William lane craig arguments

(Luca) #21

Hey guys, can you put what you are in an edit or something?

(John Dalton) #22

Hi @Totti ! I’m an agnostic atheist.

I’m not quoting you to counter you, but to highlight what I believe is a serious problem for the first premise.

WLC engages in a bit of subtle equivocation in his statement in the quote. We think of things beginning to exist in everyday reality, but as with quantum particles doing their thing, all that ever really happens is some kind of reordering of existing matter and energy. The set of things that we have ever experienced truly “beginning to exist” in the sense of appearing from nothing is an empty set. (Some might point to the Big Bang, but it isn’t at all clear that it represents a literal emergence of matter from nothing. Anyway, the argument isn’t predicated on this kind of empirical observation, but on the supposition that the universe somehow must have begun to exist.)

So, since we have no experience of anything “beginning to exist”, how can we definitively say anything about the concept? How do we know that the concept truly applies to our reality, and is even a necessary characteristic of it, making it somehow “contingent”? How can we say that there are other things that it doesn’t apply to? Certainly, saying that something else that didn’t need to begin to exist made it begin to exist doesn’t get us anywhere as far as I can see. For this reason, the question “Who created God” is a valid objection to this concept for me. I don’t see how Craig can go anywhere from this first premise. Anyway, it should be clear that the argument itself doesn’t get to any particular God, though I’m not familiar with his other arguments that support that point.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #23

Radiometric decay would be different in the sense that it there is nothing ‘natural’ about it tunneling through a barrier. We can understand the process of radiometric decay-I can for example walk a class through it who has at least had some first year Physics. They won’t really understand solving the Schrodinger equation which forms the foundations of quantum mechanics, but that is the last bit of the derivation. There is no such thing as cause and effect in the probabilistic processes in the same sense as the world we are familiar with. We can certainly understand the process, but it did not have any cause for why one atom just decayed and the other million did not.

Bob is also correct in that you actually can have models of the universe that do pop into existence out of nothing, i.e.:

It is far from reaching a consensus, but basically the timeline of Cosmology/The Return of Kalam has been something like this:

  • Early 1900s: Universe was infinitely ‘old,’ Kalam argument not used
  • Early 1930s: The redshift of light and equations of General Relativity provide evidence that our universe was once confined to an infinitesimal region
  • Early 1950s: The Pope makes a proclamation that this is scientific proof of God. Georges Lemaitre, the one who was the leader of Cosmology since the early 1930s, and also a Belgian Priest, says “no no, this scientific theory is neutral; it does not affirm or deny the Christian faith;” The Pope listens and stopped making such proclamations
  • Later 1900s: The Kalam is back in business! It begins to appear in an endless stream of apologetics arguments
  • Early 2000s: A nice gift for apologists is the so called BGV Theorem which states that “which says that a universe with an average expansion rate greater than zero must be geodesically incomplete in the past.” WLC writes a lot about this and has some nice emails from Vilenkin himself. Basically a summary of his reponse is: http://now.tufts.edu/articles/beginning-was-beginning
  • The BGV Theorem is now a standard part of Christian apologetics on this topic and is combined with the Kalam argument.

Today, nobody knows what happened at the beginning of the universe. It is now a scientific question. While many cosmologists are discussing, debating, performing experiments Christian apologists seem content to sit back in their chair, smoke a pipe and say “we know what happened.” To which any scientist gets wide eyes and say, “what what what?” Then lean forward, take the pipe out of their mouth and say “God.”

To which the scientist then asks, “well how did God do it? What mechanisms did he use? How does an immaterial being interact with the natural world? How can we test your idea?”

The Apologists then leans in and says “Kalam baby. You can’t beat it.”

The scientists then all spontaneously poof out of existence and it is hailed as more proof of God.


I would say that it is possible. The problem is that if you are trying to make a logical argument you can’t start with premises that may or may not be true. They need to be demonstrably true. The point of logical arguments is that you start with a foundation of what you know to be true (within reason) and then build towards a conclusion.

Actually, what you describe is exactly what I would call human intuition. This is where we extrapolate from our very limited experiences.

I would also like to point out that Christians believed in God well before WLC or others put this argument forward. I am not trying to attack a belief in God, only pointing out the deficiencies in a very specific argument which no one would claim is the single foundation of Christian belief.

(Luca) #25

I understand.
I know very little about logical arguments or anything like it so thats why i asked.
@pevaquark Hello sir, Are you an atheist/agnostic?

(Luca) #26

I am always looking up what WLC thinks about these objections etc and this is what he says about validity of a premise:

"What makes for a sound deductive argument? The answer is: true premisses and valid logic. An argument is sound if the premisses of the argument are true and the conclusion follows from the premisses by the logical rules of inference. If these two conditions are met, then the conclusion of the argument is guaranteed to be true.

