Tuesday, May 25, 2010

William Lane Craig's Arguments for God Refuted



Considered one of the most famous and respected Christian apologists, William Lane Craig is often in atheists' cross-hairs and his arguments are often scrutinized both on the internet and in popular books, two examples being The Secular Web and Victor J. Stenger's 2008 book titled God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist.

Even though these arguments have been refuted by many others, and by those who have much more knowledge than I, I am always up for a challenge and so will do my best to show the illogical and unscientific nature of Craig's arguments. The source for the set of arguments I will tackle can be found in an article by Craig titled Five Arguments for God, currently hosted at The Gospel Coalition.

I've covered several of these arguments in the past but I'd like to take this opportunity to tackle these same arguments from such a respected philosopher as Craig, though for anyone who is familiar with my views, I do not think philosophy is the best method of getting at the truth.

With that, let's begin.

Craig begins his discussion by saying, "[L]et’s get clear what makes for a 'good' argument. An argument is a series of statements (called premises) leading to a conclusion. A sound argument must meet two conditions: (1) it is logically valid (i.e., its conclusion follows from the premises by the rules of logic), and (2) its premises are true. If an argument is sound, then the truth of the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises. But to be a good argument, it’s not enough that an argument be sound. We also need to have some reason to think that the premises are true. A logically valid argument that has, wholly unbeknownst to us, true premises isn’t a good argument for the conclusion. The premises have to have some degree of justification or warrant for us in order for a sound argument to be a good one. But how much warrant? The premises surely don’t need to be known to be true with certainty (we know almost nothing to be true with certainty!). Perhaps we should say that for an argument to be a good one the premises need to be probably true in light of the evidence."

And this is precisely part of Craig's problem. As I argued in my post Against the Gods, just because an argument is valid philosophically, and follows from it's premises, does not make it true. As even Craig says, the premise must have some solid evidence for it, and it naturally follows that if it doesn't, it should be discarded. Even Craig himself says,

But to be a good argument, it’s not enough that an argument be sound. We also need to have some reason to think that the premises are true.


These are the very means by which I will demolish William Lane Craig's arguments.

1. The Cosmological Argument from Contingency

Craig begins this argument by saying:

The cosmological argument comes in a variety of forms. Here’s a simple version of the famous version from contingency:

1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
3. The universe exists.
4. Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (from 1, 3).
5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God (from 2, 4).

Now this is a logically airtight argument. That is to say, if the premises are true, then the conclusion is unavoidable. It doesn’t matter if we don’t like the conclusion. It doesn’t matter if we have other objections to God’s existence. So long as we grant the three premises, we have to accept the conclusion. So the question is this: Which is more plausible—that those premises are true or that they are false?


He then attempts to justify the first premise, which is where things fall apart for Craig:

Consider first premise 1. According to premise 1, there are two kinds of things: things which exist necessarily and things which are produced by some external cause. Let me explain.

Things that exist necessarily exist by a necessity of their own nature. It’s impossible for them not to exist. Many mathematicians think that numbers, sets, and other mathematical entities exist in this way. They’re not caused to exist by something else; they just exist necessarily.

By contrast, things that are caused to exist by something else don’t exist necessarily. They exist contingently. They exist because something else has produced them. Familiar physical objects like people, planets, and galaxies belong in this category.

So premise 1 asserts that everything that exists can be explained in one of these two ways. This claim, when you reflect on it, seems very plausibly true. Imagine that you’re hiking through the woods and come across a translucent ball lying on the forest floor. You’d naturally wonder how it came to be there. If one of your hiking partners said to you, “Don’t worry about it! There isn’t any explanation of its existence!”, you’d either think he was crazy or figure that he just wanted you to keep moving. No one would take seriously the suggestion that the ball existed there with literally no explanation.


According to modern physics, however things can seemingly happen without cause. There are several things we observe that appear to have no cause. For example, "[w]hen an atom in an excited energy level drops to a lower level and emits a photon, a particle of light, we find no cause of that event. Similarly, no cause is evident in the decay of a radioactive nucleus." [1]

Craig goes on to discuss his other premises, but given the fact that either they require no comment or they hinge upon the first premise, I don't think I need to go through the others. I've taken the very legs of this argument out from under Craig.

I will, however, point out something he said in his conclusion:

From these three premises it follows that God exists. Now if God exists, the explanation of God’s existence lies in the necessity of his own nature, since, as even the atheist recognizes, it’s impossible for God to have a cause. So if this argument is successful, it proves the existence of a necessary, uncaused, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, personal Creator of the universe. This is truly astonishing! [emphasis mine]


Note the part of the quote I placed in italics. Craig, I feel, erects a strawman by arguing that atheists recognize "it’s impossible for God to have a cause." When have any atheists ever said such a thing? I certainly don't think this. And further more, I feel this statement about god not needing a cause is hypocritical because, as I noted in Against the Gods: "[Theologians] contradict themselves and claim their god is infinite and has always existed, though they can never articulate 'where' their god was or 'what' he was doing the eternity before he just happened to create this universe." How can their god not need a cause, but the universe must?!

2. The Kalam Cosmological Argument Based on the Beginning of the Universe

Craig presents this argument as follows:

Here’s a different version of the cosmological argument, which I have called the kalam cosmological argument in honor of its medieval Muslim proponents (kalam is the Arabic word for theology):

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Once we reach the conclusion that the universe has a cause, we can then analyze what properties such a cause must have and assess its theological significance.

Now again the argument is logically ironclad. So the only question is whether the two premises are more plausibly true than their denials.


As I will prove below, his premises are not true. I also must point out how slyly he sets up the argument. After he argues for his conclusion (that the universe has a cause) he wants to convince the reader that the cause must have the attributes of his christian god. How convenient. As I'll show later, even if the universe did have a cause there are plausible naturalistic scenarios that explain how it may have happened.

Craig attempts to justify his first premise:

Premise 1 seems obviously true—at the least, more so than its negation. First, it’s rooted in the necessary truth that something cannot come into being uncaused from nothing. To suggest that things could just pop into being uncaused out of nothing is literally worse than magic. Second, if things really could come into being uncaused out of nothing, then it’s inexplicable why just anything and everything do not come into existence uncaused from nothing. Third, premise 1 is constantly confirmed in our experience as we see things that begin to exist being brought about by prior causes.


Craig argued, "Third, premise 1 is constantly confirmed in our experience as we see things that begin to exist being brought about by prior causes."

As I noted in Craig's first argument, despite what we think happens is not always accurate. As I said, ideas must be tested, and things can seem to happen without cause.

Craig next explains his second premise:

Premise 2 can be supported both by philosophical argument and by scientific evidence. The philosophical arguments aim to show that there cannot have been an infinite regress of past events. In other words, the series of past events must be finite and have had a beginning. Some of these arguments try to show that it is impossible for an actually infinite number of things to exist; therefore, an infinite number of past events cannot exist. Others try to show that an actually infinite series of past events could never elapse; since the series of past events has obviously elapsed, the number of past events must be finite.

The scientific evidence for premise 2 is based on the expansion of the universe and the thermodynamic properties of the universe. According to the Big Bang model of the origin of the universe, physical space and time, along with all the matter and energy in the universe, came into being at a point in the past about 13.7 billion years ago (Fig. 1).


Figure 1: Geometrical Representation of Standard Model Space-Time. Space and time begin at the initial cosmological singularity, before which literally nothing exists.


What makes the Big Bang so amazing is that it represents the origin of the universe from literally nothing. As the physicist P. C. W. Davies explains, “the coming into being of the universe, as discussed in modern science . . . is not just a matter of imposing some sort of organization . . . upon a previous incoherent state, but literally the coming-into-being of all physical things from nothing.”

Of course, cosmologists have proposed alternative theories over the years to try to avoid this absolute beginning, but none of these theories has commended itself to the scientific community as more plausible than the Big Bang theory. In fact, in 2003 Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin proved that any universe that is, on average, in a state of cosmic expansion cannot be eternal in the past but must have an absolute beginning. Their proof holds regardless of the physical description of the very early universe, which still eludes scientists, and applies even to any wider multiverse of which our universe might be thought to be a part. Vilenkin pulls no punches:

"It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning."

Moreover, in addition to the evidence based on the expansion of the universe, we have thermodynamic evidence for the beginning of the universe. The Second Law of Thermodynamics predicts that in a finite amount of time, the universe will grind down to a cold, dark, dilute, and lifeless state. But if it has already existed for infinite time, the universe should now be in such a desolate condition. Scientists have therefore concluded that the universe must have begun to exist a finite time ago and is now in the process of winding down.


Again, as I've said already, just because Craig can't imagine an infinite universe doesn't mean it's impossible. Simply arguing that it's impossible without any proof is no argument. Second, Craig quotes Alexander Vilenkin from his 2006 book Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes and argues that because the universe cannot allegedly be past-eternal it implies a god, however, Vilenkin himself denies this interpretation just a few paragraphs after the statement quoted by Craig:

Theologians have often welcomed any evidence for the beginning of the universe, regarding it as evidence for the existence of God […] So what do we make of a proof that the beginning is unavoidable? Is it a proof of the existence of God? This view would be far too simplistic. Anyone who attempts to understand the origin of the universe should be prepared to address its logical paradoxes. In this regard, the theorem that I proved with my colleagues does not give much of an advantage to the theologian over the scientist. As evidenced by Jinasena’s remarks earlier in this chapter, religion is not immune to the paradoxes of Creation. [2]


Furthermore, via email I contacted Victor Stenger and asked him about the quote. He then contacted Alexander Vilenkin and others about this claim by Craig. I feel very privileged to have had a very small part in the correspondence with these scientists. During the discussions Mr. Vilenkin explains how, yes, the theorem does prove that the universe had a beginning, however, this conclusion is not written in stone. Given various "subtleties" the theorem could be negated.

Mr. Stenger asked Mr. Vilenkin the following question,

Does your theorem prove that the universe must have had a beginning?


Vilenkin replied,

No. But it proves that the expansion of the universe must have had a beginning. You can evade the theorem by postulating that the universe was contracting prior to some time.


Vilenkin added,

This sounds as if there is nothing wrong with having contraction prior to expansion. But the problem is that a contracting universe is highly unstable. Small perturbations would cause it to develop all sorts of messy singularities, so it would never make it to the expanding phase. That is why Aguirre & Gratton and Carroll & Chen had to assume that the arrow of time changes at t = 0. This makes the moment t = 0 rather special. I would say no less special than a true beginning of the universe. [3]


In a follow up email to me Mr. Vilenkin made his position clearer,

[I]f someone asks me whether or not the theorem I proved with Borde and Guth implies that the universe had a beginning, I would say that the short answer is "yes". If you are willing to get into subtleties, then the answer is "No, but..." So, there are ways to get around having a beginning, but then you are forced to have something nearly as special as a beginning.


I further learned that the cyclic model of the universe (that I often propose by Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok, authors of Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang), according to Vilenkin, "cannot be a complete description of the universe" because "[i]n the model of Steinhardt and Turok, there are some particles whose histories can be extended to the infinite past. Such particles go through an infinite succession of expansion and contraction cycles. But, as our theorem requires, histories of most particles cannot be so extended and should reach the boundary beyond which the cyclic picture no longer applies." [3]

Despite this flaw in the theory I've often proposed, there are other scientists who posit that an eternal universe is possible, such as Anthony Aguirre whose theories seem compatible with Vilenkin's theorem. [4]

There are even perfectly natural scenarios for the creation of the universe. One such hypothesis is by Victor Stenger who proposes our universe came about by a process called quantum tunneling, which also takes into account an eternal past and future. [5]

After this failed attempt at disproving a possible eternal universe, Craig proposes that the Second Law of Thermodynamics prevents an eternal universe. He says,

Moreover, in addition to the evidence based on the expansion of the universe, we have thermodynamic evidence for the beginning of the universe. The Second Law of Thermodynamics predicts that in a finite amount of time, the universe will grind down to a cold, dark, dilute, and lifeless state. But if it has already existed for infinite time, the universe should now be in such a desolate condition.


It's odd that Craig would cite the second law of thermodynamics to prove his point, but at the same time ignore the first law, which states that "energy can be transformed (changed from one form to another), but cannot be created or destroyed." [6] Given the first law, it would appear to demolish Craig's entire Kalam argument about the universe needing a "cause." Not that the above arguments I've presented thus far haven't done this already.

I asked Mr. Vilenkin about the second law of thermodynamics and whether or not it would prevent an eternal universe, and the short answer is no but here was his full answer to me:

It follows from the second law that the total entropy (which is the total amount of disorder) in the universe grows with time. This seems to imply that ordered systems, like living organisms, should gradually get extinct. However, the theory of inflation, which is now the leading cosmological paradigm, offers a way out of this conclusion.

