if God is not dynamic and essentially does nothing at all? That is also incorrect because then it cannot be the cause of anything at all.”

And he answered…

“By presupposing a dynamic or tensed or (to appropriate McTaggart’s convenient terminology) A-Theory of time, according to which temporal becoming is real, the proponent of the kalam cosmological argument justifiably assumes that the universe’s existing at a first moment of time represents the moment at which the universe came into being. Only if you adopt a static or tenseless or so-called B-Theory of time, according to which temporal becoming is an illusion of human consciousness, will the first moment of the universe’s existing not be the moment at which it comes into being. Thus, the real issue separating the proponent of the kalam cosmological argument and critics of the first premiss is the objectivity of tense and temporal becoming.”

Maybe I should give up? But I don’t want to look like the dumb atheist who failed to answer. Maybe I took too much on? I feel really stupid asking you this, but I need to understand this.

Posted: April 29th 2011

Blaise www

Tell your opponent first that he should write out his arguments, rather than trying to force you to become conversant at a scholarly level with someone else’s arguments before he can debate you. Einstein said it best: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it…”

That said, McTaggart’s paper is irrelevant to the validity of the cosmological argument, because it is based on a false assumption, namely that it assumes that because existence as we understand it relies upon the perception of time, that nothing exists outside of time. We do not know, and potentially cannot know if this is true, so basing arguments upon it is pointless.

Posted: May 7th 2011

See all questions answered by Blaise

donsevers www

I often point out problems with theistic beliefs as a way to encourage believers to face the consequences of their position. Things like 'why does God stand by while kids are tortured?’ Because of this, I’m sympathetic to apologists who work hard to have good reasons for their beliefs.

My understanding of the five main arguments for God, including the Kalam, is that none of them home in on a particular god. EVEN IF they held (and I am not an expert on their philosophical and logical merits), the believer would still have all the heavy lifting of identifying that god ahead of them.

Proving that a 'god’ exists is almost no achievement at all. That god could be loving or evil, powerful or weak, alive or dead, funny or boring. It really matters what his traits are. It is worth noting that there is nothing like a Cosmological Argument for a pacifistic Jesus.

Posted: May 7th 2011

See all questions answered by donsevers

brian thomson www

Being an atheist doesn’t mean that you walk around with a head full of theological and cosmological arguments, ready with an answer to anything and everything that might be thrown at you. Life’s too short for such nonsense. I didn’t need to study philosophy to be an atheist – so don’t let your correspondent try to bamboozle you with bullshit.

I’m guessing your correspondent has some kind of education in philosophy, if he can drop names such as McTaggart with the assumption that you know who he means by that. McTaggart wrote a paper, The Unreality Of Time, in which he suggested that time is an ideal (i.e. abstract) and has no basis in reality. If you want to take this further, I suggest you read McTaggart on his A Series and B Series theories of time, which your Christian correspondent alluded to (and mis-named).

I don’t have an answer to the “kalam” stuff either, but that doesn’t mean I’m dumb: it means that I have a life. From a quick browse on Wikipedia, Kalam refers to an Islamic variation on the Cosmological argument for the existence of a monotheistic god. There are numerous refutations of such arguments e.g. Dawkins summarised the question and answers in The God Delusion.

Posted: May 7th 2011

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Dave Hitt www

Replace every instance of God in the above argument with “Unicorn” and you’ll have your answer.

Tell your friend that debating about the nature of a mythical being is pointless, but if he insists, you’ll be happy to discuss hobbits and elves.

“Thus, the real issue separating the proponent of the kalam cosmological argument and critics of the first premiss is the objectivity of tense and temporal becoming.”

This is what’s known as gibberish. It makes absolutely no sense. Don’t bother with such nonsense.

If your friend persists with such bunk ask him to get you a Nonsense:English/English:Nonsense dictionary.

Posted: May 7th 2011

See all questions answered by Dave Hitt


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