bookmark_borderOff Topic: President U-Can-Grab-Them-By-The-Pussy

59 million Americans voted for a racist, sexist, bully and IDIOT to be their President.
It looks like 81% of Evangelicals voted to put a shit-head in charge of the most powerful military in the world, and to give him control over our potentially world-destroying nuclear weapons.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/11/09/exit-polls-show-white-evangelicals-voted-overwhelmingly-for-donald-trump/
I suppose it is no surprise that Evangelical Christians could be so incredibly stupid and so amazingly immoral.
I must mention that Norman Geisler, whose arguments for God I have been criticizing, was a vocal supporter of Donald Trump.   So, we can see in his example how unclear and illogical thinking about God carries over into unclear and illogical thinking about politics and government.  I hope that on Norman Geisler’s grave we will see this epitaph:

I was a big Trump supporter.  

I am so very sorry to have been such a shit-head.  

Please forgive me.  

Whatever the actual words on his tombstone,  I plan to piss on his grave when I get the chance.
We atheists and skeptics must never forget this horrible sin of Evangelical Christianity.  Donald Trump must be hung around the necks of all Evangelical Chrisitan believers, and especially around the necks of Evangelical Christian leaders who publically supported Trump for President.
It was no big surprise that Trump received his greatest support from uneducated white folk.  What is most disturbing, however, is that many college-educated women voted for Donald Trump, according to initial analysis of exit polls. If this is true, then I think there can be only one conclusion: college education in this country FAILS to promote critical thinking.
It has been clear for some time now that college education FAILS to teach even a minimal understanding of science.  Colleges and universities FAIL miserably to make students scientifically literate.  The same is now clearly true about critical thinking.  It is perhaps unfair to expect colleges and universities to undo the mind-numbing uncritical thinking that students generally are inculcated into in elementary school, middle school, and high school.  Four years is perhaps not enough time to undo the damage that our educational system does to the minds of our children.
However, teachers and professors who claim to be supportive of critical thinking (a) cannot give a clear explanation of what critical thinking is, (b) cannot give a clear description of the steps they take and practices and strategies they use to promote critical thinking, and (c) cannot specify how they assess the level of critical thinking in their students and whether their teaching has had any positive effect in improving the degree or level of critical thinking in their students.  The blind are leading the blind, and thus even college-educated women FAIL to think critically about who should be the leader of our country.
I am a skeptic, and I am a skeptic because I am a cynic.  I have a pessimistic view of human beings in general and of Americans in particular.  We are a nation of (at least) 59 million uncritical thinking sheep (and I imagine there are millions of uncritical thinking supporters of Clinton as well).  This election verifies my cynical view of the current state of humanity.  We are the irrational animal.
I still believe that education has the potential to change our species into rational animals, but I fear that so long as the blind are leading the blind in our colleges and universities,  we will continue to face the threat of racist, sexist, bullies and idiots becoming elected to powerful positions where they can continue to shit on all of us.

bookmark_borderDoes Theism Explain the Necessity of Moral Truths?

The book, Does God Exist? The Craig-Flew Debate, contains a transcript of the debate between William Lane Craig and Antony Flew, responses by eight commentators, and final responses by Craig and Flew. Many of the commentators, including some of the theists, sharply criticized Craig’s moral argument for God’s existence because, they argued, some moral truths are necessary truths and so do not need an explanation. Let’s call this objection UNMT (for ‘Unexplained Necessary Moral Truths’).
In his reply to commentators, as I read him, Craig replied as follows: (i) Christian theists who press the UNMT objection do not believe that God’s existence is logically necessary, whereas “the mainstream Christian tradition has held that God’s existence is broadly logically necessary, so that He can be the explanatory basis of necessary truths” (169). (ii) Necessary truths can stand in relations of explanatory priority to one another; indeed, there is such a thing as “explaining that (or why) a necessary truth is true” (169).
Allow me to explain. Let’s start with (i). Assume for the sake of argument that the proposition, Objective moral values exist, is true in every possible world but that the proposition, God exists, is not true in every possible world. In that case, God couldn’t be the explanation for objective moral values, since it would be impossible for a contingent truth (in this hypothetical, God’s existence) to explain a necessary truth (the existence of objective moral values). This hypothetical shows that, in order for it to be even possible for God’s existence to explain the existence of objective moral values, God’s existence has to be necessary. In other words, “Theism expresses a necessary proposition,” is itself a necessary (but not a sufficient) condition for God’s existence to explain necessary truths, including necessary truths about the existence of moral values.
As software engineers might say, this is a bug, not a feature, in Craig’s moral argument for God’s existence. If Craig’s moral argument requires that theism be a necessary proposition, then it is much more likely that theism is necessarily false (and so God cannot be the explanation for necessarily existing moral values) than that theism is necessarily true (and so it is possible that God might be the explanation for necessarily existing moral values). Why? Purdue University philosopher Paul Draper explains the point well.