This theory suggests that much of the universe is filled with peculiar high-energy stuff called "false vacuum", which causes the universe to expand at an extremely fast rate. Here and there, "normal" regions like ours are formed, where the false vacuum decays and its energy goes to produce a hot expanding fireball of matter and radiation. This explosive end of inflation is what we call the big bang. In this scenario, inflation is eternal, and big bangs will forever continue creating "pocket universes" like ours.

Now, how does this help with the second law argument? The amount of disorder in each pocket universe grows, and in any given region the stars die and all life forms get extinct, but new pocket universes are constantly being formed. So, at any time there are some new pocket universes which still have relatively low entropy. Their existence does not contradict the second law, since the number of high-entropy pockets grows with time. [7]


In his conclusion Craig states the following:

There seems to be only one way out of this dilemma, and that’s to say that the cause of the universe’s beginning is a personal agent who freely chooses to create a universe in time. Philosophers call this type of causation “agent causation,” and because the agent is free, he can initiate new effects by freely bringing about conditions that were not previously present. Thus, a finite time ago a Creator could have freely brought the world into being at that moment. In this way, the Creator could exist changelessly and eternally but choose to create the world in time. (By “choose” one need not mean that the Creator changes his mind about the decision to create, but that he freely and eternally intends to create a world with a beginning.) By exercising his causal power, he therefore brings it about that a world with a beginning comes to exist. So the cause is eternal, but the effect is not. In this way, then, it is possible for the temporal universe to have come to exist from an eternal cause: through the free will of a personal Creator.


As I've shown, his god is clearly not the only way out of this "dilemma." Even the scientist and science he cites disagree with him about this. Instead of the solution having to be his god, as I noted above, even if created there are natural scenarios that are plausible and due to the lack of evidence for the supernatural, the naturalistic scenario is incredibly more likely. [8]

3. The Moral Argument Based upon Moral Values and Duties

Craig sums up this argument thusly:


1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.


As I've argued elsewhere, I do not see much of an objective morality in our world, but mostly a relative one. Relative to one's socialization, culture, time in which we live, etc. At one time, it was moral to own slaves; even christians justified it by citing the fall of man. Thomas Aquinas accepted slavery because we live in a fallen world, and because of this we must accept this injustice. [9]

This is a perfect example of my claim in my paper Against the Gods that just because all of your premises are true, it doesn't mean your conclusion is true, ie. god exists. This moral argument does nothing to prove god because there clearly is not any objective moral standard that we can call upon. I agree that most believe in doing the right thing and this is nearly universal, but this hardly points to a god. The argument fails because there has yet to be any evidence of a god, therefore, we can conclude that it was nature, ie. evolution and natural selection, that crafted our innate moral capacities in order to better survive in the world and in our formed communities.

Craig tackles the well-known Euthyphro Dilemma, but his argument is very weak; in my view completely unconvincing. In my opinion, Plato demolished the moral argument for god thousands of years ago and judging by one of the most skilled christian apologist's weak response to it, it seems that the Euthyphro Dilemma has yet to be solved.

Craig simply says,

The weakness of the Euthyphro Dilemma is that the dilemma it presents is a false one because there’s a third alternative: namely, God wills something because he is good. God’s own nature is the standard of goodness, and his commandments to us are expressions of his nature. In short, our moral duties are determined by the commands of a just and loving God. [emphasis in original]


Craig continues,

So moral values are not independent of God because God’s own character defines what is good. God is essentially compassionate, fair, kind, impartial, and so on. His nature is the moral standard determining good and bad. His commands necessarily reflect in turn his moral nature. Therefore, they are not arbitrary. The morally good/bad is determined by God’s nature, and the morally right/wrong is determined by his will. God wills something because he is good, and something is right because God wills it.


God is simply "good" by nature, and therefore he wouldn't command anything immoral? Right. Is that why many people have claimed to hear god speak to them, and they then commit horrible atrocities? One example is Dena Schlosser, who chopped her baby's arms off because god supposedly told her to. [10]

Other than peoples' supposed experiences with god (which can said to be either good or bad, depending on who you ask. According to one person, god told them to help the poor, with another, god told someone to kill another, or chop their baby's arms off), where can we attempt to determine god's nature? Well, nature itself, and as even Darwin saw, was oftentimes cruel with animals killing other animals for food. Even though Darwin never actually used this phrase, nature truly is "red in tooth and claw."

Another source is the bible. Unfortunately, this source doesn't seem to help Craig either because throughout the bible god is reported to have ordered the killing of multitudes of people. Examples include Leviticus 10:1-3; Numbers 31: 1-35, where god orders the murder of thousands of Midianites; 1 Samuel 6:19, the murder of seventy people simply for looking at a chest (the Ark of the Lord); Deuteronomy13: 5, among other verses, speak of killing those who do not believe or try to turn others away from god. There are many other examples besides these in the Old Testament. Even in the New Testament, while god greatly mellows out during this time period, his earthly incarnation in Jesus (if you believe in the Trinity as Craig does) does not always put forth some moral or righteous teachings. For example, Matthew 10:34-36, Luke 14:26, and Luke 12:51-53 all speak of dividing family and friends and how "a man will find his enemies under his own roof." . In Matthew 10:24-25 and Luke 12:47 Jesus apparently has no problem with slavery, and in these two passages, Jesus not only thinks that slaves are never above their master, but in a parable Jesus recommended that a slave be "flogged severely" if they don't follow their master's wishes. So much for family values and equality!

So far we've looked at all the sources we can find in order to determine god's true nature, and in both cases - in nature and the bible - we've seen that god is not always good, and sometimes commands people to do things that are clearly immoral, such as murder. Furthermore, Craig simply states that god is good without any proof whatsoever. He simply proclaims this as a fact, but this obviously isn't a fact. Therefore, it is wholly illogical to offer the argument that god's nature is good against the Euthyphro Dilemma.

Even though morality is relative, it does not mean we can do whatever we wish. We still have a responsibility to our friends and family and there are various secular moral systems that have been developed throughout history that can guide us through this morally relative world.

After all, even religion's morality is relative. It's dependent upon god's commands (there's the Euthyphro Dilemma again), and even differing and the same religions (through it's various sects) are conflicted and disagree when it comes to moral choices, so it's obvious that religion does not solve the problem of morality or prove god exists since god has yet to be proven, and there are much more plausible naturalistic reasons for our relativistic morality: evolution. There is a growing body of research that points in this direction. [11]

However, some argue that this is proof of a moral sense installed by god, but again, where is the proof? There is proof that evolution and natural selection has acted upon species and there is evidence of a moral sense. There is no evidence of a god, therefore, I'd go with the explanation that has evidence for it every time.

Furthermore, ala Craig's supposed rebuttal to the Euthyphro Dilemma, if god's nature is all good, then why does our moral sense contain both compassionate and selfish behavior? If god is all good, then that stands to reason that god wouldn't have placed a selfish morality inside his creations; only one of total compassion for everyone and everything. Therefore, the most logical conclusion is that natural selection crafted our innate moral sense and empathy, which isn't perfect and is combined with our less desirable traits.

In conclusion, judging by the evidence at hand, and logic, the moral argument for god does not stand up.

4. The Teleological Argument from Fine-tuning

Craig begins his discussion of the "fine-tuning" of the universe with the following:

We now come to the teleological argument, or the argument for design. Although advocates of the so-called Intelligent Design movement have continued the tradition of focusing on examples of design in biological systems, the cutting edge of the contemporary discussion concerns the remarkable fine-tuning of the cosmos for life.

Before we discuss this argument, it’s important to understand that by “fine-tuning” one does not mean “designed” (otherwise the argument would be obviously circular). Rather during the last forty years or so, scientists have discovered that the existence of intelligent life depends upon a complex and delicate balance of initial conditions given in the Big Bang itself. This is known as the fine-tuning of the universe.

This fine-tuning is of two sorts. First, when the laws of nature are expressed as mathematical equations, you find appearing in them certain constants, like the constant that represents the force of gravity. These constants are not determined by the laws of nature. The laws of nature are consistent with a wide range of values for these constants. Second, in addition to these constants, there are certain arbitrary quantities that are put in just as initial conditions on which the laws of nature operate, for example, the amount of entropy or the balance between matter and anti-matter in the universe. Now all of these constants and quantities fall into an extraordinarily narrow range of life-permitting values. Were these constants or quantities to be altered by less than a hair’s breadth, the life-permitting balance would be destroyed, and no living organisms of any kind could exist.23

For example, a change in the strength of the atomic weak force by only one part in 10100 would have prevented a life-permitting universe. The cosmological constant which drives the inflation of the universe and is responsible for the recently discovered acceleration of the universe’s expansion is inexplicably fine-tuned to around one part in 10120. Roger Penrose of Oxford University has calculated that the odds of the Big Bang’s low entropy condition existing by chance are on the order of one out of 1010(123). Penrose comments, “I cannot even recall seeing anything else in physics whose accuracy is known to approach, even remotely, a figure like one part in 1010(123).”24 And it’s not just each constant or quantity that must be exquisitely finely-tuned; their ratios to one another must be also finely-tuned. So improbability is multiplied by improbability by improbability until our minds are reeling in incomprehensible numbers.

So when scientists say that the universe is fine-tuned for life, they don’t mean “designed”; rather they mean that small deviations from the actual values of the fundamental constants and quantities of nature would render the universe life-prohibiting or, alternatively, that the range of life-permitting values is incomprehensibly narrow in comparison with the range of assumable values. Dawkins himself, citing the work of the Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees, acknowledges that the universe does exhibit this extraordinary fine-tuning.


Craig is obviously talking about intelligent design here, but in the last paragraph quoted he seems to me to be trying to distance the intelligent design argument from its religious connotations by saying that fine-tuning doesn't mean "designed," even though that's exactly what he's doing.

He further said in the beginning of his discussion:

Before we discuss this argument, it’s important to understand that by “fine-tuning” one does not mean “designed” (otherwise the argument would be obviously circular).


So what is Craig trying to do here? Even in his "proof" below he argues that this "fine-tuning" is the result of "design" so is Craig contradicting himself? It seems that way to me.

If Craig is trying to distance this obviously religiously motivated argument (intelligent design) from religion it is futile since even one of the famed advocates of intelligent design, William Dembski, has stated the following making the intelligent design movement's true motives clear:

Where is the work on design heading? [...] [S]pecified complexity is starting to have an effect on the special sciences. [...]

[D]espite it's [...]implications for science, I regard the ultimate significance of this work to lie in metaphysics. [...]

The primary challenge, once the broader implications [...] for science have been worked out, is [...] to develop a relational ontology in which the problem of being resolves thus: to be is to be in communion, and to be in communion is to transmit and receive information. Such an ontology will [...] safeguard science and leave adequate breathing space for design, but [...] also make sense of the world as sacrament.

The world is a mirror representing the divine life. The mechanical philosophy was ever blind to this fact. Intelligent design [...] readily embraces the sacramental nature of physical reality. Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John's Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory. (emphasis added) [12]


Craig lays out his argument:

Here, then, is a simple formulation of a teleological argument based on fine-tuning:

1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
3. Therefore, it is due to design.


As Craig has said many times now, in order for an argument to be valid, it's premises must all be shown to be true and the second premise has not been proven. How does Craig know it cannot be due to chance? Has he cited any evidence to that effect? Of course not.

The fact is, if one varies many of these numbers a universe still is possible:

"Physicist Anthony Aguire has independently examined the universes that result when six cosmological parameters are simultaneously varied by orders of magnitude, and found he could construct cosmologies in which 'stars, planets, and intelligent life can plausibly arise.' Physicist Craig Hogan has done another independent analysis that leads to similar conclusions. And, theoretical physicists at Kyoto University in Japan have shown that heavy elements needed for life will be present in even the earliest stars independent of what the exact parameters for star formation may have been." [13]

According to Gordon L. Kane, and associates, "In string theories all of the parameters of the theory - in particular all quark and lepton masses, and all coupling strength - are calculable, so there are parameters left to allow anthropic arguments" [...] [14]

Even Stephen Hawking's more recent studies seem to cast doubt upon the fine-tuning argument. "He proposed that our universe is much less 'special' than the proponents of the Anthropic Principle claim it is. According to Hawking, there is a 98 percent chance that a universe of a type as our own will come from the Big Bang. Further, using the basic wave function of the universe as a basis, Hawking's equations indicate that such a universe can come into existence without relation to anything prior to it, meaning that it could come out of nothing." [emphasis in original] [15]

Let's look at one of the examples of "design" that Craig cites:

The cosmological constant which drives the inflation of the universe and is responsible for the recently discovered acceleration of the universe’s expansion is inexplicably fine-tuned to around one part in 10120.


However, according to Victor J. Stenger, it seems that the cosmological constant isn't "fine-tuned" at all:

For most of the twentieth century it was assumed that the cosmological constant was identically zero, although no known laws of physics specified this. At least no astronomical observations indicated otherwise. Then, in 1998, two independent groups studying supernovas in distant galaxies discovered, to their great surprise since they were looking for the opposite, that the expansion of the universe was accelerating. This result was soon confirmed by other observations, including those made with the Hubble Space Telescope.