However, to be a good argument, an argument must be more than just sound. If the premisses of an argument are true, but we have no evidence for the truth of those premisses, then the argument will not be a good one. It may (unbeknownst to us) be sound, but in the absence of any evidence for its premisses it won’t, or at least shouldn’t, convince anyone. The premisses have to have some sort of epistemic warrant for us in order for a sound argument to be a good one."

On another question it is revealed that WLC doesn’t keep it a secret that he uses or has “metaphysical intuition” that something cannot come into being from nothing”

i think this is what you are reffering to when you say it is not good to make a premise on intuition?

This was the objection the person made:
“But is that really it – he intuits it? Because human intuitions about the nature of reality have a less than impressive track record. This is why I’m guessing Dr. Craig fortifies his admission with a bit of intellectual intimidation by warning that anyone who disagrees with him has “quit doing serious metaphysics and resorted to magic” [quoting you there, Bill]. Of course this leaves us wondering why Craig would cite philosophers such as Quentin Smith, Graham Oppy, and Adolf Grünbaum as having lodged substantive critiques of kalam’s first premise when according to him these men have quit doing serious metaphysics and resorted to magic.”

This sounds alot like what you are saying right?

He gives a couple of reasons why he thinks the universe has a cause or why his intuition may be right.
“The first one is, that it is a kind of first principle of metaphysics that something cannot come from nothing; out of nothing nothing comes. Aristotle put it that being only arises from being, it doesn’t come from non-being. And I think that this is a metaphysical truth that we do intuit rationally when we think about it.”

Now he gives his reasons for his intuition:

Now I think that the questioner doesn’t understand, perhaps, what philosophers mean when they talk about intuition. It’s not like women’s intuition, some sort of mysterious feeling or something; rather this would be a way of knowing some sort of a truth that is so basic, it’s so primitive, that it is grasped as evidently true without needing to provide some deeper proof of it. Examples would include, for example, the truths of logic: p implies q; p; therefore q. Now how do you know that that logical truth is in fact true? There’s no way to prove it because any proof would have to appeal to logic. So the truths of logic are something that one simply knows by a rational intuition when you look at them; it’s just clear that they are true. Or modal truths, for example, that I could not have been an alligator. When you think about that I think it’s obvious that being a person is something that someone has essentially, so that I could not have been a non-person like an alligator or a chair; that would be a different being than me. How do I know that? Well, you can’t prove that but it just seems evident when you think about it, that I could not have been an alligator, for example. Or other sorts of intuitive truths. This table could not have been made of ice. When you think about it that seems intuitively true; it’s not that you can prove it but it just seems evident.

And I would say in the same way when you think about the metaphysical principle that something cannot come from nothing, that seems to me to just be evidently true. And I don’t think that this is idiosyncratic to me; on the contrary this is one of the oldest principles of metaphysics, Kevin, that has been recognized since the time of ancient Greek philosophy right up through the present day, so that I stand well within the mainstream of philosophical thought in saying this.[1] To quote from Plato himself in his Timaeus sections 27 and 28, he said,

We must in my opinion begin by distinguishing between that which

always is and never becomes from that which is always becoming but

never is. . . . everything that becomes or changes must do so owing to some cause; for nothing can come to be without a cause.
As for the world – call it that or ‘cosmos’ or any other name acceptable to

it – we must ask about it the question one is bound to ask to begin with

about anything: whether it has always existed and had no beginning, or

whether it has come into existence and started from some beginning.

The answer is that it has come into being . . . And what comes into being or changes must do so, we said, owing to some cause

This fundamental metaphysical principle has been recognized down through history. Even David Hume, the great Scottish skeptic, wrote to John Stuart in 1723 I believe it was, “I have never asserted so absurd a proposition as that something might come into being without a cause. I only maintained that our certainty of the falsehood of that principle stems neither from intuition nor experience but from some other cause.” So even Hume recognized the truth of the principle even though he disputed the typical basis upon which we know it. So I think that this is a fundamental metaphysical first principle that anyone who thinks about it ought to see is true.

Now that does not mean that this is known infallibly. I noticed that later in his question he equates intuition with an infallible certainty that whatever begins to exist has a cause. Well, I’m not claiming that, and the argument doesn’t depend on that. All it depends on is your seeing that this principle is more plausibly true than not, and that’s enough for the argument to go through. Ask yourself, if you were on a sort of serious game show where you can win five hundred million dollars and the question to you was “Can something come into existence uncaused out of nothing?” how would you answer? Well, I think you ought to answer, “No, it can’t; whatever begins to exist has a cause.”

Sorry for the huge amount of texts and sorry for not making those pretty quoting windows, i have no clue how!

