William lane craig arguments


I haven’t read that book. I will add it to my growing list of books I should read. Thank you for the suggestion.

I REALLY hate to quote Hollywood movies, but there was a line from the movie “Angels and Demons” that I really liked. The Tom Hanks character, an atheist/agnostic, said that (paraphrasing) “God didn’t grant me the gift of faith”. I think that is a nice middle ground for discussions between believers and non-believers.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #42

I think another way so summarize this large category of polemical exchanges between Christians and atheists could be this:

Many centuries ago the preponderance of philosophical / scientific / religious argumentation (at least in the west) was deemed to be slam-dunk obvious that God exists.

Then in the late 18th and especially 19th centuries it finally became intellectually respectable (for the first time?) to be an atheist. And atheists in turn considered their new views to be a slam dunk argument that there is no God.

Theists reacted, but many of them with an obligatory humility now by mounting up a now more cautious, defensive argument that the other side’s “slam dunk” is really no such thing at all. I.e. that theism is still a plausible presence on the table, even if not proven. And most atheists also settled back into their more humble territory of maintaining that Theists also have no working slam dunk, so atheism is still a plausible presence on the table. I.e. both are generally satisfied to border guard their existing territory and stop mounting offensives into the other and threatening their place at the table of rationality (such as it is).

But occasionally strong IDists, or apologists (like WLC) do propose to poke and jab into the other territory (whether successful or not) with a slightly stronger offensive. Just as a few atheists (like the 4 horsemen) also try to keep offensive postures alive and well with highly public provocations. At least that’s my take on Craig. He thinks Christians have given too much away philosophically and should be able to make objectively considerate atheists squirm a bit more than they have been. Fundamentalist creationists and their atheistic counterparts both are doing whatever they can to keep the glory days of strong offensives alive.

(Luca) #43

Im going to be honest.
I hate it when christians say "You are a fool not to believe in God the proof is everywhere"
And i also hate when atheists say such a similar thing.
It is really inconsiderate and very rude.

(Peter Wolfe) #44

I might well agree with you. My question is: what’s the point? Who gets changed by polemical exchanges? This is my comment on the WLC approach. Seems like he actually thinks he can “win” the argument in God’s favor. Not sure he is winning or changing the discussion much.


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

Always sounds good to me.

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.

I don’t think WLC engages in any equivocation at all. I have not seen Craig ever try to use creation ex materia as a proof for creation ex nihilo. In fact, this appears to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the Kalam. Without providing a full explanation myself, I will simply refer you to Craig who does correct this misinterpretation of his argument:

So, since we have no experience of anything “beginning to exist”, how can we definitively say anything about the concept?

This, again asks what justification there is for the premise “everything that begins to exist has a cause”. Craig has offered much such justification in his work. This is why we should look at the Kalam in discussion by professional philosophers, so we don’t encounter common misunderstandings about Craig’s argument as seen from online rebuttals. In fact, it looks to me like one of the reasons why Craig crushes his debate opponents so badly most of the time is because they use these common responses that Craig just swats. And Craig specifically says that the Kalam doesn’t get to any specific God. It would strawman Craig to say “but that doesn’t prove Christianity!”

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.

While I remain respectful, come on dude. The “who created God?” argument that not even atheist philosophers adopt anymore?

(Mervin Bitikofer) #46

Indeed! …and much agreed.

I wasn’t (in that post) investing myself in either side of any argument, but simply pointing out that’s where history (IMO) seems to have gone. A seemingly large and certainly very noisy contingent of our population seem to feel that this is an important point – one worth taking out on the battlefield. I’m just noting what seem to be facts here. It would seem we share the same suspicion or even disapproval of most of these kinds of polemics.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #47

The universe did not have to come from God, but it did come from somewhere. As I said the Source of the universe is commonly called God.

If you want to define the Source as God, but call it something else, I guess you can.

I have given you evidence in other discussions with no response, so I refuse to waste my time playing games.


Those are close to my observations as well. In hindsight we can say that perhaps it was foolish to think that God was continually and directly acting on nature (in the “miraculous” sense) in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, but it is an understandable mistake.

Much like a young adult leaving the house for the first time, the atheist movement of the 18th and 19th centuries were feeling their oats in those times. I have seen the same misguided enthusiasm in the recently deconverted as well. However, there are some well spoken and thoughtful atheists who have come to the same conclusion you do, most notably the “Non-overlapping Magisteria” put forward by Gould.

In my own personal view, WLC’s arguments have been around in one form or another for centuries. “You can’t explain that? Well, then how do you know God doesn’t do it?”. Those are some of the first arguments that modern atheists dealt with in the 18th century.

(Luca) #49

I would not agree that it is god of the gaps though.


The source of lightning was once commonly called Thor. I don’t see why calling something God makes it into God.

With no response? Go back to those threads and you will find that I did respond, and you failed to address those responses.


How do you think it differed from a God of the Gaps argument?


Hey Matt.

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.

I have to ask what you mean by the statement that there is nothing ‘natural’ about it? If it isn’t natural, what is it? Supernatural? It’s natural, i.e., it occurs in the natural world for natural reasons in accordance with the laws of physics. As for radioactive decay and causation, I’m not sure we’re operating under the same definition of causation here. The way I use it, it simply means in simple terms that something occurs directly because something else occurred, and without that something else occurring, the first something wouldn’t have resulted either. Radioactive decay, or lets say beta+ decay happens when a proton converts into a neutron and emits a positron and electron neutrino. But that doesn’t happen for no reason. It occurs because the isotope is unstable, and therefore must lose a proton in its nucleus to try to attain stability. Am I wrong? That seems to be the way it works to me.