The component of the universe responsible for the acceleration was dubbed dark energy. It constitutes 73 percent of the total mass of the universe. The natural assumption is to attribute the acceleration to the cosmological constant, and the data, so far, seem to support that interpretation.

Theorists had earlier attempted to calculate the cosmological constant from basic quantum physics. The result they obtained was 120 orders of magnitude larger than the maximum value obtained from astronomical observations.

Now this is indeed a problem. But it certainly does not imply that the cosmological constant has been fine-tuned by 120 orders of magnitude. What it implies is that physicists have made a stupid, dumb-ass, wrong calculation that has to be the worst calculation in physics history.

Clearly the cosmological constant is small, possibly even zero. This can happen any number of ways. If the early universe possessed, as many propose, a property called supersymmetry, then the cosmological constant would have been exactly zero at that time. It can be shown that if negative energy states, already present in the calculation for the cosmological constant, are not simply ignored but counted in the energy balance, then the cosmological constant will also be identically zero.

Other sources of cosmic acceleration have been proposed, such as a field of neutral material particles pervading the universe that has been dubbed quintessence. This field would have to have a negative pressure, but if it is sufficiently negative it will be gravitationally repulsive. [16]


Judging from this evidence, many parameters can be varied and a universe is still possible. Even if some of these universes did not result in our form of life, it is possible that another forms of intelligent life could flourish. After all, if the parameters were not as they were we wouldn't be here to discuss them anyhow! This hardly implies any sort of design.

Regardless, Craig attempts to back up his premises:

Premise 1 simply lists the three possibilities for explaining the presence of this amazing fine-tuning of the universe: physical necessity, chance, or design. The first alternative holds that there’s some unknown Theory of Everything (TOE) that would explain the way the universe is. It had to be that way, and there was really no chance or little chance of the universe’s not being life-permitting. By contrast, the second alternative states that the fine-tuning is due entirely to chance. It’s just an accident that the universe is life-permitting, and we’re the lucky beneficiaries. The third alternative rejects both of these accounts in favor of an intelligent Mind behind the cosmos, who designed the universe to permit life. The question is this: Which of these alternatives is the best explanation?


Craig continues:

Premise 2 of the argument addresses that question. Consider the three alternatives. The first alternative, physical necessity, is extraordinarily implausible because, as we’ve seen, the constants and quantities are independent of the laws of nature. So, for example, the most promising candidate for a TOE to date, super-string theory or M-Theory, fails to predict uniquely our universe. String theory allows a “cosmic landscape” of around 10500 different possible universes governed by the present laws of nature, so it does nothing to render the observed values of the constants and quantities physically necessary. With respect to this first alternative, Dawkins notes that Sir Martin Rees rejects this explanation, and Dawkins says, “I think I agree.”

So what about the second alternative, that the fine-tuning of the universe is due to chance? The problem with this alternative is that the odds against the universe’s being life-permitting are so incomprehensibly great that they can’t be reasonably faced. Even though there will be a huge number of life-permitting universes lying within the cosmic landscape, nevertheless the number of life-permitting worlds will be unfathomably tiny compared to the entire landscape, so that the existence of a life-permitting universe is fantastically improbable. Students or laymen who blithely assert, “It could have happened by chance!” simply have no conception of the fantastic precision of the fine-tuning requisite for life. They would never embrace such a hypothesis in any other area of their lives—for example, in order to explain how there came to be overnight a car in their driveway.


Again, just because something seems improbable doesn't make it so. After all, Craig is simply postulating an entity (god) that has no evidence going for it. Most of the "fine-tuning" has been shown to be false, or are misunderstandings. Due to my lack of knowledge of physics I will point the reader to other sources of information about more of these arguments. [17]

It seems that, according to the work by Victor Stenger, most of the fine-tuning is not that 'precise', unlike what Craig asserts.

After all, as Mr. Stenger noted in God: The Failed Hypothesis:

The anthropic argument for the existence of God can be turned on its head to provide an argument against the existence of God. If God created a universe with at least one major purpose being the development of human life, then it is reasonable to expect that the universe should be congenial to human life. Now, you might say that God may have had other purposes besides humanity. [...] [A]pologists can always invent a god for whom humanity is not very high on the agenda and who put us off in a minuscule, obscure corner of the universe. However, this is not the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, who places great value on the human being and supposedly created us in his image. Why would God send his only son to die an agonizing death to redeem an insignificant bit of carbon?

If the universe were congenial to human life, then you would expect it to be easy for humanlife life to develop and survive throughout the universe. [18]


The rest of this section critiques arguments by Richard Dawkins (this article was originally a critique of some of Richard Dawkins' arguments in his 2006 book The God Delusion) and various other theories of the universe, such as the oscillating model of the universe and Lee Smolin’s evolutionary cosmology.

Again, due to my lack of in-depth knowledge of these theories I won't attempt to address Craig's claims, however, he does make an obvious mistake when critiquing the oscillating model of the universe.

Craig says,

Dawkins is apparently unaware of the many difficulties of oscillatory models of the universe that have made contemporary cosmologists skeptical of them. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, some theorists proposed oscillating models of the universe in an attempt to avert the initial singularity predicted by the Standard Model. The prospects of such models were severely dimmed in 1970, however, by Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking’s formulation of the singularity theorems that bear their names. The theorems disclosed that under very generalized conditions an initial cosmological singularity is inevitable. Since it’s impossible to extend space-time through a singularity to a prior state, the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorems implied the absolute beginning of the universe. Reflecting on the impact of this discovery, Hawking notes that the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorems “led to the abandonment of attempts (mainly by the Russians) to argue that there was a previous contracting phase and a non-singular bounce into expansion. Instead almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang.”


As Victor Stenger has pointed out more than once, this is a classic mistake that has been made by Craig for quite some time. Hawking and Penrose's theory did not prove that there was a beginning or singularity when quantum mechanics is taken into account:

Hawking has repudiated his own earlier proof. In his best seller A Brief History of Time, he avers, "There was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe." This revised conclusion, concurred by Penrose, follows from quantum mechanics, the theory of atomic processes that was developed in the years following the introduction of Einstein's theories of relativity. Quantum mechanics, which also is now confirmed to great precision, tells us that general relativity, at least as currently formulated, must break down at times less than the Planck time and at distances smaller than the Planck length [...] It follows that general relativity cannot be used to imply that a singularity occurred prior to the Planck time and that Craig's use of the singularity theorem for a beginning of time is invalid. [19]


In his book The New Atheism Victor Stenger says:

Although the [argument from intelligent design by way of the biological sciences] has received greater public attention, more science-savvy theologians agree with most scientists that intelligent design, at least as it has been formulated so far, is a failure. Theologians are far more impressed by the fine-tuning argument [...] [20]


I firmly believe that as time goes on, just as with the science of evolution, these fine-tuning arguments will be seen as just as absurd as most claims of biological design are now as we gain more and more knowledge about our universe.

5. The Ontological Argument from the Possibility of God’s Existence to His Actuality

As I noted in my paper Against the Gods, I feel that the Ontological arguments do absolutely nothing to prove god, or even show through some form of logic that god exists but I will do my best to show that this argument, too, is illogical.

Craig makes use of Alvin Plantinga's version of the Ontological argument:


1. It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
5. If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.
6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.


Later on Craig argues,

The concept of a married bachelor is not a strictly self-contradictory concept (as is the concept of a married unmarried man), and yet it is obvious, once one understands the meaning of the words “married” and “bachelor,” that nothing corresponding to that concept can exist. By contrast, the concept of a maximally great being doesn’t seem even remotely incoherent. This provides some prima facie warrant for thinking that it is possible that a maximally great being exists.


I agree that the argument itself is sound if you accept that a great being exists, however, is the conclusion true? Is the premise even true? I'd say the premise, that it's possible that a maximally great being exists, could be true however what evidence is there for one? Plantinga seems to be begging the question here because he uses the term "possible" in his premise, but then assumes god's reality as a fact in his conclusion! Also, doesn't a premise have to be shown to be true before the conclusion can be shown to be true?!

Even earlier Craig himself stated,

But to be a good argument, it’s not enough that an argument be sound. We also need to have some reason to think that the premises are true. A logically valid argument that has, wholly unbeknownst to us, true premises isn’t a good argument for the conclusion. The premises have to have some degree of justification or warrant for us in order for a sound argument to be a good one.


There are also more in depth rebuttals to this argument, such as one by Darrin at Debunking Christianity [21]

So far, Craig's other arguments have been found to be flawed so what are the chances that this form of mental gymnastics is even remotely true, and describes the real world? Slim to none.

In Craig's conclusion he says,

We’ve examined five traditional arguments for the existence of God in light of modern philosophy, science, and mathematics:

1. the cosmological argument from contingency
2. the kalam cosmological argument based on the beginning of the universe
3. the moral argument based upon objective moral values and duties
4. the teleological argument from fine-tuning
5. the ontological argument from the possibility of God’s existence to his actuality

These are, I believe, good arguments for God’s existence. That is to say, they are logically valid; their premises are true; and their premises are more plausible in light of the evidence than their negations. Therefore, insofar as we are rational people, we should embrace their conclusions. Much more remains to be said and has been said. I refer you to the works cited in the footnotes and bibliography, should you wish to explore further. But I trust that enough has been said here to show that the traditional theistic arguments remain unscathed by the objections raised by the likes of New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins.


I agree that Richard Dawkins did not do the best when critiquing all of the arguments for god, however, I don't think he did as bad as Craig asserts. After all, as I've shown, Craig himself made many logical and factual errors and since "we are rational people" then it follows that Craig's arguments for god are wrong and we should embrace the conclusion that these arguments do nothing to prove god exists.

Conclusion

I fully believe that I've (for the most part) thoroughly refuted William Lane Craig's arguments for god. The only set of arguments I feel I did not do the best on were the Teleological and Ontological arguments, which I admit are a bit out of my range of expertise, though I referred the reader to other, more reliable, sources on the problems with these particular arguments.

As I said at the end of the last section, due to Craig's many factual and logical errors it is incumbent upon any rational person to embrace the conclusion that if these arguments are seen to be faulty then it stands to reason that there is no evidence of god's existence. Given this fact, it shouldn't take much for a rational individual to further conclude that god is most likely non-existent.

Note: A christian who is obviously a fanboy of Craig’s seems to have taken offense at the fact that I demolished his idol’s arguments and tried his hand at refuting my counter-arguments. Though, as I show here and here, his attempts failed miserably, and he ended up putting his foot in his mouth several times, and completely misread and ignored much of what I had said throughout our discussions. This shows me that instead of wishing to deal with many of my arguments outright his true motive was to defend his idol William Lane Craig at all costs. Even if it means ignoring facts and arguments and completely misrepresenting what someone says.

Footnotes

1. God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist, by Victor J. Stenger, Prometheus Books, 2007; 124

2. Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes, by Alexander Vilenkin, Hill & Wang, 2006; 176-177

3. These email exchanges (at least the ones I was privy to) took place between 5-20-10 and 5-24-10 and are used with permission.

4. Two papers by Aguire that present his theories are:

Eternal Inflation, past and future, by Anthony Aguirre

Inflation without a beginning: a null boundary proposal, by Anthony Aguirre - A huge thanks goes to Victor Stenger for emailing these two papers to me.

5. The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason, by Victor J. Stenger, Prometheus Book, 2009; 171

6. First law of thermodynamics - accessed 5-23-10

7. Personal communication via email with Mr. Vilenkin, dated 5-23-10

8. Please read my two posts, Evidence Against the Supernatural, Parts One and Two

9. Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World, by David Brion Davis, Oxford University Press, 2006; 55

10. Dena Schlosser on Wikipedia.org - accessed 5-24-10

11. Babies Provide More Evidence of Humans' Innate Morality

12. Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, by Barbara Forrest & Paul A. Gross, Oxford University Press, 2004; 260-261

The following post also exposes the dishonesty and religious motivations of those who advocate intelligent design: Creationism's Trojan Horse with Barbara Forrest

Here is another good post: NCSE Video Exposes Intelligent Design

13. God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist, by Victor J. Stenger. Prometheus Books, 2007; 148-149

14. Did Man Create God? Is Your Spiritual Brain at Peace with Your Thinking Brain?, by David E. Comings, M.D., Hope Press, 2008; 272

15. Ibid.; 272

16. The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason, by Victor J. Stenger, Prometheus Books, 2009; 95-96

17. Two books by Victor J. Stenger that address several of the fine-tuning arguments are : The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason and God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist. I should note, too, that currently Mr. Stenger is working on a book as of this writing solely addressing the fine-tuning arguments. Keep an eye out for it.

18. God: The Failed Hypothesis; 154

19. Ibid.; 122

20. The New Atheism; 88

21. On Plantinga's Ontological Argument - accessed 5-25-10

71 comments:

  1. Ken you’ve done a good job debating all of Craig’s responses to “flawed science”.

    However I think you could have been much briefer.

