Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Entropy Kills Kalam! Boom Shaka Laka!

The Argument from Entropy
Initially I conceived the argument from entropy as a contra-argument to the Kalam cosmological argument. Also, logically speaking the argument from entropy is backed by real observation, and is based on the second law of thermodynamics, hence the argument from entropy. But what is it exactly? The argument from entropy is:

1.     God created everything (including life)
2.     Entropy is certain
3.     Entropy will extinguish all life
4.     God has the power to prevent entropy, but doesn’t
5.     A God of love would prevent entropy
6.     Therefore God cannot be a loving being

Here we see that, logically speaking, entropy rules out a loving creator God. Even so, it is true that some deity may still be responsible for having created a universe capable of supporting life, but only insofar as this fulfills his ultimate purpose to, subsequently, have it annihilated (via entropy). As such, this rules out the Christian God, since we know that the Christian God is all loving and has the power to prevent certain death of his beloved creation. Failing to do so would suggest that it is not a loving God who created the universe; should a supernatural creating agent be involved. Thus the creator of this universe cannot be the Christian God.

Kalam Assumes Wrongly
Proponents of the Kalam cosmological argument assume that God is a personal being, a being of immense love, who intended there to be the flourishing of life—not impending heat death. But low and behold, the second law of thermodynamics is a veritable fact! As plain as day, we can see that any life which arises will just as quickly be snuffed out of existence, and this regrettable fact is evidence that God’s real desire is to have all things in existence annihilated. This means God is capriciously creating life only to distinguish it. It also means he is not technically a creator being, but rather, a being of destruction. Since the argument from entropy is predicated on real observations, and Kalam is predicated on the assumption of an uncaused cause (which we’ll get to momentarily), we know that the argument from entropy overrules the Kalam cosmological argument.

The Cornucopia Conundrum
Another reason the argument from entropy overrides the Kalam cosmological argument is that it is more practical. Unlike the Kalam, it does not generate the problem of inestimable quantities of excess gods. A Christian detractor criticized the argument from entropy, stating:

I am not sure how your ‘entropy argument’ defeats Kalam. Kalam makes no claim about the nature of the goodness of God or the permanence of the universe, per se, so claiming that somehow entropy indicates God isn’t what Christians suppose Him to be is irrelevant in this case... and I am not sure what it has to do with Kalam at all.

Okay, let’s break it down. The entire premise of Kalam, and the cosmological argument in general, rests on the theological foundation of Christianity as a proof for the existence of God. While is need not refer to the Christian God specifically, as it does not presuppose monotheism, it is most frequently employed by Christian theologians.

The prior assumption that the Creator being is the God of Christianity denotes a distinction between the types of gods we may be speaking of. Other religions have other concepts, but we cannot divorce the theological basis of the Kalam without losing all referent to the sort of deity it is trying to prove. After all, many gods are supposedly capable of creating the universe, but somehow I doubt the Kalam cosmological argument is making the claim that Brahma is the creator of the cosmic waters (i.e., the universe), in which he deposited the seed of life, in the form of a golden egg, called the hiranyagarbha, in which it was born itself as Brahma, the creator of the universe.

However, Christians presumptively claim that their God concept is the only viable one, i.e. the one true God. This is an inlaid confirmation bias, a feature of Christian thought, which, as it so happens, conveniently gets rid of the problem of having to weed through excess gods. Such an expedient fix may ease the believer’s difficulty in having to take seriously other religion’s god concepts, while escaping the heavy burden of weeding through and endless series of excess gods, testing god hypothesis after god hypothesis, to find the correct one predicted by Kalam.

If Kalam merely intended to prove that a god (singular, lowercase deity), then without defining it as, quote unquote, “the Christian God,” any other god would do. Therefore the confirmation bias within Christianity acts as a filter which allows only one god concept to properly be considered. As such, this confirmation bias is the reason the Kalam cosmological argument only intends to prove the existence of just one god—the Christian God—even as the Kalam cosmological argument does not presuppose monotheism.[i]

Knowing this we can safely assume that the Kalam cosmological argument, as argued for by Christian theologians, does make specific claims about the nature of the goodness of God and the permanence of the universe, because such claims are married to Christian theology and, as we have seen, cannot be so easily divorced. 