Now, you refer me to a paper that I have never been aware of regarding universe creation without causation. I am not a physicist by any means but I see something that does not make sense to me. First, the author says this in section 2.1:

According to the newly suggested theory, CEN, in the beginning there was nothing – no material, no energy, no space and no time. This situation was fully symmetric with no entropy. Therefore, this initial state was allegedly static, with no motive for change.

So in the model, you begin with no space, time, material, energy, nothing, nadda. But later in section 2.2, the author says this:

The above description is in-line with the description of SSB in literature. First, the actual breaking can happen only if some asymmetrical causal factors, such as random perturbations or fluctuations are introduced to the model [15]. In our model the potentially additional NIEs cause an SSB by introducing potential random fluctuations. Second, in the “no boundary conditions” cosmology, favored by several modern cosmologists, there is also no information in the initial conditions – that are entirely symmetrical [16], and therefore all information must arise through symmetry breaking [17].

So, in order to break the symmetry of the infinite canceling out NIEs, the author introduces fluctuations into the model. But fluctuations only happen in the fabric of space, do they not? To me, it looks contradictory (I also just searched the paper into google and saw a Reddit thread basically saying the same things). I look forwards to your thoughts.


If you have a mass of the same isotope, not all of the nuclei decay at the same time. So what causes one nucleus to decay, but not the others? If it is as deterministic as you claim, then all of the isotopes should spontaneously decay at the same time, so why don’t they?

(Luca) #54

Im going to quote WLC again because i saw a rule that said you need decent english and i make a mess most of the times so sorry if that bothers any of you guys.

we must first ask, what is a God-of-the-gaps argument? It had better not be just any argument which infers God’s existence as the best explanation of some phenomenon. For that would be simply to rule out in advance supernaturalistic explanations, which begs the question in favor of naturalism. To be objectionable, a God-of-the-gaps argument has to be an unprincipled or gratuitous inference to God: “We have no scientific explanation of X; therefore, God did it!” Your illustration of an ancient Greek’s saying, “we don’t know how lightning exists, so it must be Zeus” is a good illustration of God-of-the-gaps thinking.
It’s fairly easy, then, to see that the kalam cosmological argument is not a God-of-the-gaps argument. For the scientific evidence is not marshalled to prove the proposition God exists but to support the second premiss that the universe began to exist. Recall what I said in my opening speech:
This is not to make some sort of naïve claim that contemporary cosmology proves the existence of God. There is no God-of-the-gaps reasoning here. Rather I’m saying that contemporary cosmology provides significant evidence in support of premises in philosophical arguments for conclusions having theological significance.
For example, the key premise in the ancient kalam cosmological argument that: 2. The universe began to exist.
is a religiously neutral statement which can be found in virtually any contemporary textbook on astronomy and astrophysics. It is obviously susceptible to scientific confirmation or disconfirmation on the basis of the evidence. So, to repeat, one is not employing the evidence of contemporary cosmology to prove the proposition that God exists but to support theologically neutral premises in philosophical arguments for conclusions that have theistic significance.
Since the argument is appealing to scientific evidence to prove, not the existence of God, but the beginning of the universe, it cannot be accused of God-of-the-gaps reasoning. I take this point to be decisive.

Had to edit a whole lot cause i had troubles with the quote window :stuck_out_tongue:


If you have a mass of the same isotope, not all of the nuclei decay at the same time. So what causes one nucleus to decay, but not the others? If it is as deterministic as you claim, then all of the isotopes should spontaneously decay at the same time, so why don’t they?

I’m not sure if I exactly follow. Perhaps I need to read another book. The way I understand it, decay occurs because an isotope is unstable. If the isotope were not unstable, it would not decay. Indeed, the process of decay occurs in order to stabilize the nucleus. The reason why not all isotopes decay at the same time is because not all isotopes are the same. You can have different isomers, for example. Isomers are basically isotopes with the same number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus, but the arrangement of protons and neutrons in the nucleus differs, leading to different rates of decay. Secondly, not all isotopes are of the same types of atoms. You can have a strontium isotope and you can have an aluminum isotope. Because these are isotopes of different atoms, they will naturally decay at different rates. Let me know if this answers what you’re asking since I’m not necessarily sure what you’re saying.

As for determinism, I don’t think I said anything about determinism. I’m not sure what the word even really means (not a philosophy buff here), but if it is that idea about everything being determined in advance and that there is not any free will, I think determinism is a kooky idea.


Not in my opinion. We’re discussing the validity of WLC’s arguments in light of quantum mechanics. If it is off topic, I trust a moderator will let us all know.

(Luca) #58

Okay! i will delete.


You don’t need to delete, all insight are worth looking at in the evolution of this discussion.


If you have a collection of atoms that are the same isotope and same isomer they won’t all spontaneously decay at the same time. As you say, they have a specific decay RATE (a first order decay rate, to be specific). So why do half of the nuclei decay during one half life, and the other half do not? In a group of identical nuclei, what causes one nuclei to decay at a specific point in time but not the others?

(Luca) #61

oops, I was a bit hasty.