    Let’s look at the beginning of the essay.

    "Craig begins this argument by saying:
    The cosmological argument comes in a variety of forms. Here’s a simple version of the famous version from contingency:

    1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
    2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
    3. The universe exists.
    4. Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (from 1, 3).
    5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God (from 2, 4)."

    He uses this same calculation a few more times, according to your review.

    It’s very much like the algebraic calculation A=B, B=C, therefore A=C. Only Craig states that A=C, B=C, there for god created the universe. You see?

    There was a murder. Someone must be the murderer. Therefore, John Smith is the murderer. Maybe it’s not the best analogy, but it’s an analogy nonetheless.

    I’m saying that he skips a plethora of explanation between “Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause” and “Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.” No it’s not! How in the hell did he get from #1 to “Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.”

    Why not “Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause”, “Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is spam”?

    You are also correct in calling him out for knowing what it is that could possibly have existed before the universe as we know it. Again, something must have existed in eternity, so it must have been the christian god. Why wasn’t it a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

    Something must have created trees and obvious it was the christian god.

    Someone must have inspired Truman to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and obvious it was the christian god.

    Someone must have inspired whoever it was to cause 9/11/01 to happen and obviously it was the christian god.

    Oh, I suppose he knows that the last two were not the work of the christian god.

    I was once asked when I inquired into why god allowed this or that, “How dare you assume to know why god does what “he” (and it was a woman who was scolding me) does!”

    Yet, when it’s convenient, religious and, more specifically, christian apologists seem to have those answers.

    “9/11 happened because America tolerates the gay lifestyle.”

    I know I don’t have to tell you where that came from.

    Michael

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  2. Hi Michael, thanks for the comment. I agree I could have been briefer but I was anticipating (as I always do) possible rebuttals so I like to cover my bases and be as thorough as possible. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  3. "The first alternative holds that there’s some unknown Theory of Everything (TOE) that would explain the way the universe is. It had to be that way, and there was really no chance or little chance of the universe’s not being life-permitting. By contrast, the second alternative states that the fine-tuning is due entirely to chance. It’s just an accident that the universe is life-permitting, and we’re the lucky beneficiaries."
    - Craig overlooks the possibility that the physical constants could be the product of both chance and necessity, here. The alternatives are false.

    "I firmly believe that as time goes on, just as with the science of evolution, these fine-tuning arguments will be seen as just as absurd as most claims of biological design are now as we gain more and more knowledge about our universe. "
    - Absolutely. These kinds of arguments are wildly premature. There has been great progress and upheaval in Cosmology during the 20th Century, and it's silly to assume that the science has been settled.

    "I agree that the argument itself is sound if you accept that a great being exists, however, is the conclusion true? Is the premise even true? I'd say the premise, that it's possible that a maximally great being exists, could be true however what evidence is there for one? Plantinga seems to be begging the question here because he uses the term "possible" in his premise, but then assumes god's reality as a fact in his conclusion! Also, doesn't a premise have to be shown to be true before the conclusion can be shown to be true?! "
    - If you concede that "a maximally great being is possible" could be true, then you're saying that "a maximally great being exists" is possibly possible. But whatever is possibly possible is possible (this is a theorem of modal logic).
    - Plantinga's relying on a conservative standard for possibility which says "You should accept as possible anything which is not overtly incoherent or self-contradictory" - hence Craig's comment. This is what usually passes for evidence of a possibility claim.
    - However, the principle doesn't seem to apply to non-contingent (i.e. necessary or impossible) beings. The reason is that it leads to contradiction, at least wherever the ontological status of the existent remains in question. For it is true that we can conceive of God existing, and if we take God to be a maximally great being, then we can conceive of a maximally great being existing. But so too can we conceive of the non-existence of God, and by the same identification of God with a maximally great being, we can conceive of a maximally great being's non-existence. Both alternatives appear possible, so the above principle tells us both are possible, yet both cannot be possible, for each would imply the negation of the other. So we have a contradiction, and something has to go (it may be the principle, or it may be the identification of God as a maximally great being).

    "The only set of arguments I feel I did not do the best on were the Teleological.."
    - Actually, I thought the stuff on the teleological argument was quite good. Anyway, thanks for post.

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  4. Hi AZ-A,
    Thanks for the post, it's nice to have something to chew on. I have some thoughts, which you can take or leave:

    "According to modern physics, however things can seemingly happen without cause."
    - Yes, however, this strictly doesn't contest premise 1, since something which has no external cause may after all have an explanation in the necessity of its own nature - you need to make clear that your counterexamples do not have this feature. Also, the examples you give are not of things that exist, but rather of events, so this doesn't directly contradict Craig's 1, either.
    - I think the weakest premise here is (2), by the way, in that Craig is introducing a false dichotomy with it: either the universe explained by God, or the universe is unexplained. But of course, no thinking atheist would deny the possibility that the universe is caused by something which is not God.
    - From what you've quoted here, Craig's justification of 1 is an utter failure. He cites "numbers, sets, and other mathematical entities" as examples of "things which exist necessarily", saying that "They’re not caused to exist by something else; they just exist necessarily.". But if they "just exist necessarily", then that sounds exactly as if Craig is saying their existence is a brute fact, and so contra premise 1, it looks as though Craig has made the case that necessary existents do not have explanations at all.

    "1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause."
    - I've been thinking about this. It seems to me that 1 has exactly the same intuitive pull as "1'. Everything has a cause", and for the good reason that 1 is a special case of the 1'. But if that's so, if the intuitive force of 1 derives from the same source as that of 1', then our denial of the latter in the case of God should cast doubt on 1' as well. So I don't really think Craig improves his argument over a naive version involving 1' here, unless he provide some reason for 1 which doesn't apply to 1' and doesn't beg the question in favor of God's existence.

    "As I've argued elsewhere, I do not see much of an objective morality in our world, but mostly a relative one."
    - Careful. There's a difference between descriptive relativism and normative relativism. You appear to be making an empirical claim about the moral codes embraced by different persons and cultures, but this does not entail that morality is not objective.

    "The argument fails because there has yet to be any evidence of a god, therefore, we can conclude that it was nature, ie. evolution and natural selection, that crafted our innate moral capacities in order to better survive in the world and in our formed communities."
    - This is circular reasoning. You're saying that the argument fails because we have no evidence of God, whereas if the argument were true, it would constitute evidence of God (indeed, it would entail his existence). It would be better to argue that the naturalistic paradigm accounts for the moral behavior of humans quite well, thank-you very much, and to deny that there is anything over and above this moral behavior which needs to be explained. Insofar as (2) is plausible, it reduces to the moral behaviors.

    "Therefore, it is wholly illogical to offer the argument that god's nature is good against the Euthyphro Dilemma."
    - I think the reason why this is a bad response to the Euthyphro Dilemma is that, if God's own character defines the good, then the good is good because wills it, so this is not a genuine third alternative. But strictly speaking, the Euthyphro dilemma is irrelevant to Craig's moral argument, so I don't think you should be bringing it up (interesting though it is).

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  5. Hi TaiChi, thank you for the comments and the challenging questions.

    "You appear to be making an empirical claim about the moral codes embraced by different persons and cultures, but this does not entail that morality is not objective."

    I do not believe in "objective" morality since there is no such thing as morality that is not dependent upon human beings.
    That's just not possible anyway.

    Though, I believe that there are some universals (such as no murder, etc.) but even rape in some cultures is seen as a normal part of life, such as the Yanomamo. But we see it as horribly wrong.

    "- Yes, however, this strictly doesn't contest premise 1, since something which has no external cause may after all have an explanation in the necessity of its own nature - you need to make clear that your counterexamples do not have this feature."

    Due to my lack of knowledge of physics I am not sure if those examples I cited do have that feature or not. Besides, due to the pure lack of evidence for a god, I don't find that piece of the argument very convincing. We do not yet know enough about the universe to tell if those two claims are true, or even the only ones. It's philosophy, it's not a tested theory, so until we gain more knowledge, I don't feel the question has to be answered. I don't know and neither does Craig.

    "1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
    - I've been thinking about this. It seems to me that 1 has exactly the same intuitive pull as "1'. Everything has a cause", and for the good reason that 1 is a special case of the 1'."

    I think that this is the theologian's way of getting out of the common counter argument that if the universe needs a cause, so does god. But with this argument, the theist argues that god is simply here, he never began to exist, therefore he doesn't need a cause. But since, they argue, the universe began to exist, it does need a cause. See how slick they are there? But as I have shown scientifically, it seems that things can happen without cause, and these things exist. Once again, it seems that science has disproven the hypothetical notions of philosophy.

    "- This is circular reasoning. You're saying that the argument fails because we have no evidence of God, whereas if the argument were true, it would constitute evidence of God (indeed, it would entail his existence). It would be better to argue that the naturalistic paradigm accounts for the moral behavior of humans quite well, thank-you very much, and to deny that there is anything over and above this moral behavior which needs to be explained. Insofar as (2) is plausible, it reduces to the moral behaviors."

    I actually argue both.

    I said that "There is proof that evolution and natural selection has acted upon species and there is evidence of a moral sense." That's what I was implying. Because there is evidence for one, but not the other (god) I think it's only logical to side with the naturalistic theory because that's the only thing that, as you say effectively explains these things, and there is no sense in postulating a cause for something for which you have no evidence for.

    "Actually, I thought the stuff on the teleological argument was quite good."

    Thank you!

    Thanks again, and take care.

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  6. Thank you for your post. Excellent.

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  7. No offense, but that was very long and shallow. I've never read so much with so little actually being said. Anyway, I'll hit some of your holes point by point...Regarding the Cosmological Argument, the examples you give in modern physics concerning supposed events happening "without cause" is completely absurd - of course there is no event that lacks cause. Just because it is not understood yet does not mean it was not caused. Logic and personal experience points to this truth. Also, God being "uncaused" is a part of the definition of "God". The universe being caused is the necessary result of it having a beginning (which is both philosophically and scientifically proven). Speaking of the universe, it cannot have an infinite past because you cannot cross an infinite number of steps to get to the present. "Infinite" is just a theoretical term - it doesn't exist in reality. (Enter your rebuttal: "Well why do you think God is infinite?") God is NOT infinite - He is eternal. Infinite is a measurement of time and eternality means timeless. In essence, God existed before time (once again, this is a part of the definition of God). And Craig does give evidence for this philosophical truth. One example: If you have an infinite library with every other book being red and every other book being blue, and then you remove all of the blue books, how many books do you have left? An infinite number. Case proven - this is absurd in reality; therefore, the universe is not infinite. This is also proven with the expanding universe and the 2nd Law of Therm. Obviously, if the universe is running out of usable energy, it only has a finite amount of usable energy. Your point about the 1st Law proves nothing - energy not being created or destroyed proves nothing concerning causality, because it is a "closed" system. Concerning your rebuttal to fine-tuning, to argue that the universe and the earth is not fine-tuned to sustain life is simply stupid and not worth responding to further (the evidence weighs heavily against such a naive notion). Your argument on Morality is rather amateur. Bringing up Euthyphro does not advance your argument (that's a different matter altogether). Also, denying moral objectivism is popular in culture but fails in the intellectual realm. Torturing babies is wrong. If you believe different, we don't just disagree...you're wrong. Where did this come from. From an Other (once again, this is a part of the definition of "God"). Anyway, disagreeing on the facts (what makes a person) proves nothing. If you think an atom is made of cheese and I think it's made of soup, just because we disagree, that doesn't mean there's no right answer! In short, (and I'm just being straight with you) sound Christian apologetics is about 10 steps ahead of you (and I'm finding this to be true on all atheist blogs). Unfortunately, most people are ignorant, so they tend to think the atheists are the intellectuals. Keep at it.

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  8. Hi Sam,

    No offense, but you clearly didn’t read anything I wrote and you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s an unfortunate pattern that I’ve seen from a majority of theists where they fail to grasp a damn thing you say and ,you are a perfect example of this.

    I contemplated if I should even post your comment since it’s full of nonsense and things I already answered in the above post. But, since you weren’t a complete dick and you are on topic I figured I’d allow it.

    Since I already answered most of your criticisms above I advice you to go back and read what I actually said. This is especially true of your statement that things must happen due to some kind of cause and is ‘logical’ and based on ‘personal experience” and are just the statements I attempted to refute! You didn’t seem to understand a thing I said since the overall theme of the entire paper was that we must go by the evidence, not by pure logic or personal experience alone.

    I also dispute your argument that the very definition of god is something that is “uncaused.” How did you get to this conclusion, because gods are not always uncaused. Many gods throughout history have been born and died so how do you know your god is eternal? Arguing this point is useless since we’re arguing about the attributes of a being that hasn’t even been proven to exist. We might as well be debating how long a Lock Ness monster’s neck is. It’s just pointless.