Suppose that theism is not a contingent proposition. Then it is much more likely that it is necessarily false than that it is necessarily true. This is made clear by any objective comparison of the available reasons for thinking that theism is necessarily true to the available reasons for thinking that it is necessarily false. The former are limited to various versions of the ontological argument, which is almost universally rejected by philosophers. Indeed, even Plantinga admits that this argument fails to prove its conclusion. The latter include a whole host of serious arguments for the incoherence of theism. Keep in mind that I’m not convinced by these arguments for the necessary falsehood of theism, but they are clearly more persuasive collectively than the notoriously unpersuasive ontological argument. Further, theism asserts that the natural world was created by an omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect person, which assumes, not only that there is a maximum possible degree of power, knowledge, and moral goodness, but also that these three attributes are compatible with each other and with the existence of natural entities. Even ignoring specific arguments, clearly it is much more likely that some hidden incoherence lurks in the assertion that there exists a creator of nature possessing the highest possible degree of several distinct scaling properties than in the simple assertion that no such creator exists. Therefore, if I am mistaken and theism really is a necessary proposition, then it is very probably a necessary falsehood, which means that my assumption in my opening case that it is a contingent proposition is not only dialectically appropriate (for the reasons given in the previous paragraph), but dialectically generous. (LINK)

But let’s put that to the side and assume that God’s existence really is broadly logically necessary. If that were so, how would it follow that God’s (necessary) existence somehow explains the (necessary) existence of objective moral values?
A bit later in his response to commentators, Craig offers some clarification on the concept of a “moral value.” Regarding the metaethical position I call moral anti-reductionism (which Craig calls ‘atheistic moral Platonism’ but is far better known by the horrible label ‘non-naturalism’), Craig writes this:

First, it is difficult even to comprehend the Platonist view. What does it mean to say, for example, that the moral value Justice just exists? It is hard to know what to make of this. It is clear what is meant when it is said that a person is just; but is bewildering when it is said that, in the absence of any people, Justice itself exists. Moral values seem to exist as properties of persons, not as mere abstractions – or at any rate, it is hard to know what it is for a moral value to exist as a mere abstraction. (169, italics in last sentence mine)

Craig’s selection of “justice” as his example of a moral value is odd. Craig is aware of the distinction between moral values and moral duties; indeed, he emphasizes it in his writings. But most definitions of “justice” introduce the concept of law through the back door. For example, the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy begins its article on justice with the words:

Justice is one of the most important moral and political concepts.  The word comes from the Latin jus, meaning right or law.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines the “just” person as one who typically “does what is morally right” and is disposed to “giving everyone his or her due,” offering the word “fair” as a synonym. (LINK)