But i think this does answer your objection a little @T_aquaticus


Precisely. What WLC attempts to do is claim that his first premise is on the same level as 2+2=4. In other words, he tries to claim that it is an axiom or metaphysical truth that can’t be questioned. For many of us, we find that claim to be less than satisfactory. The claim that something can’t come from nothing has the potential to be testable through scientific means. It is an open question, not a metaphysical truth or axiom. @pevaquark has a great example of quantum tunneling in atomic nuclei where radioactive decay can be said to be uncaused. There are many ideas within quantum mechanics whereby something can come from nothing.

To use other examples, it was once thought that the universe had to be eternal and unending. It was treated with the same metaphysical weight as WLC is giving his first premise. It also turned out to be untrue. What WLC is essentially betting on is that science will not figure out if something can come from nothing, and when you are betting on humans not discovering something then you are no longer using logic.

(GJDS) #28

Scientists have a lot of trouble knowing “nothingness” - thus arguments that seek to support a “natural” form of nothing fall down, be it as a scientific or philosophical outlook.

The theological argument for creation from nothing is based n the premise that God exists, and from that we believe that God caused the universe into existence. This theological primal cause is placed before causality as we observe in nature.

(Luca) #29

I understand.so basically you can either choose to believe that the universe had a cause and then agree with the argument.

Or you say we dont know and abstain from continuing this argument?

Am i getting it right?

(GJDS) #30

I think you are stretching your argument well beyond breaking point - science cannot deal with “nothing”.

(Luca) #31

How do you guys make the quote windows? :smiley:

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #32

Excluding God is not special pleading unless you think that God is physical. God is not physical, but God is the Source of the physical.

The question is what is the Beginning of the physical or the universe. You can insist that there was no Beginning of the physical universe, but the scientific evidence indicates otherwise. If there was a beginning then it must have come from a non-physical, non-limited Source Who is commonly called God.

There is not a problem saying that God is the cause of the universe if God is the cause of the universe. The evidence that God created the universe is there. You have to prove that God is not the Source of the universe, which you and others have utterly failed to do.

(John Dalton) #33

The easiest way is to insert a > character before a block of text like:

>This will be a quote

Which will display as:

This will be a quote

(Mervin Bitikofer) #34

Or alternately, @Totti, all you need to do is highlight the portion of text in the other person’s post that you wish to quote, and then click on the grey quote box that immediately pops up above the highlighted text. This one click automatically does three things for you: opens a new post if you don’t already have one open, inserts the quoted text for you into that post, and notifies the person (via email) that somebody is responding to something they said.

(Luca) #35

So this or

this will be a quote


(Peter Wolfe) #36

Hi, Been giving this whole “does God exist” thing quite a bit of thought. Seems that WLC comes at this question from a “science” set of arguments, “proofs” if you like. And has been shown in the discussion they seem to come up short. Tim Keller takes on the skeptics in his Making Sense of God book. This is from a philosophical view rather than science. @T_aquaticus have you read stuff like this? What is your take?

To me it seems the best one can do is get people to a place of “well, maybe God exists” rather than a “science has proven God does not exist” view. I suspect much of this has to do with ones environment and exposure to God “conversations” in ones past. Two examples:

Nabeel Qureshi was raised a (Ahmadiyya) Muslim and met a Christian in university. They got into dialogue over which religion had God right. He took a very analytical approach comparing Islam and Christianity and switched his beliefs, quite amazing IMO. I don’t think many of us are persuaded by analysis. Read about it here.

Then there is Science Mike. He grew up Southern Baptist, got disillusioned and became a (closet) atheist. He had an experience of meeting God in the waves one day that returned him to belief in God, though he is perhaps not quite Southern Baptist any more :). He at first thought that he had a brain tumor so got an MRI then finally concluded, I can’t explain this mystical experience but will accept it.

My cards on the table … I choose to accept “the Christian God exists” as an article of faith. I am not sure why we Christians have so much apparent difficulty in admitting that we choose this God and not the God of Dao, Mohamed, Buddha, Krishna or no god at all etc in these discussions of “proof”. I have had stirrings that cause me to say “yes I believe”, but this is not proof but rather a mystery. I am learning to live with mystery and faith. I understand people who say “give me proof”, I hope that may they find something that satisfies in this life journey.

Ok, back to science and proofs!

(Luca) #37

God cannot be proven thats true.
In the end it is wether you believe God exists or not.
But my apologies i have a hard time understanding what you are trying to say/what your point is.

I have indeed heard about Nabeel. I think he died recently due to sickness.
It is a very interesting testimony.


Or you can agree that the universe had a cause, but still disagree with the argument that God was the cause.


I guess it depends on how you define nothing.


Why must it come from God?

Until such evidence is given there is nothing to disprove.

“That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”–Christopher Hitchens