    As far as things being infinite, as I tried to show, logic fails and science shows us this is possible. Re read my paper.

    I also already refuted your 2ed law argument in the paper already. Did you even read the thing, or just skim it? Horribly at that.

    You say that I simply dismiss the fine-tuning argument by saying that I believe it “is simply stupid and not worth responding to further.” I’d like to know where I said this. Again, did you even read what I wrote? I responded to several of Craig’s specific claims!

    As for your statements about morality,

    “Your argument on Morality is rather amateur. Bringing up Euthyphro does not advance your argument (that's a different matter altogether). Also, denying moral objectivism is popular in culture but fails in the intellectual realm. Torturing babies is wrong. If you believe different, we don't just disagree...you're wrong. Where did this come from. From an Other (once again, this is a part of the definition of "God"). Anyway, disagreeing on the facts (what makes a person) proves nothing. If you think an atom is made of cheese and I think it's made of soup, just because we disagree, that doesn't mean there's no right answer! In short, (and I'm just being straight with you) sound Christian apologetics is about 10 steps ahead of you (and I'm finding this to be true on all atheist blogs). Unfortunately, most people are ignorant, so they tend to think the atheists are the intellectuals. Keep at it.”

    Since you didn’t even begin to answer the argument, not to mention understand it in the first place, go back and read it again.

    But to answer your horribly wrong argument, moral relativism is the only kind of morality that is because it comes from humans being ourselves. There is no external source we get said morality, therefore it is not objective. If christian apologists are “10 steps” ahead of me then why hasn’t anyone been able to successfully answer my arguments?

    So, after looking at your arguments it seems that you are the amateur and the ignorant one. And you apparently can’t read since most of your comments I had already addressed in my paper.

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  9. Oh boy, I have an early morning so let me just mention 7 reasons why your site is ridiculous:

    1) How do people know your website isn't using false scales? Who's to say people haven't refuted you and when you saw this you just didn't post their arguments? Until you do let all comments be posted automatically, people don't have proof that you haven't been disproven as your technological settings avoid immediate accountability.

    2) If your argument is so good, why don't you send your rebuttal of the Kalam to Craig?

    3) You say: "As I said at the end of the last section, due to Craig's many factual and logical errors it is incumbent upon any rational person to embrace the conclusion that if these arguments are seen to be faulty then it stands to reason that there is no evidence of god's existence. Given this fact, it shouldn't take much for a rational individual to further conclude that god is most likely non-existent."

    What an unfortunately irrational point. First off, you left two of the arguments from being really refuted as you admitted. And if disproving them soundly is out of the realm of your expertise then what that means to me is that you don't understand if they really have been properly refuted or you could articulate it in your own words. Thus, there are arguments for God's existence you haven't refuted soundly, thus arguments for God's existence in your face, thus good rational reasons (apart from God's Spirit knocking on the door of your heart if it is not hard) for you to believe God exists; thus you have failed.

    4) Let us now pretend that one day you were even able to refute these arguments. It doesn't logically follow that therefore, God does not exist. All that may follow is that they are not good arguments.

    But so what? It doesn't logically follow that God does not exist.

    5)Further what about people like me who experiences God's manifest presence living inside as he assures me that he is in my heart? That's more than enough reason to believe He exists..He's immediate. It is properly basic.

    6) As experentalists who constantly experience God's manifest presence and miraculous encounters we have another excellent reason to know He exists. I haven't ever been diagnosed as crazy, so there's no good reason for me to believe my experiences are invalid. Sure, my experiences don't prove to YOU that God exists. But they don't have to for ME to KNOW God exists as he assures me this with His spirit.

    7) I still haven't heard your argument for atheism. Or was it something like:

    1) On my website that lacks accountability I can appear to defeat a few of the arguments for God though there is no evidence of this as I won't post everyone's comments, only perhaps, the straw men.

    2) Though I don't get how to really refute some of Craig's arguments I know people that I think can defeat them even though I don't understand what their points are otherwise of course, I could do it.

    3) But instead I will attack Plantinga's Ontological argument saying that it doesn't fulfill Craig's requirements as this is logical because they are the same people!

    4) Therefore! God doesn't exists!!! I'm so smart! WOW!!!

    WOW buddy indeed. Let me know when you take a philosophy course. Or better yet when you respond AND post all of my arguments. I will be stunned if you do. But IF you do: let me know at: markisfamily@yahoo.com

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  10. Wow, never have I read a statement that’s dripping with such hostility. Didn’t have your coffee yet today or what? You’re lucky I even saw your comment because this trash you wrote ended up in the Spam folder and you didn’t even bother to refute one thing I said.

    In answer to 1) Unlike many dishonest Christians I actually allow comments that make good points and argue against me. Hell, I had a long discussion with one Christian about this post a few months ago so I’m not hiding any arguments. I even posted all of his responses to my blog.

    And even comments like yours I often post even if, like you, they sound like an asshole.

    2) If he comes across it he can contact me. I know that James D. Sinclair, who co-authored a chapter in Craig’s book The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, read my exchange with Brennon about these arguments and said nothing about them. I saw his comment on Brennon’s post, so someone to wrote about these arguments has seen these arguments but didn’t respond. Don’t blame me.

    3) What are you talking about not finishing two arguments? Each of his arguments I discussed. The first one called The Cosmological Argument from Contingency where I didn’t bother to cover his other premises? As I explained in my paper I had already shown his first premise to be false so why bother going over his other premises? If you’re referring to Craig’s rebuttal to the oscillating model of the universe and Lee Smolin’s evolutionary cosmology, so what? I had already refuted his main premises and showed that there is no fine-tuning in the universe. Those weren’t central to his argument. I covered each of his premises and showed why they were wrong.

    4) This is a ridiculous complaint because I said that god most likely didn’t exist if all of the so called proofs fail. And drawing such a conclusion from such a lack of evidence isn’t illogical. By your logic we should believe in unicorns just because it could be true. Preposterous.

    5) Your personal experience doesn’t validate anything. Where’s the hard data?

    6) See my comment about number 5.

    7) An argument from ridicule doesn’t do a thing to answer my critique. Atheism is the default position.

    I probably should have just trashed your illogical and rude comment but because of your attitude I wanted to put you in your place.

    For all your nonsense you didn’t answer a single argument I said. What a hypocrite you are.

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  11. Hey. Why haven't you posted my last comment to you that was a response to your last message?
    markisfamily@yahoo.com

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  12. I didn't receive any other messages from you. I even checked the spam folder and nothing was there. If you did reply it did not go through. Blogger has been having issues with posting comments lately. Sorry, but it looks like you’re going to have to retype it. Hopefully Blogger will not screw up again.

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  13. Hello Atheist!

    Congratulations, your post made Craig's list of questions for the week — http://goo.gl/VMLj7 answered by Sinclair.

    What say you?

    Fred W.

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  14. Hmmmm, I am reminded here of Lawrence Krauss' attempts at 'A Universe From Nothing' arguments where he says: "Nothing isn't nothing" at 20:10.

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  15. Just wanted to point out one part: in Craig's #3 argument you said "just because all of your premises are true, it doesn't mean your conclusion is true," if the premises are true and the conclusion logically follows then the conclusion must be true. In the case of Craig's argument you didn't believe his first premise was true which is why you didn't agree with the conclusion. Still basic logic dictates that if the premises are true and the conclusion logically follows then the conclusion must be true(Premise 1: A=B Premise 2:B=C Conclusion A=C, it's just common sense).

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  16. Bizzaropat,

    Yes, I didn’t agree with Craig’s first premise because there was evidence against it, but even if it were true that the universe had a beginning it does not follow logically that a god must have been the cause. That’s what I was pointing out there.

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  17. AA, the Kalam does not, in itself, prove the existence of God. WLC doesn't claim it does but only that it can be used in a cumulative case for theism.

    KevinH

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  18. ArizonaAtheist,

    "According to modern physics, however things can seemingly happen without cause."

    This simply is not true. There are about 12 interpretations of quantum physics, and only half of them are indeterministic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpretations_of_quantum_mechanics#Comparison

    No one know which, if any, of these interpretations will turn out to be correct. But a lot of the motivation of some of them stems from the attempt to preserve the causal principle, i.e. Craigs premise #1.

    Craig brings this up all the time in response to this objection, so I'm surprised you don't mention it.

    Premise 1 has not been defeated by your objection.

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  19. ArizonaAtheist,


    Re: Kalam

    "As I noted in Craig's first argument, despite what we think happens is not always accurate."

    Right, but sometimes it is. It again rests on the causal principle, which seems more likely true than false. Craig is not arguing for 100% mathematical knockdown arguments, here. He is only aiming to make God's existence more plausibly true than false.

    "Given the first law, it would appear to demolish Craig's entire Kalam argument about the universe needing a cause."

    But the first law is a law of the universe and hence, if the universe came into existence, so too did the first law and thus it would not apply to the cause.

    Regardless of all the above, Craig also provides two a priori arguments against an actually existing infinite. In order to know down premise 2, it isn't enough to object to Craig's quoting of Vilenkin, but you also have to show how those two arguments fail as well.

    Re: Moral argument

    "At one time, it was moral to own slaves; even christians justified it by citing the fall of man. Thomas Aquinas accepted slavery because we live in a fallen world, and because of this we must accept this injustice."

    But disagreement does not refute an obective reality, otherwise you could make an argument like this:

    1. If there is disagreement over quantum mechanics, then there is no objectively true theory of quantum mechanics
    2. There is disagreement over quantum mechanics
    3. Therefore, there is no objectively true theory of quantum mechanics

    Clearly, premise 1 is false. So moral disagreement means nothing, either for or against. We could be slowly "discovering" morality as we go, and hence in Aquinas' time they thought slavery was wrong in the same way they though the sun revolved around the earth.

    One way to argue for objective morality is to argue that morality shows signs of progress, just like our understanding of the physical world. We once thought slavery was right, now we know it is wrong. Blacks now have civil rights. Hopefully soon homosexuals will as well.

    Progress, or just change?

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  20. ArizonaAtheist,

    Re: Modal ontological

    "I'd say the premise, that it's possible that a maximally great being exists, could be true however what evidence is there for one?"

    The argument doesn't require evidence at all. It just requires that the concept be logically possible. You just agreed that it's possible, and in so doing the rest of the argument goes through:

    1. It's possible that God exists
    2. If it's possible that God exists, then God exists in some possible world
    3. If God exists in some possible world, then God exists in all possible worlds

    From the concept of a "maximally excellent being." A being like this would be necessary, not contingent, and thus would exist in all possible worlds.

    4. If God exists in all possible worlds then God exists in the actual world
    5. Therefore, God exists

    The argument seems to work, and has the end result of making the probability of God's existence either 0 or 1. Either there is a logical contradiction in the concept and thus God cannot exist, or God must exist. Thus the debate centers around premise 1. And the burden is on the atheist to show a logical contradiction in the concept of God, otherwise the conclusion follows.

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  21. Thanks for the comments Martin.

    About your comments about things occurring without causes your objection doesn’t touch my argument. It’s because simply saying there is more than one interpretation doesn’t prove the interpretation I used was false. I could just as well argue that my interpretation is the correct one.

    About your second objection, I show that the universe didn’t have a cause due to quantum mechanics...not just refuting Craig’s quote about Vilenkin. I show Craig’s arguments fail by showing he is distorting the science that’s been practiced for the last 20 years. He’s only arguing from general relativity when GR can’t tell you how the universe will behave when it was in it’s very tiny, dense state. The equations following from quantum mechanics show that the universe is eternal. A lot of this discussion took place later and not in the post you’re referring but there are links at the end to those discussions.

    Regarding morality, as you said, morality has changed, hence it is relative to the time and place in which you live.

    About the Ontological Argument, I showed that the premises were not true; that there was no evidence for them, and just as Craig argued previously, if the premises are not proven true then the argument fails. But, as I tried to stress in my paper purely philosophical argument for god are pointless. They prove nothing.

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  22. "It’s because simply saying there is more than one interpretation doesn’t prove the interpretation I used was false."

    My point is that the premise is not defeated, but it isn't proven either. The jury is still out on the causal principle. Craig's point is that it is reasonable to accept the causal principle, and hence his conclusion. I agree. But personally, I think it's also reasonable to withhold judgment, which is what I do.

    "He’s only arguing from general relativity when GR can’t tell you how the universe will behave when it was in it’s very tiny, dense state."

    I need to dig more into Kalam, but I'm not so sure about this. Craig publishes responses in peer-reviewed philosophy journals, and he has responded to many objections. Atheist philosophers take it seriously with retorts in the journals as well, and by proxy I too am not willing to just chuck it to the wind.

    Otherwise atheist dogmatism can kind of take hold of you without even realizing it: 'If this argument works, then theism is true. But, duh, theism is false. Therefore there MUST be something wrong with this argument.'

    "morality has changed, hence it is relative to the time and place in which you live."

