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I am in the middle of writing another post, but as part of the process of writing it, I figured out a key, critical problem with the Cosmological Argument.  It relies on the Principle of Sufficient Reason - that nothing happens without a cause, but that since an infinite series of causes is impossible, there must have been a first, uncaused cause.  Fair enough, at least for the sake of argument.
I don't know if I'd let this part go with just a 'fair enough'.  It's not.  The axiomatic claim that 'an infinite series of causes is impossible' is too problematic for me to simply accept on a 'sake of argument' basis.  There is nothing, from a physical evidence standpoint, from a logic standpoint, from a philosophical standpoint, or even an intuitive standpoint, that establishes some finite limit to the number of causes per given effect.  If I start with the (currently understood as incorrect, mind you) axiom that there are no uncaused effects, I require additional information, more knowledge, to say that cause-effect cannot go to infinite regress.

Not that there is any harm with arguing based upon accepting the premise 'an infinite series of causes is impossible', but I put that in the same epistemological boat (if not the same boat, at least treading the same water) as accepting the premise that 'magic is real'.
However, if an infinite series of causes is impossible because you need a first cause in order to have all the intermediate causes and the most recent cause, would that not also mean that other infinite series are also impossible, for much the same reason?  For example, take the description "all-powerful".  It cannot be true unless something is more powerful than everything else, yet in order to be that, it must be infinite, because otherwise something could be more powerful than it.  Yet it cannot be infinite, because that would create a never-ending (and never-beginning) series of power levels.
And all of this depends on the reason given for why an infinite regress of causal events is impossible.  Your argument applies when the reason given is that infinities, in general, cannot exist.  'Infinite series of causes' is the get-out-of-jail-free card for the apologist you are arguing.  God's power isn't caused...it isn't an effect...it simply is.  Or god being 'all-powerful' doesn't mean 'infinite', just huge enough that it out-powers the sum total of all other powers (note the lack of definition of 'power' though) in reality.  And all of those gymnastics fail to address the elephant in the room - there is no good reason to accept the premise that 'an infinite series of causes is impossible'.  That reason is sufficient to detach the remaining logical mumbo-jumbo from reality.
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Add Homonym Stuff accurate September 17, 2013, 09:15:27 PM