Foundations of the Kalam Cosmological Argument
Knowing that the Kalam cosmological argument does, in fact, refer to the Christian God, as Christian theologian William Lane Craig maintains, we can make some simple deductions based on the provided context. Let’s simplify this into formal logic and see how it works out.

According to Christian Belief
1.     God exists
2.     God is a creator being
3.     Everything in existence was created
4.     Therefore God created all

Following modal logic, we know that since God created everything he must be the initial cause of creation. Theologians then semantically manipulate the language by saying God is the “uncaused cause” which created the universe. Basically, saying something is an “uncaused cause” is the same as saying that it “just is.” How can we hope to argue against something that “just is”? Checkmate skeptics! God just is, deal with it. Never mind that this is nothing more than unconfirmed, desperate, special pleading.

Yet the Kalam cosmological argument goes one step further than this and suggests that God transcends all physical reality. What this means is that he is beyond space and time, he literally transcends reality. Which is sort of like saying God exists outside of the theoretical framework, and this is clearly meant to safeguard God from disproof. Now, according to Christian theological reasoning, God just is and since this is an unfalisfiable claim, we can neither confirm or disconfirm it, and so must take it on faith. Religious people tend to like unfalsifiable premises because they are a lot like Invisible Pink Unicorns. So be weary of such obvious pitfalls. Side-step them and move on.

Before we come back to the argument from entropy, however, let’s better define God as to discover why his inborn nature denotes that he act as creating agent.

According to Christian Belief
1.     God is a loving being
2.     God’s will is for there to be life
3.     God created all life (from 2)
4.     Therefore God love’s all life (from 1 and 3)

This defines God’s character, according to Christian belief, that he is a creator, is a loving God, and so, as a consequence, loves his creation infinitely. Allowing for the Christian understanding paves the way for the Kalam cosmological argument.

Two Logical Inferences from the Argument from Entropy
Now let’s talk about why the argument from entropy is problematic for the Kalam cosmological argument.

Let us consider two options regarding the consequences that arise from the argument from entropy.

Option 1
It is likely that the universe we live in is the byproduct of a capricious and unloving supreme being in which we are merely anomalous life forms, accidents of an ill-fated universe predestined to annihilation.

If so, for me personally, this is a frightening prospect and one religious believers ought to seriously ponder. Does such a description, as the argument from entropy provides, derived from observable reality, fit with the Christian notion of God? If not, then they are mistaken about the nature of their God. Whereas evil god theory accounts for the second law of thermodynamics, the Christian concept of God does not. In fact, the Christian concept of God, as we saw above, is falsified by the argument from entropy.

Option 2
It is likely that the universe exists as it naturally is, minus supernatural agents/assumptions, and therefore the observed entropy simply reflects the sort of universe we happen to live in.

If so, tough luck, but I still find it more desirable than being made a pawn in some mad-as-a-march-hair deity’s rigged chess game. Option two contains the more plausible answer, since unlike the philosophical premise of the first one, no ad hoc assumptions about initial causes are being made. Applying Occam’s razor we see the supernatural premise of a creating agent is unnecessary to explain entropy, therefore the second option is the more feasible of the two.

Asking the questions, “what sort of universe do we live in” and “which option most accurately depicts it?” allows us to rephrase these options as a logical deduction. It goes something like this: Using Occam’s razor to cut out the extemporaneous, option one falls away, since all supernatural agents/assumptions are unnecessary. Heat entropy can be explained as a natural consequence of the sort of universe we live in without invoking prior supernatural causes. Thus option two becomes the more conceivable choice. Accordingly, the best logical inference is that God is not required for the sort of universe we find ourselves in, and more over, the God of Christianity is incompatible with the sort of universe we do find ourselves in. As such, we can safely assume the Christian God does not exist.

Now, you can check my reasoning and see if I have made some sort of oversight, but I have thought long and hard about this, I have double and triple checked the logic, and I simply do not see what I could have overlooked.

About Beginnings
For Kalam to work God must exist necessarily so that he may be established as an uncaused cause, but I would caution this is pure sophist speculation. It does not follow from any logical deduction that I am aware of. Christians often presume we lack evidence of things coming into existence absent of any known cause. Anything which came into existence without a cause would defeat the idea that the universe could only come into existence via God’s divine will. Meaning, that if there was any evidence which showed us that the universe may come into existence without the aid of God, well then, this would defeat the Kalam cosmological argument. Luckily we are in possession of such evidence.