    So:

    1. Our understanding of the physical world has changed
    2. Hence, it is relative to the time and place in which you live
    3. Therefore, there is no objective physical world

    ????

    Doesn't work.

    Do note that most ethicists believe in objective morality. It isn't that easy to just chuck. Each premise of Craig's moral argument also has a degree of plausibility in it, even if it's difficult to tell if the premises are true or not.

    Premise 1 is related to David Hume's is/ought problem. With materialism, all you have is "is" and hence no "ought." And premise 2, like I said, is supported by most ethicists. Does the argument work? I don't know. Is each premise reasonable to accept? Yes.

    Re: Ontological

    YOu said: "I'd say the premise, that it's possible that a maximally great being exists, could be true however what evidence is there for one?"

    But I responded that for the argument to work, all you need is the possibility of God existing. That's all the modal version requires. You don't need evidence for one. It just needs to be logically possible. S5 modal logic takes over from there.

    If the concept is logically coherent, the rest of the premises follow. You just accepted the possibility that God exists, yet you still deny the conclusion. This is irrationality. The only realistic way out of the argument is to show a logical incoherency in the concept of God.

    I for one do not know if there is a logical incoherency in God or not, and so I withhold judgment. But to refute this argument, as you claim to do, requires you to show that God cannot possibly be exemplified, i.e., he contains a logical contradiction.

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  23. Hi Martin,

    Hmm.. well you just admitted that Craig’s premise isn’t a sure thing. Because it’s not proven, Craig’s conclusion isn’t either.

    I never said there was no morality. It just changes. Your comparison with the world is odd and doesn’t make any sense. Especially since the earth changes just as morality changes over time.

    Like I said, I don’t take any stock in the Ontological arguments. I just did it for fun.

    Sorry for the quick response but I don’t have a lot of time. But I don’t think your arguments necessitated any longer of a response though I’m sorry to say.

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  24. There's a reason you have to use a blog to express your critique. No sort of academic source would ever publish such juvenile philosophical discussion. You do not understand how to argue. I'm not even going to try to demonstrate to you or anyone reading this why your philosophy is laughable. You wouldn't understand. And any readers convinced by you would not understand. In all sincerity, go audit some philosophy classes so that you can actually a make a cogent response to Craig. Right now, it's embarrassing to all us atheists.

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  25. Hi Mr./Ms. Anonymous,

    You claim you’re an atheist but my suspicion is that you’re a disgruntled Christian who’s mad I took apart Craig’s arguments. You didn’t seem to even read what I wrote since the entire premise of the paper was not philosophy but using science to disprove our sometimes (in the case of Christians, oftentimes) faulty conclusions that arise from their armchair philosophizing.

    If you had anything constructive to say my guess is you would have said it in your initial comment and so you’re just blowing smoke about my supposed horrible arguments. If you’re going to leave another comment please say something more constructive, not to mention mature.

    Thanks.

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  26. Interesting rebuttal; just curious if you heard Craig's debate with Sam Harris recently and if so what you thought about their arguments for moral grounding.

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  27. Hi, I heard some of the debate but not all of it so I can't comment. I plan on listening to it later but haven't gotten around to it. I also have Harris' book The Moral Landscape but haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

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  28. You should put all of this into youtube videos, so as to make it more widespread.

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  29. Thanks. Though I doubt I will do that. I’m not very good at making videos and I’m a better writer than speaker, so I don’t think I’d do a very good job of narrating the videos. But if you'd like to spread my arguments by all means link to this post in as many places as you'd like.

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  30. The Big Bang doesn't say the universe came out of nothing. The theory only states that: If the distance between galaxy clusters is increasing today, everything must have been closer together in the past.

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  31. A few points (not my own):

    Kalam rebuttal to
    1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

    If E=MC^2 and the law of conservation of energy is true then (1) is false as stated. Energy does not begin to exist. To be correct the statement should read "Every new instance of energetic transformation has a previous energetic state".

    2. The universe began to exist.

    Time may have begun to exist by the advent of changes to the singularity but that does not mean the universe did not exist in another energetic form (see above). Statement two confuses temporal existence with energetic existence.

    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
    This should read "therefore the universe has a previous state".

    The Achilles Heel of most deist arguments is the concept of time. They do not grasp the implications of something being timeless. As you described timeless things have no causal power. For example the number 13 cannot answer prayers or help you find your car keys. Yet believers constantly make up fantastic statements like "since God exists outside of time he can appear at any time in history whenever he wants". I don't think even an intelligent man like Craig has a handle on the properties of timelessness. Even if there was an out-of-time God, it could only have passively existed at the big bang, neither participating in it or even observing it.


    Objective Morality

    Despite what Sam Harris thinks I cannot think of a single instance of objective morality. The fact that the history of humanity as well as nature itself is rife with every kind of bloody, cruel, merciless, sadistic and strange behavior I can't see where objective morality is stamped into people's souls. Obviously only parents that object to murdering infants get to stay in the gene pool so evolution is doing all the heavy lifting here.

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  32. Paxalot,

    Thanks for your input. I agree. I also agree with you on the issue of relative morality.

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  33. Hello Arizona Atheist. I hope you do not bother if I translate this article into Spanish and posted it on my site about science and skepticism - chileskeptic.cl - obviously including the source; but I did not find your real name on either side of the blog to include you as a direct author.

    I forgot to congratulate you for this good article!

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  34. Hi Daniel, that's fine with me if you'd like to translate the post. My real name is Ken but you can also use my pen name, Arizona Atheist, if you'd like.

    Once you've posted it will you please send me the link? Thank you!

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  35. Hello Ken, I am making the last adjustments to upload this article translated to my website, but I noticed that apparently you have deleted a few paragraphs of section 1 (The Cosmological Argument from Contingency)... Am I right? - I ask because I have those paragraphs in the translation.

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  36. Hi Daniel, yes I ended up deleting a small section that I felt was not needed and hurt the flow of the piece. I'm sorry about that. That's the only change I've made and plan to make. Hopefully it won't be a problem to delete that section from your translation.

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  37. Ok. The translation is loaded. I added a video at the end of each rebuttal. Link: http://www.chileskeptic.cl/argumentos-de-william-lane-craig-a-favor-de-dios-refutados/

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  38. Thank you Daniel. It looks great! I'll be sure to link to your post.

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  39. I translated it so I could read it and I found that you had fortten to delete the section I took out because it was pointless. Would you delete it from your version please? It is this one:

    Una vez más, esto demuestra el punto que estaba tratando de hacer en mi publicación “Against the Gods”. Yo había sostenido que mientras, ”la lógica por sí misma [y por extensión, la filosofía], es extremadamente útil y correcta la mayor parte del tiempo, a veces puede meterte en problemas.”

    Sin embargo, el popular autor de la página web “Common Sense Atheism”, Luke Muehlhauser, comentó sobre esa declaración en mi publicación y dijo:

    Estoy muy en desacuerdo. Has confundido lógica “común” y lógica filosófica. La lógica filosófica rigurosa –también conocida como: argumentos válidos que sólo contienen proposiciones verdaderas –hace en efecto, la conclusión de las proposiciones verdaderas. No así para lo que la gente común entiende por ”lógica”. El argumento:

    1. Una bola de bowling es más pesada que una pluma.
    2. Las cosas más pesadas tienden a caer hacia los objetos masivos más rápidas que los objetos ligeros.
    3. Por lo tanto, incluso si quitamos el aire, una bola de boliche caerá hacia la Tierra más rápido que una pluma.

    Usando la lógica filosófica, este es claramente un argumento inválido. La lógica filosófica no te ha fallado en absoluto.

    Tal vez no me explique tan claro como esperaba, pero a la vez, el me ha malentendido, o el está equivocado. El hecho de que algo es filosóficamente válido o “lógico” no significa que sea cierto. La idea debe ser probada (si es posible) y de acuerdo con la ciencia moderna, la primera premisa de Craig es falsa. Ese fue el punto al que quería llegar. Como Craig declaró por si mismo:

    Ahora, este es un argumento lógicamente invulnerable. Es decir, si las premisas son verdaderas, entonces la conclusión es inevitable. [Énfasis mío]

    De acuerdo con Craig, este es un argumento filosófico válido; es “lógico”. Sin embargo, la afirmación de Craig es demolida a la luz de nuestros descubrimientos científicos.


    Thanks!

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  40. Sorry I forgot it, but i have deleted those paragraphs now.

    This would be only the second Spanish article refuting W.L. Craig!! - that's why 90% of my site are translations from English about atheism, and skepticism in general.

    If you have another good article about atheism (or skepticism in general) let me know please, to translate it later.

    Good Bye

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  41. Daniel,

    No problem. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into translating my post.

    There is one more article I've thought about having translated but it's over 100 pages and I don't know if you'd want to take on that big of a project. The post is my review of The Truth Behind the New Atheism. The reason I've thought about having it translated was because the author has had a Spanish version of his book published earlier this year and I was thinking of having a good Spanish translation of my extensive rebuttal to his book on my blog. I tried to do this through one of the online translation services but they were pretty unreliable at translating the entire document. That's the only other post I have considered having translated. If you'd like to do it I'd be grateful, but if it's too large for you to do I'd completely understand. If you find any other posts you'd like to translate and put on your blog just let me know.

    Thanks again.

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  42. It looks very loooooooong! but compelling and interesting. I understand the problem of translation program, really they are only a support, because they don´t translate correctly some text, you must know the other language to fix the errors.

    I´ll add it to my list of future translations. I'll Let you know when the translation is ready.

    Good Bye again. Take Care.

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  43. AA, can you clarify for me whether or not this quote from Vilenkin was in an email to you or to Stenger: "[I]f someone asks me whether or not the theorem I proved with Borde and Guth implies that the universe had a beginning, I would say that the short answer is "yes". If you are willing to get into subtleties, then the answer is "No, but..." So, there are ways to get around having a beginning, but then you are forced to have something nearly as special as a beginning."

    Also, do you have a copy of the correspondence between Vilenkin and Stenger, or if the quote above was between you and Vilenkin, could you provide a copy of that correspondence?

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  44. Hi Jason,

    The email with that statement was sent to me. And yes I saved all the emails I received between Stenger, Vilenkin, and Carrol. I've taken a screen shot (ie. A picture of my computer screen) of the email if you'd like me to send it to you. Just give me your email and I'll send it. Thanks.

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  45. yes, please do. My email is jasondulle at yahoo.com

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  46. Jason,

    The email has been sent. Out of curiosity, you wouldn't happened to be the Jason Dulle who blogs at Theo-sophical Ruminations are you?

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  47. I received it. Thank you.

    And yes, I would be that Jason Dulle.

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  48. You're welcome. Alright. I had a feeling that was the case. :- ) I'm assuming you're looking to write a response, which is why you wanted my sources? If so, please point me to your response once it's done. Thanks.

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  49. Actually, no. I contacted you because I listened to the Craig v Millican debate in which Craig was quoting from Vilenkin's correspondence to Stenger about the G-B-V theorem. I was looking for the letter online to read it for myself, and was directed to your site.

    While I was hoping for the full letter, all I've been able to find are snippets. What piqued my interest and caused me to reach out to you was that part of what Craig quoted from Vilenkin you indicated as being part of Vilenkin's response to you, rather than part of his response to Stenger. Craig's quotation had led me to think that everything he quoted was from a single piece of correspondence to Stenger himself. That's why I asked for clarification to make sure I was understanding you correctly. And having your screen shot will allow me to make this clear for anyone else who may have misunderstood Craig as well. I appreciate your quick response and willingness to provide me with the email.

    Jason

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  50. No problem. Most of the conversation between Stenger, Vilenkin, and Carrol that I have saved is in Stenger's new book, The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning. After the initial discussion between the above scientists I contacted Vilenkin asking what his opinion was about some arguments that use the second law of thermodynamics to argue against an eternal universe, which was what I sent you yesterday.

    Take care.

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  51. You say: "According to modern physics, however things can seemingly happen without cause. There are several things we observe that appear to have no cause. For example, "[w]hen an atom in an excited energy level drops to a lower level and emits a photon, a particle of light, we find no cause of that event. Similarly, no cause is evident in the decay of a radioactive nucleus."

    First of all, just because science doesn't know the cause of these events, doesn't mean there is none. Secondly, I'm not a physicist, but it seems like both of these events involve entropy, which is a known cause of the decline in energy states. Thirdly, the whole point of the premise is to discuss the cause of the universe. The universe includes all of nature. So if you say that certain things can happen without a cause, are you saying the universe just popped into being from nothing without a cause? If not, why did you bring up your objection? It's irrelevant. If so, then you are asserting a miracle (the universe popped into being uncaused), which is disallowed in atheism, and therefore self-contradictory.

    You then state: "[Theologians] contradict themselves and claim their god is infinite and has always existed, though they can never articulate 'where' their god was or 'what' he was doing the eternity before he just happened to create this universe." How can their god not need a cause, but the universe must?!

