Showing posts with label Principle of Sufficient Reason. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Principle of Sufficient Reason. Show all posts

Dr. Alex Rosenberg On The Principle of Sufficient Reason

Dr. Alex Rosenberg is the R. Taylor Cole Professor of Philosophy at Duke University and head of the philosophy department. This comes from his debate with William Lane Craig, "Is Faith In God Reasonable":

--From his first statement:
Many of the arguments that Dr. Craig gave tonight and which he has given repeatedly in the past rest on the first cause argument. An argument that goes back certainly to St. Thomas Aquinas and probably to Aristotle and it rests on, of course, the principle of sufficient reason. The principle that everything that exists must have a cause. Now, the remarkable thing about this argument and the principle of sufficient reason as it is called on which it rests is that the principle is plainly false. OK? It is refuted trillions of times every second throughout the universe. It is refuted in this room and I will give you a pretty full explanation of why. Take two uranium-238 atoms that are absolutely indistinguishable. In a given moment these two indistinguishable atoms – atoms of exactly the same mass and energy state – have the following difference: one produces an alpha particle spontaneously and the other doesn’t and there is no cause whatsoever for that difference. That is what quantum mechanics tells us. Suddenly one emits an alpha particle and the other doesn’t and there is no cause whatever for that difference between them. Now, you might think that that is not a very important fact of nature but one mole – one Avogadro’s Number of uranium-238 molecules – emits three million alpha particles a second. And every helium atom on this planet is one of those alpha particles. And the smoke detectors that operate all through this auditorium to protect us from fires – those operate because of the indeterminate, unexplained, completely spontaneous appearance of an alpha particle out of a uranium atom in these systems. For Dr. Craig to insist on the arguments that rest on the claim that every event had a cause that had to have brought it into being is just bluff. It is not a principle accepted in physics. And you can’t argue from its intuitive attractiveness.