Counter-Argument to the Cosmological Argument

by Jacob Greenleaf

A brief summary
In order to show that the Universe did not begin to exist, I will prove by contradiction. In brief, the argument is as follows: Let S1 = a state of affairs in which the Universe did not exist. Let S2 = a state of affairs in which the Universe exists. 1. The Universe began to exist. 2. S1 and S2 must be distinct. 1. If S1 and S2 are not distinct, then either the Universe always existed or the Universe never existed. 2. The Universe exists, and began to exist. [By 1] 3. Therefore, S1 and S2 are distinct. [Modus Ponens] 3. The Universe cannot exist and not exist at the same state of affairs. [Law of Non-Contradiction] 4. Time cannot be a framework to distinguish between S1 and S2. 1. If the Universe was temporally caused, then time would be ontologically prior to the Universe. 2. Time is ontologically posterior to the Universe. 3. Therefore, the Universe cannot be temporally caused. [Modus Ponens] 5. Atemporal causation cannot be a framework to distinguish between S1 and S2. 1. If the Universe was atemporally caused, then S1 and S2 would be simultaneous. 2. S1 and S2 are not simultaneous. [By 3] 3. Therefore, the Universe cannot be atemporally caused. [Modus Ponens] 6. There are no frameworks of causation that can be used to distinguish between S1 and S2. 7. The Universe did not begin to exist. [By 2]

Counter-Argument to the Cosmological Argument

Rationale for controversial premises
In order to make the argument concise and short, I have had to state some propositions without further supporting them. Here, I will do so in more detail.

Premise 4.2
In Premise 4.2, I stated
Time is ontologically posterior to the Universe.

Says William Lane Craig[1],
As for ontological priority, that would indicate that some being’s existence presupposes the existence of another being. I think that in this context it basically comes to the same thing as causal priority. (In another context, one might say, for example, that a substance or thing is ontologically prior to the thing’s properties.) As defined by William Lane Craig, I am saying here that time is a property of the Universe – or that time’s existence presupposes the Universe. This viewpoint is emphasized by the findings of modern science as well as Saint Augustine. As described by Stephen Hawkings in “A Brief History of Time”, Before 1915, space and time were thought of as a fixed arena in which events took place, but which was not affected by what happened in it. This was true even of the special theory of relativity. Bodies moved, forces attracted and repelled, but time and space simply continued, unaffected. It was natural to think that space and time went on forever. The situation, however, is quite different in the general theory of relativity. Space and time are now dynamic quantities: when a body moves, or a force acts, it affects the curvature of space and time – and in turn the structure of space-time affects the way in which bodies move and forces act. Space and time not only affect but also are affected by everything that happens in the universe. Just as one cannot talk about events in the universe without the notions of space and time, so in general relativity it became meaningless to talk about space and time outside the limits of the universe.

Premise 5.1
In Premise 5.1, I stated If the Universe was atemporally caused, then S1 and S2 would be simultaneous. Here, I am building off of an explanation of “atemporal causation” by William Lane Craig[1], itself an explanation from Kant:

Counter-Argument to the Cosmological Argument
To borrow an illustration from Kant, a heavy ball’s resting on a cushion is the cause of a depression in the cushion, even if the ball has been resting on the cushion from eternity past. Here, we can see that if the cause of the depression is the ball, then the cause and effect (cause being the ball, effect being depression) are simultaneous.

Counter-Argument to the Cosmological Argument

Premise 6
In Premise 6, I stated There are no frameworks of causation that can be used to distinguish between S1 and S 2. This is a tentative proposition in order to prove the conclusion. I have ruled out atemporal causation, and temporal causation. The burden of proof to show a coherent framework of distinguishing between S1 and S2 is on the proponent of the Cosmological Argument.

Objections
What Craig emphasizes is that God's act of creating time-y is simultaneous with the instantiation of time-y. From my perspective, this doesn't involve any contradiction or equivocation. We simply have a timeless cause that brings about a temporal effect.

This can be analyzed in context of creating a moment of time “outside” of time. Rephrased, the argument can apply when S1 and S2 are rephrased from a state of affairs in which the Universe did not exist to a state of affairs in which time-y did not exist. I think this emphasizes the point – that an “atemporal act of creation” requires that simultaneity of existence and non-existence of whatever is being created.

Sources
1. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5867

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