In this context, “law” and “right” (including “morally right”) are deontological (duty) concepts, not axiological (value) concepts. This muddies the waters; if we say that “justice” is a moral value, it seems to be a different animal from other moral values which don’t refer to deontological concepts in their very definition. Perhaps we might call “justice” a ‘second-order moral value,’ since it is a moral value which is conceptually dependent upon a deontological concept, and say that we want a first-order moral value, a value which doesn’t combine concepts. Fortunately, Craig provides other, neater examples: mercy, love, and forbearance (170).
Here I want to use moral values like mercy or love to show that God’s necessary existence is not a sufficient condition for explaining the necessary existence of moral values. If moral values like mercy or love “exist as properties of persons, not as mere abstractions,” it would seem that they are relational and so would require that two or more persons exist. But, even if we assume that (mere) theism is necessarily true, the proposition, “More than one person exists,” is a contingent proposition. Mere theism doesn’t entail Christian theism, which in turn means it does not entail the Christian doctrine of the trinity is true, and so it does not entail the existence of multiple divine persons. Furthermore, mere theism doesn’t entail the existence of any non-divine persons. So, even if it were the case that theism is necessarily true, it wouldn’t follow that more one person exists.
But if, “More than one person exists,” is a contingent proposition, this creates a problem for Divine Nature Theorists (DNT-ists) like Craig who want to argue that God’s nature explains all objective moral values, including relational moral values like love and mercy. Sure, there is a sense in which we can talk about a person loving themselves or having mercy on themselves, but I think it’s clear that not what people usually have in mind when they talk about “love” and “mercy” as moral values. (Besides, it’s hard to imagine how or why God would have “mercy” on Himself.) So if moral values are properties of persons; if some moral values are relational; and if “More than one person exists” is a contingent proposition, then there are possible worlds in which God exists but relational moral values do not exist. Thus, God’s existence, even God’s necessary existence, cannot explain necessary truths about all objective moral values because it cannot explain necessary truths about relational moral values. But that entails Craig’s moral argument fails.

bookmark_borderGeisler’s Five Ways – Part 6: Arguments for the Intelligence of the Creator

Here is my version of Geisler’s first argument in Phase 2 of his case for God:
ARGUMENT #1 OF PHASE 2
10a. Only a being with great power could create the whole universe by itself, and only a being with great power could sustain the existence of the whole universe by itself  (for even just one moment).
11a. There is a being that both (a) created the whole universe by itself (in the distant past), and that (b) sustains the existence of the whole universe by itself (right now).
THEREFORE:
12a. There is a being that created the whole universe by itself (in the distant past), and that being both (a) had great power (in the distant past) and (b) has great power (right now).

