Can you tell me what exactly you find ridiculous?
I agree. What happens to causality in the absence of a time-like dimension is hard to understand. Also, if our universe was derived some something else, we don’t have time-like correspondence with that something else.
If one denies the reality or possible reality of God there is no point to any discussion.
I don’t see how nothing is hard to understand. No time means nothing. 0 times 0 = 0. Nothing can be simpler.
The universe was not derived out of something physical. It emerged out of the spiritual and rational, which are not material. .
It would be better to say that if the universe had a beginning that the cause would be transcendent.
Sure, but first a little background for me.
I have a PhD in Physics, but only a specific subfield of Physics- Biophysics. And within that subfield of Biophysics, I can really only read certain papers with any kind of expertise. Here is a paper for example that I wrote which only applies to a small sliver of this subfield: my small sliver of expertise.
Now, I teach several cosmology courses at the undergraduate level so had to become a ‘functional expert’ of sorts that understood the ins and outs of cosmology but one thing that always tripped me up was trying to read scientific papers in the field. I’m not talking about basic ideas and evidences for the current best model (the Big Bang Model), but leading edge new research papers. Like here is a sample paper: Planck 2015 results: Constraints on Inflation. To be honest, I don’t even really understand the abstract very well. I know the significance of a few of those measurements, but not all of them or in any great depth. This is a very important measurement for various models of inflation (which has some strong implications for if there is a multiverse).
Okay so on to his rebuttal and why I said it was ridiculous.
- Here is a non-scientist who is trying to make his case for how the universe began.
- His case is we have no explanation therefore transcendent God.
- He makes a non-point of Sean Carrol’s model of the early universe. So what if Sean’s model is wrong, Sean himself knows it isn’t the ultimate model. If it was an accurate model, Sean would have a Nobel prize. Sean does not have a Nobel prize. Therefore, it isn’t the ultimate scientific explanation. Sean is just one of many who has published on the topic but by no means does his model mean that we will never have a scientific model.
- He really tries to uses theorems (and accurately too) to support his viewpoint (that are extremely technical and only apply to certain physical scenarios). But to be honest, I don’t think the work of most apologists is in the matter of really investigating all sides and then determining what is true in a bottom up approach to truth. Their version of reality is the truthTM. It’s like those apologetics documentaries that hear what the actual scholars say, and then hear a minority viewpoint or one that isn’t even scientific or academic and with their non-expertise conclude the pseudoscientific or pseudoachaelogical truth is the correct one. Does anyone really think WLC looking into deep spacetime theorems and cosmogony papers is going to find anything other than knock out proof of Christianity.
A real scientist that’s Chriatian and his approach
He was ‘surprised’ that Sean Carrol was not familiar with Wall’s theorem. Aron Wall has a blog, is a really bright guy, is a Christian, and is now on his third postdoc in Astrophysics. Aron has also written for BioLogos: https://biologos.org/author/aron-wall.
Aron has a very nice series summarizing a lot of the same topics we’ve looked at here: http://www.wall.org/~aron/blog/did-the-universe-begin-x-recap/.
On this one page of Aron’s blog he summarizes what we do know from science quite nicely as a good scientist would:
Now, let me make another observation about the tire swing. Although the weight of the evidence is that the universe probably had some sort of beginning—and even more likely that there was some sort of low entropy “initial condition” even if geometrically time stretches past before that—this cannot be said to be certain. There is always the possibility that new scientific data or methods could radically change our picture of the very, very early universe. Similarly, while a finite past seems more in accordance with traditional Christian theology than an infinite past, there appears to be no strictly logical connection between the two ideas, once the act of Creation is viewed in a more timeless, “authorial” way. Thus one might conceivably have a theist who thinks time is infinite, or an atheist who thinks time was finite.
So again, if anyone really wants to learn about science, go learn from real scientists like Aron or Sean Carrol!
Thank you for the amazing reply!
In case I wasn’t sufficiently clear, my point was that Craig makes a logical argument for God’s existence. If for whatever reason one has already accepted that God exists, then the argument becomes unnecessary. However, it could still have some use for convincing others, etc. But you seem to have said that it is impossible for us to have this or any other discussion, so is all this talk superfluous?
I agree that scientists are the people to explain science; what I find ridiculous is those without any theological understanding seem to venture into theology and what God must or must not do, while adding to the often ridiculous statements with the all encompassing, “the evidence show so and so …”
This comment is not meant to detract from your useful response, nor imply that you are a self-made theologian.
Interesting opinion. I’m far from sure it’s well supported from any current understanding of physics or even a consiatent metaphysics but it’s certainly an opinion a person could have.
I don’t see how nothing is hard to understand. No time means nothing. 0 times 0 = 0. Nothing can be simpler.
I don’t think you quite understand how ‘zero’ works in this context. Zero is a number that has some non-common sense effects, like infinities do, as in what happens when someone tries to divide something by zero. When a dimension like ‘t’ goes to zero, or when spatial-temporal dimensions approach values of zero, the math of our physics goes “bonkers” (‘bonkers’ == undefined). It’s not like zero occupies a spot on the numberline we were taught in elementary school math. It’s that our physical theories can’t tell us what things actually happen at ‘zero’. Thus, at t=0, we don’t necessary have energy = 0 or space = 0, or anything you’ve casually assumed happen. We may not even have a coordinate like ‘t=0’ that makes sense in current theories. It’s not simple at all. What we’ve got is this spot or area where the result is ‘undefined’. And undefined is not ‘zero’. It’s we don’t know.