    This is an illogical statement. You use the term "before" (what was God doing before...) to describe a state of existence before time existed. That's an incoherent concept, like a married bachelor, or a square circle. Time came into existence with the universe - science teaches that. So there cannot be a temporal cause for anything prior to the creation of the universe. That's why Craig calls God "timeless". I realize this is difficult to conceptualize. However, the shape of the universe also is difficult to conceptualize, but science forces us to accept it nonetheless. Science teaches that the universe is expanding, including space. What is it expanding into? How can space expand into space? We can't conceive of that, but it's scientifically true, nonetheless. Similarly, the expansion of the universe is likened to a balloon, not a sphere. It has no "center". That also is difficult conceptually, yet science demands that we accept it.

    You say that an infinite universe is possible, but you don't provide any evidence. Craig provides arguments in his statements "since the series of past events has obviously elapsed, the number of past events must be finite", and "The Second Law of Thermodynamics predicts that in a finite amount of time, the universe will grind down to a cold, dark, dilute, and lifeless state. But if it has already existed for infinite time, the universe should now be in such a desolate condition. Scientists have therefore concluded that the universe must have begun to exist a finite time ago and is now in the process of winding down."

    You provide no refutation of these statements. You mention quantum tunneling, but this requires "something" to exist first, i.e., a quantum energy field. You first have to give us a cause of how that came into existence. You also mention contraction prior to the big bang, but recent discoveries show that the rate of expansion of the universe is increasing, not decreasing, which would be required for such an oscillating model. So this is highly improbable. Even if true, it wouldn't get around the impossibility of an actual infinite.

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  52. Part 2

    You say that since matter cannot be created or destroyed, this demolishes Craig's argument about the universe coming into existence in the first place. But this law of thermodynamics only applies to an existing universe. In the absence of a universe, there ARE no laws of thermodynamics. We are talking about how the universe itself came into existence. You can't appeal to a law that did not exist before the big bang creation event.

    You mention Vilenkin's "pocket universes". This is speculation for one thing - there is no evidence for it. Secondly, it does not get around the impossibility of an actually infinite series of past events. You may think your evidence for an infinite universe is plausible, but actually it's impossible. And in addition, remember what defines a good argument: that the premises are more plausible than their negation. You have to show that your quantum tunneling, pocket universes, expansion and contraction, or whatever it is that you postulate, is not just theoretically possible, but MORE plausible than the existence of a necessary, uncaused, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, personal Creator of the universe. You haven't done that.

    Morality

    You say you don't believe in objective morality, but you haven't explained why all humans act as though they believe there is objective morality. A Nazi can argue that for mankind to evolve, we must rid the gene pool of Jews, who are sub-human, and we must euthanize the elderly "worthless eaters", and sterilize the "mentally defective", who don't contribute to society, but rather are a drag on it. He may come up with logical, reasonable arguments for his positions, but we all know that what he is advocating is morally wrong. But on what basis is it morally wrong? If we are just the accidental products of evolution, why does life have the dignity we all know it has? Why don't we just "purify" the gene pool to make evolution more efficient?

    You appeal to the immorality of the Bible or the behavior of some Christians as evidence that God is not good by nature. But your arguments actually prove Craig's point, because you are asserting that immorality and morality exists. But you still need to show on what basis you can assert that. Just asserting it means nothing. You say that "If god is all good, then that stands to reason that god wouldn't have placed a selfish morality inside his creations; only one of total compassion for everyone and everything." You have a shallow understanding of God's purposes. Who are you, a finite being, to assert you know that it doesn't make sense for the infinite, omniscient creator to give mankind free will, to choose to do good or evil? You just assert that without examining the flaws in the free will argument.

    Fine Tuning

    You say fine-tuning implies design, so Craig is contradicting himself. You don't refute his distinction in terminology, in fact you say they're the same thing. But you need to show why his argument is circular - you can't just assert it.

    You say that some scientists say the universe is not all that improbable after all, and the parameters could be changed by orders of magnitude and it wouldn't make any difference. This is not the consensus of most scientists. Even Dawkins admits to the fine-tuning. Remember again, the premise only needs to be more likely than its negation for us to accept it. You haven't demonstrated that fine-tuning is less plausible than its negation.

    You again bring up "something out of nothing", quoting Hawking. That's magic and miracle, which are contrary to atheism, and contrary to science, but you don't recognize it. You are being very selective in what you believe - applying it to Christian claims like the virgin birth or the Resurrection (I would imagine you do, anyway), but not to the origin of the universe. That's inconsistent.

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  53. You use the fallacy, "After all, if the parameters were not as they were we wouldn't be here to discuss them anyhow! This hardly implies any sort of design". Craig has refuted this reasoning. He says: "From the fact that we can observe only life-permitting universes, it doesn't follow that no explanation is needed for why there IS a life-permitting universe - why it does exist. An illustration can help us see the point. Imagine that you're traveling abroad in some third-world country, and you're arrested on trumped-up drug charges, and convicted. And you're dragged in front of a firing squad of a hundred trained marksmen, all with rifles aimed at your heart, to be executed. And you hear the command given, 'Ready, aim, fire!' And you hear the deafening roar of the guns. And then, you observe that you're still alive! That all of the one hundred marksmen missed! Now - what would you conclude? 'Well, I guess I really shouldn't be surprised that they all missed. After all, if they hadn't all missed, I wouldn't be here to be surprised about it. Given that I'm here, I should have expected them all to miss.' Well of course not. You would immediately suspect that they all missed on purpose. That the whole thing was a setup, engineered by someone, for some reason. From the fact that you shouldn't be surprised that you don't observe that you're dead, it doesn't follow that you shouldn't be surprised that you do observe that you're alive. Do you see the point? You shouldn't be surprised that you don't observe that you're dead. You can't observe that. But it doesn't follow from that that you shouldn't be surprised that you do observe that you are alive, in light of the enormous improbability of their all missing by accident. You would think that this event was brought about not by chance, but by design.

    You assert that intelligent design from the biological sciences, is a failure. But you don't provide any reason for believing this. Darwinism cannot act until there are self-replicating organisms that natural selection can act upon. But even the simplest self-replicating cell is at least as complex a system as any large city, especially with regard to the "computer code" of DNA. The more time goes on, the more complexity is revealed. There is no good evidence to show that such a system can arise spontaneously from dissolved rocks. Again, arguments are based on the best explanation, not proof. Chemical "evolution" of the first life form is hardly a convincing argument.

    I'm not going to refute your "refutation" of the ontological argument. I don't fully understand it, and everyone agrees it's the weakest argument anyway. I'll add that to my "to do" list.

    In conclusion, your refutations are weak and unconvincing.

    Best regards,

    Ari Goldberg

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  54. Hi Ari, thank for the comment. Let's see if your responses past muster shall we?

    First of all, just because science doesn't know the cause of these events, doesn't mean there is none. Secondly, I'm not a physicist, but it seems like both of these events involve entropy, which is a known cause of the decline in energy states. Thirdly, the whole point of the premise is to discuss the cause of the universe. The universe includes all of nature. So if you say that certain things can happen without a cause, are you saying the universe just popped into being from nothing without a cause? If not, why did you bring up your objection? It's irrelevant. If so, then you are asserting a miracle (the universe popped into being uncaused), which is disallowed in atheism, and therefore self-contradictory.

    It is a possibility that science may find a cause for the two examples I gave. However, at this point there is no apparent cause, therefore, Craig is wrong. At least for now. I feel that your other objection is pointless since you didn't refute my argument about the lack of causes for some events. Either way, even if there were a cause for these events and the universe turns out not to be eternal, this doesn't necessitate a god. That's highly presumptuous of theists to assume this.

    My objection is very relevant since Craig argues that everything needs a cause (except his god, of course, which is a contraction). By citing these events it effectively refutes Craig's main premise.

    The universe may not need a cause and it may have come from "nothing." See below.

    You then state: "[Theologians] contradict themselves and claim their god is infinite and has always existed, though they can never articulate 'where' their god was or 'what' he was doing the eternity before he just happened to create this universe." How can their god not need a cause, but the universe must?!

    This is an illogical statement. You use the term "before" (what was God doing before...) to describe a state of existence before time existed. That's an incoherent concept, like a married bachelor, or a square circle. Time came into existence with the universe - science teaches that. So there cannot be a temporal cause for anything prior to the creation of the universe. That's why Craig calls God "timeless". I realize this is difficult to conceptualize. However, the shape of the universe also is difficult to conceptualize, but science forces us to accept it nonetheless. Science teaches that the universe is expanding, including space. What is it expanding into? How can space expand into space? We can't conceive of that, but it's scientifically true, nonetheless. Similarly, the expansion of the universe is likened to a balloon, not a sphere. It has no "center". That also is difficult conceptually, yet science demands that we accept it.


    An illogical statement? Not at all. I'm simply pointing out some inconsistencies with theists' arguments. If the big bang is the expansion of time and space itself then where was god in all this if there were no space or time for him to exist in order to create the universe?

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  55. You say that an infinite universe is possible, but you don't provide any evidence. Craig provides arguments in his statements "since the series of past events has obviously elapsed, the number of past events must be finite", and "The Second Law of Thermodynamics predicts that in a finite amount of time, the universe will grind down to a cold, dark, dilute, and lifeless state. But if it has already existed for infinite time, the universe should now be in such a desolate condition. Scientists have therefore concluded that the universe must have begun to exist a finite time ago and is now in the process of winding down."

    I do in fact provide evidence. Please see my footnotes and explanations in the text. I also refuted the second law argument in the post.

    You provide no refutation of these statements. You mention quantum tunneling, but this requires "something" to exist first, i.e., a quantum energy field. You first have to give us a cause of how that came into existence. You also mention contraction prior to the big bang, but recent discoveries show that the rate of expansion of the universe is increasing, not decreasing, which would be required for such an oscillating model. So this is highly improbable. Even if true, it wouldn't get around the impossibility of an actual infinite.

    Yes, in my subsequent research I've found that this oscillating model is likely not the correct explanation for the universe. I agree. Of course, this would not rule out an infinite universe, with certain quantum events causing the universe to come into existence.


    You say that since matter cannot be created or destroyed, this demolishes Craig's argument about the universe coming into existence in the first place. But this law of thermodynamics only applies to an existing universe. In the absence of a universe, there ARE no laws of thermodynamics. We are talking about how the universe itself came into existence. You can't appeal to a law that did not exist before the big bang creation event.

    I was referring to the fact that since matter cannot be created or destroyed then this law tells us the universe is eternal since according to it, matter cannot be created, then it must just exist forever, but only in different forms.

    You mention Vilenkin's "pocket universes". This is speculation for one thing - there is no evidence for it. Secondly, it does not get around the impossibility of an actually infinite series of past events. You may think your evidence for an infinite universe is plausible, but actually it's impossible. And in addition, remember what defines a good argument: that the premises are more plausible than their negation. You have to show that your quantum tunneling, pocket universes, expansion and contraction, or whatever it is that you postulate, is not just theoretically possible, but MORE plausible than the existence of a necessary, uncaused, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, personal Creator of the universe. You haven't done that.

    I find this argument funny. First of all, no one has proven god exists so using a god to explain the universe is what is illogical. Second, these various models of the universe are trying to explain the universe. Sure, they are theoretical, but they are consistent with all the data we have about the universe, and are much more likely to be true, unlike an entirely unproven entity like a god.

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  56. Morality

    You say you don't believe in objective morality, but you haven't explained why all humans act as though they believe there is objective morality. A Nazi can argue that for mankind to evolve, we must rid the gene pool of Jews, who are sub-human, and we must euthanize the elderly "worthless eaters", and sterilize the "mentally defective", who don't contribute to society, but rather are a drag on it. He may come up with logical, reasonable arguments for his positions, but we all know that what he is advocating is morally wrong. But on what basis is it morally wrong? If we are just the accidental products of evolution, why does life have the dignity we all know it has? Why don't we just "purify" the gene pool to make evolution more efficient?


    I linked to my explanation. I said that one can use basic concepts, like a social contract, to create a binding moral system as one example. Just because morality is relative doesn't mean we can't have a standard of morality for all people. I also think that some aspects of morality are biological, which is partly a cause of this similar morality around the globe (though there are exceptions).


    You appeal to the immorality of the Bible or the behavior of some Christians as evidence that God is not good by nature. But your arguments actually prove Craig's point, because you are asserting that immorality and morality exists. But you still need to show on what basis you can assert that. Just asserting it means nothing. You say that "If god is all good, then that stands to reason that god wouldn't have placed a selfish morality inside his creations; only one of total compassion for everyone and everything." You have a shallow understanding of God's purposes. Who are you, a finite being, to assert you know that it doesn't make sense for the infinite, omniscient creator to give mankind free will, to choose to do good or evil? You just assert that without examining the flaws in the free will argument.

    I just explained how I view morality. And who are you, another finite being, to know that this was god speaking to these people? Which people do you think god was actually talking to? The people who did good, or bad things? Whichever answer you choose, how do you know since you're also a finite being and doesn't know god's plan?