Premise
 (11a) presupposes the following two claims:
13. There is a being that created the whole universe by itself (in the distant past).
14. There is a being that sustains the existence of the whole universe by itself (right now).
Geisler believes that Argument #1 of Phase 1 proves (13) and that Argument #2 of Phase 1 proves (14), but in the previous post we saw that the inferences from the conclusions of the Phase 1 arguments to (13) and to (14) were logically invalid.  
I also noted that Geisler needed to prove that a being that caused the universe to begin to exist (in the distant past) must be the same being as a being that causes the universe to continue to exist (right now), but that Geisler provides no reason or argument supporting this critical assumption.  Thus, Geisler FAILED to provide a good reason or argument for all three assumptions supporting premise (11a).  Since premise (11a) is a controversial and questionable premise, and since we have been given no good reason to believe (11a), Geisler has FAILED to show that (12a) is true.
The conclusion of the second and third arguments in Phase 2 is implied in this sentence:
The argument from design shows us that whatever caused the universe not only had great power, but also great intelligence.  (WSA, p.26)
This sentence may appear to imply that the argument from design shows that whatever caused the universe had great power, but that is not what Geisler means.  He has just finished arguing that his cosmological arguments show that whatever caused the universe had great power, and now he is moving on to use the argument from design to show the additional claim that whatever caused the universe had great intelligence
Here is the second argument in Phase 2 of Geisler’s case for the existence of God:
ARGUMENT #2 of PHASE 2
21. “…the design of the universe is far beyond anything that man could devise.” (WSA, p.26)
22. IF the design of the universe is far beyond anything that man could devise, THEN the designer of the universe had great intelligence (when the universe was being designed).
THUS:
23. The designer of the universe had great intelligence (when the universe was being designed).
24. Whatever being caused the universe to begin to exist is also the designer of the universe.
THEREFORE:
25. Whatever being “caused the universe” to begin to exist “had great intelligence” (when the universe was being designed).  (WSA, p.26)
Here is a diagram of this argument (with the conclusion at the top, and the premises below it):
 Argument 2 of Phase 2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Geisler also provides another closely-related argument for the great intelligence of “God”:
ARGUMENT #3 of PHASE 2 (Geisler’s wording)
26. God “designed our brains.” (WSA, p.26)
27. IF God designed our brains, THEN “God…knows everything there is to know about the way we think…” (WSA, p.26)
THUS:
28. God knows everything there is to know about the way we think.
29. IF God knows everything there is to know about the way we think, THEN God had great intelligence.
THEREFORE:
30.  God had great intelligence.
If Geisler was using the word “God” in its ordinary sense, then premise (26) would clearly beg the question at issue, which is whether God exists.  So, Geisler is again using the word “God” in a non-standard way, and since he has failed to explain or define what he the hell he means by the word “God” in this argument, it is confusing and misleading to use the word “God” here.
Given that Geisler is attempting to make use of his argument from design, the most likely interpretation of the word “God” in this context is “the designer of the universe”. Furthermore, we need to clarify the time frames in these premises and conclusions, and it is clear that the time Geisler has in mind is the time when our brains were being designed.  
Here is my clarified version of this argument:
ARGUMENT #3 of PHASE 2 – Rev. A
26a. The designer of the universe designed our brains.
27a. IF the designer of the universe designed our brains, THEN the designer of the universe knew (when our brains were being designed) everything there is to know about the way we think.
THUS:
28a. The designer of the universe knew (when our brains were being designed) everything there is to know about the way we think.
29a. IF the designer of the universe knew (when our brains were being designed) everything there is to know about the way we think, THEN the designer of the universe had great intelligence (when our brains were being designed).
THUS:
30a. The designer of the universe had great intelligence (when our brains were being designed).
31. Whatever being caused the universe to begin to exist is also the designer of the universe.
THEREFORE:
32. Whatever being caused the universe to begin to exist had great intelligence (when our brains were being designed).

Here is a diagram of this argument (with the conclusion at the top, and the premises below it):

Argument 3 of Phase 2


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In the next post I will begin to evaluate these two arguments from Phase 2 of Geisler’s case for the existence of God.

bookmark_borderPseudo random thoughts on AA and free will

There are some atheists who would like to see references to God or a higher power dropped from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) materials.  I think it is clearly desirable for people to have recovery resources available to them that don’t mandate adherence to religious doctrines. But that’s not what I want to focus on. Instead, I just want to throw out some questions for consideration.
Suppose you are an alcoholic. You join AA and in reading the literature you are informed that you need to accept and rely on God in order to succeed in your quest for sobriety. What, exactly, is God’s role here? Is God being asked to miraculously remove your desire for alcohol? Is he being asked to restore your free will regarding alcohol? If you never lost it, then what are you doing admitting that you are powerless to resist alcohol?
If you ask God to give you the strength to do x, does that mean you are asking for God to give you less free will to do x? If not, and x is something that would be good to do, then why didn’t God give you the strength to do x to begin with?
The majority of people who enter AA fail to achieve sobriety. In fact, the success rate is only between 5% and 10%. If God is omnipotent, and is the one who ensures success in achieving sobriety, why is the success rate so low? There is something odd about trying to apply the standard free will, here. It doesn’t seem the low success rate can be blamed on the alcoholics for not choosing sobriety of their own free will. After all, the core idea is exactly that they are powerless, and need to turn things over to God. Frequently, alcoholism is referred to as a disease, and one reason for this is to avoid shaming the person and treating their alcoholism as resulting from bad character. Absolving God of responsibility for the low success rate of AA seems to shift the burden right back on the alcoholic. But then why not just blame the person from the start? And if alcoholics already have all the strength they need to stop drinking, then what is the point of asking God for strength? Shouldn’t the first step of AA be “Believe in yourself – that you have the strength you need to stop drinking.” But that would make the whole approach of AA quite different, wouldn’t it?
If an atheist joins AA, perhaps the atheist can say, “I am powerless to accept the existence of God, because the case for his existence is evidentially insufficient. Therefore, if God exists, I humbly ask that he will make me believe in him, so that I will be able to be sincere enough to ask that he help me stop drinking.” (Atheists Anonymous?)

