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  1. The cosmological argument for the existence of God is one of the oldest. Whether it is the most powerful or the least useful is debated, though. There are many resources available regarding this argument, including my own post on it from some time ago. However, further debate has shed some new light on this issue for me. While I still believe the cosmological argument is valuable, to make a case for it against the intellectual theories of many skeptics requires a higher, more balanced, more critical level of analysis. So, I now present a more complex version of the cosmological argument that compares God as a first cause with other theories. I wrote this during a forum debate, so it may seem a bit off context-wise. The main issue is that something must be an uncaused fundamental. Something must be an essential part of reality from which everything else derives its being. Based on the most common theories, there are three main candidates: our universe (by universe I refer specifically to the spacetime in which we reside, which began its current form some 13+ billion years ago), a higher level of spacetime (or something beyond spacetime) or a multiverse in which our universe exists, or a deity of some kind. Our universe seems unlikely as the uncaused fundamental, because it seems to have had an origin. If it existed in another form before the Big Bang is pure speculation, untestable and unfalsifiable. While an oscillating universe (one which continually "bangs" and "crunches" throughout all eternity) seems conceptually possible, it raises questions about the second law of thermodynamics (does it reset on each bang?), the arrow of time, and similar ideas, which cannot even theoretically be answered. The possible advantage to this theory is it has a form of the anthropic principle built-in: the reason we as a species beat the odds and exist is because if there are infinite oscillations of the universe, each different than the last, there would inevitably be one with us. However, this could also be argued otherwise, as it is possible, if a deterministic interpretation of quantum mechanics is valid, that the universe could be identical in every iteration. Therefore the existence of man in a finite universe (which this would essentially be; a world on repeat) seems miraculously arbitrary. Regardless, the course of history seems to be teleological, which argues against this view unless the universe is sentient, which would essentially make the universe itself a pantheistic, deistic god. And of course this entire argument hinges on the idea that the universe may have had a pre-Bang past, which is a very shaky foundation. The possibility of our universe being a part of a higher spacetime, multiverse, or other substance which in turn is the uncaused fundamental is intriguing, but is also very speculative. However, unlike the previous view, this could in theory be verifiable if the higher spacetime had certain properties. Certain forms of higher spacetime would reveal themselves through KK (Klauza-Klein) particles or variations in gravity on small scales, and the detection of such particles or variations would all but prove there is a higher spacetime. Even so, it could not prove that the higher spacetime is an uncaused fundamental. This theory is also unfalsifiable, as there are many possible forms which could never be detected or disproved. On the plus side, it also has an anthropic principle, as in an infinite higher spacetime there could be infinite little universes, which would necessitate the existence of one with us. Unlike the view that our universe is fundamental, this doesn't have to deal with the possibility of man's existence being an arbitrary miracle, since it would simply be a probabilistic necessity. We also cannot make any statements about entropy in such a space; it may not have to deal with the second law of thermodynamics like some/all of its child universes would. Of course, this is intense speculation. The most peculiar feature of this theory is that it is functionally very similar to deism in that the fundamental spacetime/multiverse has most of the properties of a generic god, minus sentience. It is uncaused, eternal, omnipresent, and omnipotent. It only lacks omniscience, which is a property theoretically unique to sentient beings. The similarities between this view and deism actually, I think, lend credence to deistic/theistic theories. Finally, there is the possibility of a sentient deity being the uncaused fundamental. This could either be a deistic or a theistic god. Deism, it seems to me, is not functionally much different than the higher spacetime/multiverse view (which is probably why there are few professing deists today), so I will not elaborate on it. The defining element of this view is that the universe is the product of a personal choice by God. For fairness, I will give the weaknesses first. The most obvious weakness to this view is that God's personality seems arbitrary. If He is the uncaused fundamental, then He has no outside influence or explanation that affects His character. Basically, it would be as Exodus 3:14 says, "I AM WHO I AM." Nevertheless, since God is a free person, He is free to determine His own self. Since a level of seemingly arbitrary reality is present in each of these views, this is not a critical issue. Another issue is that a transcendent God could seem unfalsifiable and untestable. However, this really only applies to a deistic or generic theistic God. A specific God, such as Yahweh/Jesus, can be tested and falsified, which is an enormous advantage over the other theories. Another strength of this view is that it appeals to the teleological evidence in the universe. Fine tuned natural constants, unlikely conditions for the survival of humanity, and historical unity can be explained rather simply by intelligent choice as opposed to convoluted infinities. Occam's razor would prefer the choice of a single mind over infinite universes or infinite oscillations of one universe. It also, despite having arbitrary values, has the fewest of them. Theism only requires, at the core, sentience, omnipotence, and eternality, two of which it shares with the other theories. They each require a large number of other arbitrary values, such as physical constants and laws. Thus I would think theism is superior. It also relates better to observational evidence as to the origin of complexity. No evidence exists that specific non-random function can emerge from generic, unintelligent processes. The highest complexity we see created by natural phenomena is molecular patterns, which are not especially complex because patterns are simply repeating structures. In a theistic view, the complexity of the universe arrives from the only proven possible source of complexity, an intelligent being. In all, then, God is the most likely candidate for the uncaused fundamental which is necessary for the current state of reality.
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