    Your rebuttal doesn't touch my argument since I was attempting to refute Craig's bald assertion that god is all good. How does Craig know this? He doesn't, and I explained why.

    Fine Tuning

    You say fine-tuning implies design, so Craig is contradicting himself. You don't refute his distinction in terminology, in fact you say they're the same thing. But you need to show why his argument is circular - you can't just assert it.

    You say that some scientists say the universe is not all that improbable after all, and the parameters could be changed by orders of magnitude and it wouldn't make any difference. This is not the consensus of most scientists. Even Dawkins admits to the fine-tuning. Remember again, the premise only needs to be more likely than its negation for us to accept it. You haven't demonstrated that fine-tuning is less plausible than its negation.


    First, I was pointing out the fact that Craig was seemingly trying to distance himself from the intelligent design proponents by arguing that by “fine-tuning” he was not implying that this was due to “design.” Then he goes on to make an argument from design! That's why it's a contradiction.

    Second, Dawkins is not a physicist, and you have failed to make any case that there is any fine-tuning in the universe when all the data says otherwise.

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  57. You again bring up "something out of nothing", quoting Hawking. That's magic and miracle, which are contrary to atheism, and contrary to science, but you don't recognize it. You are being very selective in what you believe - applying it to Christian claims like the virgin birth or the Resurrection (I would imagine you do, anyway), but not to the origin of the universe. That's inconsistent.

    Actually, you need to read Lawrence Krauss' book A Universe from Nothing, which explains this. I also find it amazing that you're objecting to a “miracle” (though, that's not what I'm doing) when your entire belief system rests on them.

    You use the fallacy, "After all, if the parameters were not as they were we wouldn't be here to discuss them anyhow! This hardly implies any sort of design". Craig has refuted this reasoning. He says: "From the fact that we can observe only life-permitting universes, it doesn't follow that no explanation is needed for why there IS a life-permitting universe - why it does exist. An illustration can help us see the point. Imagine that you're traveling abroad in some third-world country, and you're arrested on trumped-up drug charges, and convicted. And you're dragged in front of a firing squad of a hundred trained marksmen, all with rifles aimed at your heart, to be executed. And you hear the command given, 'Ready, aim, fire!' And you hear the deafening roar of the guns. And then, you observe that you're still alive! That all of the one hundred marksmen missed! Now - what would you conclude? 'Well, I guess I really shouldn't be surprised that they all missed. After all, if they hadn't all missed, I wouldn't be here to be surprised about it. Given that I'm here, I should have expected them all to miss.' Well of course not. You would immediately suspect that they all missed on purpose. That the whole thing was a setup, engineered by someone, for some reason. From the fact that you shouldn't be surprised that you don't observe that you're dead, it doesn't follow that you shouldn't be surprised that you do observe that you're alive. Do you see the point? You shouldn't be surprised that you don't observe that you're dead. You can't observe that. But it doesn't follow from that that you shouldn't be surprised that you do observe that you are alive, in light of the enormous improbability of their all missing by accident. You would think that this event was brought about not by chance, but by design.

    This argument of Craig's is ridiculous. First off, we know why there is life on this planet. It is neither too hot nor too cold. The surrounding planetary bodies shield the earth from most comets, and the core of the earth creates a electromagnetic shield to protect against radiation from the sun. These are some of the reasons why life is on this planet, but the universe as a whole is not really friendly to life.

    Second, it is true that if humans were not here we would not be here to observe the universe and ask “why” to begin with. If he is referring to the origin of life itself then this is just another god of the gaps argument and is illogical since it's jumping the gun by asserting that god was needed to create life when all the answers aren't even in yet. Answers are coming so I think it's another example of presumptuousness on the part of theists to say “god did it” when it comes to the origin of life.

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  58. You assert that intelligent design from the biological sciences, is a failure. But you don't provide any reason for believing this. Darwinism cannot act until there are self-replicating organisms that natural selection can act upon. But even the simplest self-replicating cell is at least as complex a system as any large city, especially with regard to the "computer code" of DNA. The more time goes on, the more complexity is revealed. There is no good evidence to show that such a system can arise spontaneously from dissolved rocks. Again, arguments are based on the best explanation, not proof. Chemical "evolution" of the first life form is hardly a convincing argument.

    Every single example of supposed fine-tuning in biology has been shown to be false. This is why most theists have moved on to the “problem” of consciousness, or the alleged fine-tuning of the universe itself for their arguments for god. It seems even theologians have admitted defeat on the 'biological design' front.

    In conclusion, your refutations are weak and unconvincing.

    I'm sorry but you haven't demonstrated this in the least.

    Thanks.

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  59. Nice blog.

    I've listened to Craig's arguments and simply cannot believe that such a flawed mix of pseudo-science and frankly incorrect logical reasoning is given serious consideration.

    The late, great Douglas Adams put it brilliantly: "... imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact, it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the Sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be all right, because this World was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise."

    As for the universe appearing by chance, one cannot argue the case of probability on events that have already happened. If I may plagiarise again, DoctorBadSign's blog makes an excellent point:
    "Finally, the odds against William Lane Craig ever being born are so astronomically high, that it cannot possibly ever have happened. There are around 300,000,000 sperm in every ejaculation – the odds that the particular sperm that resulted in Bill one the race are 1 in 300 million, but it doesn’t stop there, what are the odds that his parents would have met each other (and that both his grand father’s sperm would have resulted in his mother and father, again that’s 1 in 300 million)? And their parents before that, and so on all the way back to the dawn of life on this planet. The existence of William Lane Craig requires so many vastly improbable things to occur that the odds against it are astronomical, therefore we can conclude that William Lane Craig cannot ever have come into existence."

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  60. Oh yes, forgot to add that when debating, you'll notice that Craig's contentions invariably are:
    1. That God cannot be disproved
    Try and disprove Santa Clause. Let's examine the evidence: Millions believe in him, there are been innumerable reported sightings of him, and he is based on an historical figure. Attempting to disprove God is a trap, you are drawn into the logical fallacy of irrefutability which cannot be used as a tool for argument.

    2. That Atheism cannot be shown to be true.
    Atheism isn't a belief system. It requires no belief. Atheists are convinced that there is no god, which is quite a different stance from that of needing a belief.

    By the way, for the record, I used to believe in God myself. At least in the sense that "well of course, doesn't everybody?". Gradually, I realised that this was an arbitrary accident, and if I had been born in in medieval Scandinavia I would have probably believed in Thor, or Allah in modern day middle east, and so on. Furthermore, all religions cannot possibly be right. This is clearly impossible. In reality, they're all wrong. The final straw was listening to a radio show in the car when a religious figure explained that the church had changed its stance on 'Limbo'. It dawned on me that they were just making it up as they went along.

    Peace.

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  61. Thanks for the comments Anonymous. I completely agree with you. Thanks for stopping by! Take care.

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  62. There seems to be only one way out of this dilemma, and that’s to say that the cause of the universe’s beginning is a personal agent who freely chooses to create a universe in time. Philosophers call this type of causation “agent causation,” and because the agent is free, he can initiate new effects by freely bringing about conditions that were not previously present.
    The other way out of this "dilemma" is that the Universe - like that God entity - is not contingent but necessary (and the beginning not a "real" one but an arbitrary point that we recognize as having certain characteristics - similar to God not having a beginning). I am missing something?

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  63. Mr./Ms. Anonymous,

    Pretty nutty isn't it, what Craig said? I think you summed it up nicely.

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  64. Regarding the moral argument, why does everyone think that you need to go through the trouble of refuting his arguments for the two premises?
    I think it would be a far simpler way to show that by virtue of its construction, Craig's moral argument fails theoretically. I would appreciate it if you gave me your opinions on this:

    Original argument:
    1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
    2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
    3. Therefore, God exists.


    1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

    Let's consider, for the sake of discussion, that this premise is true.
    This is logically equivalent to 1A:"God's existence is a NECESSARY condition for objective moral values and duties to exist"
    So the logical relationship between 1 and 1A is 1<->1A and therefore !1A<->!1

    2.Objective moral values and duties do exist.

    In order to attempt to prove that premise 2 is true, theoretically you have the following four options:

    a)You have an independent, prior argument, that shows "God exists" to be true, in which case this argument is redundant for obvious reasons.

    b)You attempt to prove premise 2 via logical reasoning, without relying on the truth value of the sentence "God exists". If you succeed in doing this, you have also successfully proven that the existence of God is completely irrelevant in this matter.(ie: Objective moral values and duties do exist, with or without God's existence.
    In this case you automatically negate 1A and therefore you invalidate premise 1 ( !1A->!1). This renders the argument unsound.

    c)You attempt to prove premise 2 via experiment, but I don't think that this is really an option here.

    d)you do not prove premise 2, which also renders the argument unsound.

    My English is by no means on an academic level and I'll be happy to supply further explanations if required.
    Also I would like to know what kind of objections do you think can be made from the theist's point of view to the above.

    Thank you !

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  65. Arizona Atheist, what a wonderful refutation of WLC, the sophist!
    Skeptic Griggsy

    Here lie some of my blogs to which you and others might contribute. Please vet my arguments should you read them!
    http://fraudsway.wordpress.com
    http://fraudways.wordpress.com
    http://moralalley.wordpress.com
    http://morallane.wordpress.com
    http://carnedes.blogspot.com
    http:// forgedbible.blogspot.com

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  66. Thanks for the post - although I agree with a few above that it can be much shortened and therefore tightened for blog consumption.

    The difficulty with KCA resides in that it's often stated much more strongly than its argument actually make out - that Craig appeals on authority but cherry pick his choice of science to prove his own point while ignoring that it's not a foregone conclusion. Although his handle on cosmology makes it hard for most laymen to debate with him on this point.

    But as you said, even if all those are true - it doesn't prove that it's his God that created the Universe. It could have been mine.

    I do want to visit your point on objective morality. I agree with you that morality changes with time, but I am not sure if there isn't an universal standard that exists. Because you can certainly find examples of things that are pretty much agreed upon across time/space, such as "thou shall not steal". So - are you arguing that there isn't an objective morality period? or are you arguing that it need not be derived from God?

    For an example of an objective morality - I'll volunteer Utilitarianism as an candidate. I believe it jives well with natural forces.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mr./Ms. Anonymous,

      Thanks for reading! I believe that it's a little bit of both. I see a mostly relative morality throughout history, since morality has changed over time. Because it changes, certain moral facts can't be universal. However, I do agree that there are several universals that do span across cultures and time. Michael Shermer lists many of these in his book The Science of Good and Evil on pages 285-292. However, even many of these so-called “universals” have been discarded by certain societies, such as murder. Child and human sacrifice used to be a norm in many early societies. I don't think it's possible to say that morality is either/or universal or relative. I think it's both, with relativity having a bit of a lead.

      But I suppose it also depends on how you define “universal.” I define it as “Of, relating to, extending to, or affecting the entire world or all within the world; worldwide.” But many people might use a different definition: “Knowledgeable about or constituting all or many subjects; comprehensively broad.” Under this second definition I'd have to say that universal morality reigns because it doesn't apply to every society throughout all time as in the first definition. I've always thought of universal is more accurately defined by the first definition, so that is why I view morality in the way I do.

      Personally, I've always taken a liking to the social contract. I agree with Daniel Dennett's critique of Utilitarianism in that it wasn't practical because it asks you to do too much calculation before making a decision for it to be effective in the real world of moral dilemmas (see Chapter 17 in Darwin's Dangerous Idea). I would also consider Utilitarianism relative, not objective, since each person would naturally calculate different moral dilemmas in different ways. It would be relative depending upon each person's subjective views on a moral matter.

      Delete
    2. I see - the way I define Universal is probably less rigorous than yours, but the way I see morality is "how one will handle oneself with others"; i.e. more of a principle rather than a set of rules. So I see Utilitarianism as a good set of principle.

      In practice I disagree it's not practical, as most do calculate rather effortlessly. It's surprising how automatically people run toward pleasure and away from pain. But I do agree with you to that most people actually do not maximize correctly; i.e. they maximize immediate gain even if they end up with long term loss. To maximize for long term - it is difficult for most indeed.

      And good point on Utilitarianism being relative rather than objective - I thought it as objective as being that's a set of human behavior that can be objectively verified to be in use. But agree that from individual's perspective it's applied relatively.

      And I like social contract as well - agree that's a good set of principle too.


      Delete
  67. Hi, fantastic and fascinating blog! Would it be possible to see a copy of the emails cited in [3]? Thanks!

    Dave

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  68. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for reading! Unfortunately, I recently changed my email address, forgot about the emails I had saved on the account, and I lost them. But don't worry. The vast majority of the discussion has been copied in Victor Stenger's book The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning, pgs. 127-132. I can verify that the emails are accurate and all the relevant ones are there.

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  69. Just a collection of lies of one nutty professor.

    ReplyDelete

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