William lane craig arguments


If WLC says that these are topics that have “theological significance” then that is fine. I have no argument against that. A God of the Gaps fallacy only applies to logical arguments which may not apply in this specific case.

Also, your English is just fine. I would encourage you to continue to contribute to this forum to the best of your abilities. There are plenty of patient and thoughtful people on this board who can help you along the way.

(Luca) #63

Does that make the argument less strong?

Thanks friend!
quick edit: I am very happy to have found this forum!


Well that’s an interesting question. Something that leads me to think that it isn’t random, though, is that no matter what collection of carbon-14 atoms you have, half of them will always decay in the first 5,730 years, and so on in the well known process of exponential decay. So it doesn’t appear to be entirely random, otherwise we would see varying decay rates. But there aren’t any varying decay rates anywhere. I guess my answer would be ‘I don’t know’. It could boil down to pure statistics, i.e. given this many particles with this many interactions in this period of time, X of them will successfully stabilize. In fact, there are to be formulas for exponential decay. So how could it be causeless and random?


That would depend on the person. For atheists who are looking for logical arguments and scientific evidence, it wouldn’t be as strong of an argument. However, not everyone is looking for the same thing that atheists are looking for.

(Luca) #66

First of all, thank you for being a very kind person to me!
And thanks for being honest!
i’m going to wait until someone else says something because the quantum discussion is too complicated for me too join in.


@pevaquark can probably answer these questions much better than I, but I have felt the same headscratching “Why is that?” feeling you have towards these questions. They are (presumably) all in the same state and same conditions which would mean they all have the same set of causes, and yet they don’t all act the same. Does that mean there is some underlying cause we are missing, or do some events occur without a cause within quantum mechanics?

It is interesting to note that you will see the same first order rates in enzyme kinetics, although with some minor differences. In the case of enzymes there are causal mechanisms that produce the curve, such as the probability of the molecules coming into contact with one another and binding effeciencies, but it is still interesting to see the same curves popping up in different parts of nature.


In my opinion, that one particle decays before another can be boiled down to pure statistics. I can’t consider it causeless since the decay rates overall are always identical and constant, whereas causeless events, if they hypothetically happened, clearly would not occur at fixed rates. All in all, I find the principle of causality to be pretty believable.

(GJDS) #69

I cannot see a difficulty for science on this - nothing is the absence of everything we can see, measure, observe etc., in nature. There are some interesting discussions on the subject, and some that are scientific/philosophical consider a gradation of nothing, such as a vacuum, simply space, removal of mass/energy, and further into quantum considerations. However, for science to address theology, it is ultimately nothing (absolute); from this point, Christianity discusses God as the Creator.

(GJDS) #70

When we consider scientific objects we usually note dynamic states, and science seeks to understand these via mechanistic pathways. It is unusual to construct a causal chain; eg a chemical reaction may be of the form A+B <-> C + D (the reaction may occur forward or backward, or reach equilibrium). This approach may be used for complicated systems with a large number of steps and chemical species.

To render such phenomena as a causal chain, we need to consider the energetics of the entire system, and also each step of the system. It is unusual to discuss a cause for this; however it is completely inaccurate to claim a “causeless” series of events.

Perhaps simpler example of a causal chain my be that of pushing a ball from a hill - the initial shove by me “causes” the ball to begin to roll, and gravity causes it to roll to the bottom of the hill.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #71

Wow I’ve missed a lot here!

Part of radiometric decay can be looked at in terms of nuclear stability where there are two forces acting in the nucleus–the strong force that attracts protons to other protons and neutrons and the electrostatic force where protons repel each other. Atomic stability is dependent on the strong nuclear force being greater than the electrostatic force which is is… by a lot! However, the strong nuclear force is very weak outside of the nucleus so if a particle could just jump a tiny amount it could escape forever (let’s say with alpha decay 2 protons and 2 neutrons escape together). A picture of this would be:


The center represents the nucleus which is already stable. If it wasn’t stable it would not stay together even from a picosecond so to speak. If an alpha particle that’s inside of the nucleus (~20 fermis in diameter) could somehow just go 17 fermis away from the edge of a nucleus he could escape (the green area on the right or left) and then be repelled by the electrostatic force from the positively charged nucleus. However there is a barrier than no alpha particle can ever overcome. In say many chemical reactions this would be analogous to an activation barrier in that the reaction cannot occur unless you either lower the barrier (via a catalyst) or give the particle extra energy (like heating it). Here, neither is occurring. Instead we turn to the more fundamental understanding from quantum mechanics to model the alpha particle not as an object, but rather as a wavefunction. And then voila from Schrondinger’s equation and knowing the potential energies inside and outside the nucleus can computer this wavefunction which has a very small but nonzero amplitude outside of the nucleus. And then once an alpha particle actually escapes its wavefunction would again change as its subject to completely different potential energies.

