[Note: I’m writing this note after having finished with this post. This thing is complex. I have used a little logical notation, only because I do not have the time to keep rewriting the same premises. We may need to clarify some aspects of what I’ve written here, which I do want to do, because I want to have been fully clear before you respond to me. Also, I used underlines and italics to try to make sentences with multiple premises clearer, but I think they are hurting rather than helping. I simply don’t have time to go through and delete them, so I’ll just offer a “sorry about that.”]
Alright. I have identified what I think is the fundamental argument.
The universe must have a cause.
This will be referred to as P.
P is implicit in the argument you offered earlier, and, indeed, in every cosmological argument. Now, over the course of this debate, you attacked this premise’s denial, which I will refer to as ~P. But in doing so, you took the following premise (or a variation thereof):
The universe cannot have caused itself, and it cannot have been caused by nothing.
I will focus on the latter of those two statements. You argued that [nothing] could not have caused the universe because [nothing] has no properties and cannot “do,” etc. But this was fallacious in that it did not respond to ~P. Allow me to explain: The contention of ~P is not that [nothing], an actor, caused the universe. The contention is that the universe was not caused.
So, that [nothing] has no properties and therefore no causal power has no bearing on ~P, which, again, claims not that something without properties caused the universe, but that the universe was not caused.
Now, you want to disprove this. So you argue P–the universe must have a cause. But why?
Well, let me try.
Everything that exists must have a cause.
The universe exists.
Therefore, the universe must have a cause.
But now I find myself obliged to prove premise 1: Everything that exists must have a cause.. The theist’s manner of doing this is to formulate an argument which takes as its most essential premise:
That which exists, cannot come from that which does not.
You will find this premise in or implied in every cosmological proof of God ever offered. But, at this point, the argument has circled around. Here is why: [That which exists, cannot come from that which does not] really means [That which exists, cannot [be caused by] that which does not], which presupposes that that which exists must have been caused, which means that the conclusion has been taken as a premise, which is begging the question.
What all this means is that a denial of ~P–which is an affirmation of P, your premise–cannot rely on any variation of the maxim that that which exists cannot have been caused by nothing, because this presupposes that a cause must be found for that which exists.
But, such a thing cannot be done without fallacy or assumption. And it is for this reason that I say that the causal principle is assumptive.