bookmark_borderHow do you Spell “Hypocrite?” B-A-P-T-I-S-T

There was an excellent editorial in this morning’s Houston Chronicle concerning the still-growing sexual assault scandal at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. For anybody who does not follow college football, for decades the Baylor Bears were a laughingstock, a delicious cupcake for the real teams like UT, A & M, and Oklahoma, who would regularly pound them to the tune of 50-0. Then, praise Jesus, a miracle occurred. St. Art came to Baylor. The formidable head coach Art Briles arrived and soon Baylor was the hottest ticket in college football, running up ridiculous yardage and point totals on their erstwhile betters. Teams that had formerly blasted the hapless Bears while hardly breaking a sweat now watched in both horror and awe as green-clad and golden-helmed receivers scored one seemingly effortless touchdown after another. Blessed assurance; Art Briles was theirs. Football redemption was achieved.
Then the news about the sexual assaults broke. Seventeen women reported sexual or domestic violence cases involving nineteen Baylor athletes, most of them football players. That was just the beginning. Lawsuits have been filed by over a dozen former students—and counting. Patty Crawford, the former Title IX coordinator at Baylor reported to “Sixty Minutes Sports” that hundreds of students came to her with complaints of sexual assault in less than two years, but that, in the words of the Chronicle editorial:
“…the university chose to look the other way because football players were involved. The “Sixty Minutes Sports” investigation uncovered a culture that punished victims who came forward by accusing them of violating the university’s code of conduct which prohibits drinking and premarital sex. In other words, male athletes wearing gold BU letters and at least 17 young women threatened with letters of scarlet represented dueling religions on the Baylor Campus. Football and fundamentalist Christianity. Football won.”
That’s right. The gutless hypocrites who run Baylor did not enforce the code against athletes, but used it as a club to intimidate the victims of the assaults, whom they blamed for the scandals.
Yes, Baylor is a Southern Baptist institution. You know, Baptists: The ones who have so actively supported abstinence-only “sex ed” programs in the public schools. The ones who say that in marriage a man should be a humble, loving “servant leader,” whose respect for his spouse is boundless. You know, the ones who even thought that dancing was improper. The ones who endlessly and piously scolded the rest of us for our sexual laxity and moral flaccidness. Now we see that the One True God of the Baptists is not worshiped on Sundays in a building with an altar, steeple, and pews, but on Saturdays, in that Holy of Holies, the football stadium.
I hope the plaintiffs in the lawsuits win multiple millions. Big, big punitive damages. I hope that the Baylor football program will soon resume the doormat status it so richly deserves. “Whoever is playing Baylor” should immediately become a favorite team for any college football fan with a sense of decency.

bookmark_borderGeisler’s Five Ways – Part 5: The Gap Between Phase 1 and Phase 2

Here is my version of Geisler’s first argument in Phase 2 of his case for God:
 

ARGUMENT #1 OF PHASE 2
 

10a. Only a being with great power could create the whole universe by itself, and only a being with great power could sustain the existence of the whole universe by itself  (for even just one moment).
 
11a. There is a being that both (a) created the whole universe by itself (in the distant past), and that (b) sustains the existence of the whole universe by itself (right now).
 
THEREFORE:
 
12a. There is a being that created the whole universe by itself (in the distant past), and that being both (a) had great power (in the distant past) and (b) has great power (right now).