Quantum mechanics has measured the energy patterns of a proton coming in and out of existence with no apparent cause.

If the universe is uncaused, and just is, but exists none-the-less, then we have no need to ask about the cause. Kalam then posits God is the cause—which we have absolutely no reason to invoke. If the universe spontaneously came into existence, as quantum mechanics suggests, then again, we have no valid reason to invoke God.

The Circle that Begot a Triangle: Expounding the Analogy
According to Kalam: God is an uncaused cause; the universe is caused; therefore God preceded the universe and therefore must have caused it. That’s the reasoning behind Kalam anyway.

According to my analogy: A circle which is uncaused just is; a triangle is caused; therefore the circle which preceded the triangle must have caused it. Notice there is no actual link between a circle which just is and the existence of the triangle.

Thus asking whether an uncaused cause is related to the beginning of what it purportedly caused is ineffective. There is no valid relationship to connect God (the uncaused cause which just is) to the universe’s existence any more so than there is an uncaused circle (which just is) denotes any relationship to the existence of a triangle.

The theological premise that an uncaused cause caused our universe, and that God is such an uncaused causer, is not merely illogical, but hubristic in the highest sense of the word. It would be like saying that an uncaused circle caused a triangle, therefore any triangle which exists must have had a beginning, therefore a cause, thus the circle (which just is) really exists. Thinking this way too long is bound to give you a headache.

Worse still, somehow the nature of the triangle, it having three distinct angles, sides of discernible length, etc., is proof the circle (which just is) also happens to be loving circle of all triangular beginnings, for he loved them enough to give the unique properties which define triangles (three acute angles connected by three line segments—just as theologians claim God’s love also sponsored his desire to create life and therefore the life sustaining properties unique to our universe are evidence of God). Seriously, this is how backwards the reasoning of the Kalam cosmological argument is.

Recall that when we restate the Kalam’s first premise, to reflect our more practical understanding of the observable universe, we come up with: all physical reality which exists has a beginning and most probably a cause. As a lucky side-effect, all the other cause claims fall away, but the meaning is retained. Things that begin to exist usually have causes. But this does nothing to suggest God is that cause. For all we know, there may not have been any cause, i.e. the universe may have spontaneously erupted out of Quantum fluctuations, called a Quantum singularity. Let’s not overlook the fact that it’s called a singularity for a reason.

Therefore invoking God as an uncaused cause, proves illogical to begin with, and has nothing to do with the existence of the universe. Positing an uncaused cause as the cause to our beginning, then, is simply superfluous and is not necessary in establishing the universe’s existence. Do Quantum fluctuations require the existence of God? How so? That’s what I’d like to know. Couldn’t quantum events themselves be considered uncaused causes? Then what purpose serves God? God causing the universe simply does not follow from logical deduction, and so is, in philosophical terms, a poor inference. Just as an uncased circle is a poor inference for the existence of a triangle.

The Bottom Line
I do realize that the Kalam is arguing for the existence of God, not the existence of the universe, or of imaginary circles. But when pondering philosophical subjects, such as these, it is important to keep a distinction between analogies which aid in the description of the concept, and the concept itself. I think people often confuse or conflated the two. Analogies aren’t exact, mind you, they’re analogous.

The bottom line is God’s existence does not necessarily follow from logical processes. We cannot get from uncaused circles to triangles any more so than we can get from God to the universe. This is why the Kalam is a non-sequitur. It hasn’t proved God, nor has it explained the origins of the universe (to any relatable degree), even as it pretends to do both.

When we consider entropy, matters get severely complicated. As I have shown, the sort of universe we live in where the second law of thermodynamics is a veritable fact leads us to conclude that should God have created such a universe, he is either evil (a fact which is completely incompatible with the Christian God), or else, more probably, he does not exist as entropy can be explained without invoking supernatural agents (the simpler solution).

[i] The Kalam cosmological argument does not presuppose monotheism, let alone a personal God. Instead it allows for various conceptualizations of god. Ive written about this problem before in my essay entitled The Problem with Kalam (see here). Christian confirmation bias, however, is the only thing requiring Kalam be about the God of Christianity.

Advocatus Atheist

Advocatus Atheist