Let’s say you had 100 atoms of Polonium 212 and it had a half life of 1 second (it’s actual half-life is ~300 ns but nanoseconds are not as nice to think about). After 1 second, approximately half of them have now jumped ship and now call themselves Lead 208. What caused those 50 to abandon their roots and join a new element? Why those 50 and not the other 50? Nothing caused these 50 to change. They are no different from the 50 who didn’t change. There is nothing that one can point to as to what caused this to occur. Sure, we understand what physical process had to occur for this to happen (i.e. Quantum tunneling), but there was nothing that started the decay, nothing that egged it on, no extra force acting up on it. This is very different from non-Quantum phenomena which makes the beginning of the universe extra sticky–because quantum effects would have been extremely important.

(GJDS) #72

I agree with your description, but am inclined to ask for further elaboration. You have described (what I would consider) properties of a substance, which include radioactive decay. If you wish to extend this into causality (or lack of it), you need to consider what “caused” the element and its properties, and we would then describe events in stars that “cause” creation of elements, and once we do this, we are forced to consider the “causes” for star formation, and so on, until we are forced to consider an initial “cause” that constitutes a beginning from, what?

I think a line of reasoning that promotes a causeless outlook will fail. Science imo is satisfied with observations and descriptions that inevitably take a mathematical form.

(Christy Hemphill) #73

We mostly care about the trollish or political off-topic stuff. If it’s kind of off-topic, but everyone on the thread thinks it’s interesting and helpful and perhaps tangentially related, we don’t care. :slight_smile:


Well then, Matt, I guess you know quite a bit about this stuff. I knew a good amount of what you said but you really clarified some things for me – so, just to clarify, let’s say during alpha decay, the alpha particle exists in a wavefunction – so by Shrodinger’s equation, the location it ‘probably exists in’ can exist extend to outside of the area that the strong force cannot ‘control’, and so there’s a low (but non-zero) chance it is actually located there. So, given enough time, the alpha particle will actually be in that location (i.e. quantum tunnelling, which I actually just learned today) and therefore decay has successfully occurred. Did I get it right?

So, here is the contention:

After 1 second, approximately half of them have now jumped ship and now call themselves Lead 208. What caused those 50 to abandon their roots and join a new element? Why those 50 and not the other 50? Nothing caused these 50 to change. They are no different from the 50 who didn’t change. There is nothing that one can point to as to what caused this to occur. Sure, we understand what physical process had to occur for this to happen (i.e. Quantum tunneling), but there was nothing that started the decay, nothing that egged it on, no extra force acting up on it. This is very different from non-Quantum phenomena which makes the beginning of the universe extra sticky–because quantum effects would have been extremely important.

As I said earlier, I just don’t know why those 50 and not the other 50. However, I did make a point – if it was, indeed, entirely causeless and random, then why are the decay rates always identical? Using your same analogy again, if I ran an experiment the first time, 50 atoms would decay in one second and 50 wouldn’t. Then, if I ran the exact same experiment with 100 different Polonium 212 atoms, in one second, again exactly 50 would decay and 50 wouldn’t. So, while I do not know any expletive cause, perhaps no one does, it appears non-random on some level, otherwise we would expect decay rates that have absolutely no continuity with each other.

I mentioned earlier that this could be due to pure statistics. Let me know if I fumble. Let’s say, hypothetically, that the chance an alpha particle will be outside of the ‘no-go zone’ of the strong force is 1/20 every hour (note: these odds are all made up). And let’s say I had 100 atoms. So, in 1 hour, by pure chance exactly 5 atoms will have undergone alpha decay. Although there is absolutely nothing distinguishing these 100 atoms each other, and nothing distinguishing the 5 particles that underwent decay from the 95 that didn’t, we realize that this is not a causeless process and statistics can always predict what will happen. So, in fact, if this reasoning follows, we don’t really need to postulate any sort of causeless events taking place. Every event in the particles that underwent decay have known causes, and every event in the particles that did not undergo decay do not have any logical conundrums either to engage with. So where’s the problem? Let me know if I should clarify my thoughts a bit.

By the way, since you’re a physics guy, know a good physics book I should get my hands on? I learned recently that Hawking’s bestseller is available for free online, so I’ll read that once I get through my current backlog of reading (currently going through We Have Found The Messiah by Michael Vicko Zolondek, a recent academic monograph on Jesus’ self-messianic understanding in light of his group-social context).

(John Dalton) #75

Thanks for the video. That clears things up, but the problem still exists in the generally stated form (as I quoted in my post), which can cause it to be easily misunderstood–not quite a “misinterpretation” IMO. In any event, my larger objection still stands–we have no experience of things “coming into being” or arising from “not a material state” and no definitive evidence that the universe did so.

