An Invitation to William Lane Craig

An Invitation to William Lane Craig

On May 23 and June 9, respectively, the Secular Web published revised versions of two of my three essays on the kalam cosmological argument that had previously been published on that website. Today, I have sent an e-mail letter to Dr. William Lane Craig requesting that he publicly respond to these essays for the reasons set forth in that letter. A copy of that letter appears below. The reader will please note that I informed Dr. Craig in my letter that I would post (or attempt to do so) on the reasonablefaith.com and the secularfrontier blogs. I very much hope that the reader of this post will read my two essays on the philosophical aspects of the kalam cosmological argument.

My letter reads as follows:

Dear Dr. Craig:
June 29, 2014
Perhaps you may have personally noticed, or your attention has been called to the fact, that updated/revised versions of two or my three essays on the kalam cosmological argument are now available on the Secular Web. They are “The Kalam Cosmological Argument: the Question of the Metaphysical Possibility of an Infinite Set of Real Entities” [2002, updated May 23, 2014], accessible at http://infidels.org/library/modern/arnold_guminski/kalam.html, and “The Kalam Cosmological Argument: The Question of the Metaphysical Possibility of an Infinite Temporal Series” [2003, revised June 9, 2014[, accessible at http://infidels.org/library/modern/arnold_guminski/kalam2.html. For the reasons set forth below, I cordially invite you once more to publicly respond to my theses concerning the philosophical aspects of the kalam cosmological argument.

My writings make it abundantly clear that I agree with you that the typical ways in which the application of Cantorian transfinite arithmetic to the natural world are attempted generate counter-intuitively absurd consequences—consequences which justify the rejection of the metaphysical possibility of an infinite temporal series of infinite or finite duration. The reason for this outcome is that the typical ways in question presuppose that denumerably infinite sets[1] of natural entities or of temporal events are necessarily equipollent, i.e., that there must be a one-to-one correspondence between the members of any two denumerably infinite sets of real concrete entities or of events. This presupposition in turn is ultimately grounded upon the flawed notion that real infinites are similar in all relevant aspects to mathematical denumerable infinites. I argue in my two essays why at least some denumerably infinite sets of entities or events are metaphysically possible—or, at least, that the metaphysical impossibility of such sets cannot be legitimately grounded upon transfinite mathematical considerations. In short, the philosophical kca fails for the reasons set forth in my two essays.

In my e-mail to you, dated 27 January 2014, I wrote (with added matter within brackets):

It behooves me to also call your attention to the following. Quentin Smith [your frequent collaborator and/or sparring partner], then editor of the philosophical journal Philo, wrote in his acceptance letter (07/2002) of my first KCA paper: “Your paper has been studied thoroughly for some time and there is agreement that it is at least an under-cutting defeater of Craig’s beliefs about real infinites, probably even an overriding-defeater. More importantly, it introduces a novel metaphysical theory of the relation of transfinite arithmetic to concrete reality.” In a follow-up message Smith remarked; “We liked your paper…. My second KCA paper (“The Kalam Cosmological Argument Yet Again [etc]”) was submitted to Philo but, alas, not accepted. Quentin Smith, however, in his email of 10/04/2003 wrote that only 12 papers of about 200 submissions can be accepted for publication in an issue of Philo. He wrote: “The readers liked it and found it plausible …..[A]lthough your paper made it into our top 20, it did not quite make it into our top 12 that we will publish. Nonetheless, I liked reading your article, as did the others.”

The world wonders why you have not yet answered me since my two essays in question were peer-reviewed and present a persuasive challenge to your version of the kalam philosophical cosmological argument.[2] This is all the more puzzling since, unlike so many naturalist critics of your version of the kca whose views on the matter you have chosen to publically consider, I am a very commonsensible naturalist. Thus I adhere to the A (dynamic or tensed) theory of time (together with the notion of absolute simultaneity); as well as to the first premise of the kca (i.e., everything [i.e. every concrete, natural or supernatural, entity] that begins to exist has a cause [for its beginning]), as foundational properly basic beliefs. I emphatically reject epiphenomenalism and the physical closure principle. I would classify myself as an interactionist property dualist since I know that some of my so-called intentional states (e.g., purposes, beliefs) are causally efficacious by virtue of their mental content. However I am quite willing to acknowledge that a person who holds to something like the spiritual but naturally generated emergent self as described by William Hasker can be properly classified as a metaphysical naturalist (and could possibly be even a commonsensible one at that), provided that he also holds that this emergent self does not survive death. Like you, I agree that with the notion of a first philosophy that includes synthetic propositions constituting the foundational principles upon which the presuppositions of the natural sciences and inference in everyday life are based. And like you, I hold that the opinion that it is true, or even metaphysically possible, that the natural world has an uncaused absolute beginning is one that is counter-intuitively absurd in excelsis. On the other hand, of course, I maintain that the history of the natural world which is constituted by or that includes the history of this physical universe consists of denumerably infinite series of events of infinite duration. So I again challenge you to seriously consider and comprehensively respond to my two essays recently republished on the Secular Web.[3]

Sincerely yours,

Arnold T. Guminski

[1] A denumerably infinite set, whether of mathematical or real entities, is any set the members of which correspond one-to-one to the members of the infinite set of natural numbers (i.e., 1,2,3,….)

[2] The Secular Web editors deemed the original version of my second essay to have been peer-reviewed. However the just revised version of the essay was peer-reviewed by an anonymous referee for the Secular Web.

[3] In the interest of arousing public interest in my challenge to you, I am concurrently posting this letter on the reasonablefaith.com forums blog and the Secular Web blog (https://secularfrontier.infidels.orgt/).

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