I think you can be a theist and even a Christian and believe this. @MarkD noted 6 different types of belief in this sort of a thing on another thread recently and the Genesis term “tohu wa bohu” (formless and void) with chaotic waters, I think, and even implies a preexistence which was with God at one point. It is something I am more comfortable with than the kalam argument.
I have looked at a lot of arguments for the existence of God. I don’t think any of them have objective validity. Many are derived from subjective reasons for believing in God and the addition of a lot of words has never managed to change those subjective reasons into something objective. Just because something is true doesn’t mean an argument or proof of this thing is valid or sound.
But few arguments are as bad as this kalam argument. Only the moral argument is more contemptible. The best argument I know of is one by Charles Sanders Pierce called, “The Neglected Argument for the Existence of God.” And I think it is because it gets a handle on the subjective nature of the choice to believe.
The kalam argument:
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause. I see no reason to accept this premise.
- The universe began to exist. The evidence certainly suggests that the physical universe that we can see and measure did indeed come into existence 13.8 billion years ago. But why even talk about the universe when you are trying to prove the existence of God? Is there a hidden premise here that the universe should be equated with everything that exists other than whatever it is you want to say is the cause of its existence?
- Therefore the universe has a cause. Few would dispute that the observable universe which began 13.8 billion years ago has a cause. The dispute is over the nature and identity of this cause.
-1. This is not even an argument for the existence of God, for this is not the conclusion of the argument. Thus anybody can refute this as an argument for existence of God by suggesting a different cause for the universe as has been done many times.
-2. The first premise practically makes the argument circular. Suppose I made the following argument.
A. Everything with a name exists.
B. My imaginary friend has a name.
C. Therefore my imaginary friend exists.
Thus you can see the circularity in stating the first premise.
-3. The hidden premise in the second premise also makes the argument circular. If the universe is the only thing which exists, then the only cause could be something which no longer exists. If things exist other than the universe and the thing you want to prove is its cause, then why could those other things not be the cause of the universe? Thus when you presume that the only thing other than the universe which is exists is God, then you are introducing a circularity there.
That says it better than I could have. Thanks.
I enjoyed reading much of Pierce.
Okay, my interest is pricked but I can’t find this on the internet. Google gives me a half dozen returns and when I searched it in wiki about the same with one of them being something else you had written back in October. I wonder if this might be an article it would interest Biologos to make available as one of its resources?
Can you comment on the moral argument? Thanks.
Got it. Thanks. (My internet game is not strong.)
Well a quick once over suffices to convince me a quick once over will not do. The language is a barrier being from another time and the author seems eager to festoon the article with as many references to other works as possible, perhaps in hopes of convincing us that his own offering will reveal the same accomplishment as those he enjoys reading himself? I’m not hopeful but will try to give it another go.
There are different presentations of the moral argument and some are certainly more contemptible than others. The one by C. S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity” is probably the best and the one I see given by many university philosophy courses is so bad it could be called a strawman version. But the version most often used in practice is that God is required for there to be an absolute standard of morality and thus we are left with the choice of either believing in God or accepting that morality consists of nothing but the arbitrary dictates of society.
First the strawman university philosophy course version:
Premise 1: If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
Premise 2: Objective moral values and duties do exist.
Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.
This looks almost intentionally absurd. Few people would talk about abstractions like moral values and obligations as things that exist as objects. Of course they exists as abstractions, as does God. The question is whether God exists as other than simply an abstraction in our minds, and thus this looks like a confusion of categories. Others do a little better by changing the terminology a little calling them objective moral facts and changing the first premise to say that God is the best or only explanation for them. I suppose we can see a point made in this spectrum, that the more you try to remove the subjective element to this, the sillier the argument sounds.
The argument of C. S. Lewis if you can even call it that, is better because it frankly admits its rather highly subjective nature. It consisted largely of his feeling about how peculiar it is that we have this idea that there are things we ought to do and things we ought not to do. And thus to him it suggests that there is something influencing us to think in such a way. It sounds pretty good and as stated there is nothing particularly objectionable, but in this case I think to some degree his subjective language is hiding some of the key issues. Do absolute moral standards require a divine authority to dictate them to us? Perhaps Lewis avoids this question because he knows a claim that it does is completely unsupportable.
And that brings us to what I think is the practical effective essence of the moral argument as I stated above that absolute morality requires a supreme authority as if you can transform relative dictates of society into something absolute simply by putting more power behind it. That is why I go to the definition of the words, “relative” and “absolute,” to cut through to the heart of the issue. Sometimes we actually need rules which are nothing but the arbitrary dictates of convention because it is more important to have a rule than what the rule actually is, such as which side of the street we drive on. Is it reasonable to suggest that Americans are better because they drive on the “right” side of the road (pun very much intentional)? The only way something can be put in opposition to arbitrary convention is if there is an actual reason why one alternative is better than the other. In other words, authority is the basis for relative morality and thus any morality from such dictates must be relative to the authority from which it comes. Thus divinely given morality remains relative to the god which gives it, and the ONLY thing which can make morality absolute is when reasons are given why these are things we should or should not do.
But once reasons are given, the moral argument collapses like a house of cards, because then the reasons themselves are all that is needed for those moral issues. The best you can do is say that there may be moral issues where we do not or even cannot understand the reasons yet. But the sad reality is that such gaps arguments are highly susceptible to abuse, for they can and have been used to justify just about anything including human sacrifice. This suggests that when people cannot give sound reasons for their moral claims then it is probably better to assume there are none, for it is just as possible that we will eventually discover that there are good reasons why what they claim to be good is actually bad and what they claim to be bad is actually good. This is not far fetched because I can think of such reversals having happened, such as with regards to interfering in cases of spousal abuse.