:question: We’re talking about it here and now. I don’t see what any of this has to do with anything.

Sure! I was just saying, as you can see if you look, I’m sure.

I hope it’s not that difficult for you!

As I said, if the reasoning for the existence of God is as provided in the Kalam, I think the question is wholly justified. I watched the video already (Juan posted it above, and I specifically used this language for that reason.)

(Luca) #76

Hey guys i’ve asked a friend who has helped me a lot about the causeless universe due to quantum mechanics and he said:

My understanding is that this is not likely. A particle can appear out of “nothing” in quantum physics if there is a quantum field. So for the universe to appear without a cause out of nothing would require an enormously strong quantum field, which is a long way from nothing. And what caused that field?

Does this hold up?

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #77

Yes, it does.

The Big Bang Theory says that the Big Bang was the Beginning of the universe. That mans that it emerged out of absolute nothing, no matter, no quantum, no energy, no space, and no time.

This is scientifically based on E = mc squared which says the time and space are dependent on matter/energy. In other words, no matter means no time and space.

Thus people who are arguing that there was no absolute beginning of the universe are arguing against settled science, not faith. Faith only provides an identity for the Source of the universe.

God is not the Cause of the universe as WLC is arguing, God is not a trigger that can set off the universe. God is the Source Who created the singularity and the laws of Nature.

Science cannot verify that God is the Source of the universe. Science cannot go beyond the Beginning of time, so science cannot speak on this issue.

So there are two possible questions. Was there a Beginning of the universe? This has been settled by science, even though some are disputing this. Is God the Source of the universe? This has been settled by theology and philosophy, which have jurisdiction in this area.

Thus by current knowledge and standards the existence of God has been proven. This does not mean that everyone has to believe in God, just as it meant people did not have to not believe in God before this has been proven.

However if one claims not believe in God because the existence of God has not been proven, the he or she has a problem because it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.


Just to pick nits, I would describe it as probabilistic instead of statistical, but I get your drift. For me, it gets interesting when you consider a single nuclei in isolation. It can be an unstable nuclei for millions or even billions of years, and then one day it just decays. Nothing is different about that day or the ones that preceded it. So why decay on that day out of the billions of days before that?


The other question is what preceded our universe? Was it an absolute nothing, or was it something like a quantum vacuum, or even a massive black hole in another universe? We could then chase infinite regressions back to the ultimate cause, but then we are dealing with strange twists of causality, time lines, and the like.

If there is one commonality that atheists and theists could possibly find is in being fascinated by the mystery of it.


The decay rates are only identical over large numbers of decays. If you only had 20 or so atoms decaying in separate experiments you might get very different rates.

Random processes over many trials can produce consistent results. Games of chance have very predictable outcomes over many trials which is why casinos are able to make money in the long run. The roll of the dice in craps is random, yet over 1 million trials you can be almost guaranteed that the most common outcome in will be 7. I think it may be a bit hasty to say that something is not random simply because it is predictable over many trials. Of course, I only know enough quantum mechanics to be dangerous, so I could be entirely wrong on this point.

But what causes the particle to find itself outside of the nucleus and not elsewhere? As far as my understanding goes, there is simply a probability that a particle will be within the nucleus one moment and outside the nucleus the next moment without ever being anywhere in between. So what causes that?

I’m a biology guy, but the classic book on the subject are “The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics” by Gary Zukav which gets a bit into Buddhism, but not annoyingly so. I also enjoyed “Hyperspace” by Michio Kaku.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #81

It’s not likely that a quantum fluctuation cannot produce a universe? Even if it’s not likely, it can certainly happen. Here’s one such paper that mathematically demonstrates its feasibility:

Nobody is actually arguing (except for that one paper I referenced above, sorry @Korvexius) that the universe came from nothing. Very few cosmologists are writing papers and exploring a true ex nihilo type of model.

Despite Roger’s confidence, he has no idea how the universe began just the same as WLC. Sure, Roger and WLC believe by faith that the Christian God in particular is the one who created it. I believe the same thing! But… I am not so presumptuous to come in and say that because we have no natural explanation, God did it. That is literally all the Kalam argument ever was and ever will be. Sure, maybe we will push the argument back a bit further, or maybe the laws of physics are eternal and then we can’t use the Kalam argument for a while.

Roger you’re wrong again. I think I’ve explained this to you as have other physicists. The Big Bang Theory describes quite well what happened after the universe began but says nothing about what started it. Again, this is exactly the same thing as how abiogenesis is completely different than the theory of evolution. But I’ve explained this to you and you still keep repeating the same inaccurate phrases about Cosmology.

Did Dawkins and and Hawking really admit the Big Bang is impossible?