Premise (10a) has some initial plausibility, so I can understand why Geisler does not provide an argument in support of that premise.  
Premise (11a), however, is clearly a controversial and questionable claim, so he needs to provide reasosns or arguments to support (11a).  But NONE of Geisler’s five initial arguments proves that (11a) is true.  However, premise (11a) presupposes the following two claims:
 

13. There is a being that created the whole universe by itself (in the distant past).
 
14. There is a being that sustains the existence of the whole universe by itself (right now).
 
Geisler would presumably claim that his first argument from Phase 1 can be used to prove (13) and that his second argument from Phase 1 can be used to prove (14).  But if we take a closer look at those two arguments, it will become clear that they do not show that (13) is true, nor that (14) is true.
 

Let’s take a look at the first argument that Geisler presents in Phase 1 of his case (WSA, p.16) :
 

ARGUMENT #1 OF PHASE 1
 

16. The universe had a beginning (in the distant past).

17. Anything that has a beginning must have been caused to begin to exist by something else.
 

THEREFORE:

1. The universe was caused to begin to exist (in the distant past) by something else.
 

Premise (17) is ambiguous in terms of the quantification implied by the phrase “caused by something else”. Here are two different interpretations of premise (17):

17a.  Anything that has a beginning must have been caused to begin to exist by exactly one other thing or being.
 

17b. Anything that has a beginning must have been caused to begin to exist by at least one other thing or being.
 

I am something that had a beginning, and my beginning was caused by TWO other beings: my mother and my father.  So, it appears that (17a) is a FALSE generalization.  If Geisler had intended premise (17) to refer to “exactly one” being, as spelled out in (17a), then the second premise of his first argument is FALSE, and that argument is thus UNSOUND.

However, we can be charitable and assume that what Geisler had in mind was (17b), which is not subject to the counterexample that I just gave.  If we interpret premise (17) to mean what is stated in (17b), then we need to also revise the conclusion, so that it follows logically from the combination of (16) and (17b):
 

ARGUMENT #1 OF PHASE 1 – Revised
 

16. The universe had a beginning (in the distant past).
 
17b. Anything that has a beginning must have been caused to begin to exist by at least one other thing or being.
 
THEREFORE:
 
1a. The universe was caused to begin to exist (in the distant past) by at least one thing or being other than the universe. 
 

This conclusion, however, falls short of showing the truth of the assumption that Geisler needed to prove:
 

13. There is a being that created the whole universe by itself (in the distant past).
 

The conclusion (1a) does not imply claim (13),  because (1a) does NOT say that the universe was caused to begin to exist by exactly one thing or being, so (1b) leaves open the possibility that many beings caused the universe to begin to exist.  If many beings caused the universe to begin to exist, then it would be false to say that some particular being created the whole universe by itself.  Thus,  Geisler’s first argument in Phase 1 FAILS to provide needed support for premise (13), so it also FAILS to provide needed support for premise (11a) in the first argument of Phase 2.
 

Furthermore, (1b) talks about the cause of the universe; it does not talk about what created the universe.  If a being “created” the universe by itself, then that being also caused the universe to come into existence, but the reverse is not necessarily the case.  If a thing or  being “caused” the universe to come into existence, that thing or being might not be the creator of the universe.
 

We can, for example, imagine one being causing the basic matter of the universe to come into existence, and another being orgainzing that matter into stars and planets, and solar systems and galaxies.  The being who caused the matter of the univese to come into existence would not be the creator of our universe, in that the major astronomical components of our universe were not brought into existence by that being.  The being who took the raw materials provided by the frst being and organized that matter into stars, planets, solar systems, and galaxies, might, however, be justifiably called the “creator” of our universe.  

Or, possibly, neither of these beings would be accurately described by the term “the creator of the universe”, because they might both be considered “partially responsible” for the origin of our universe, in which case it seems misleading to call either being “the creator”.  In any case, the cause of the beginning of the universe need not be “the creator” of the universe, so we cannot legitimately infer (13) from (1b).

The first argument from Geisler’s Phase 1 fails to support premise (11b) in the first argument of Phase 2 of his case for God. There is clearly a logical gap between the conclusion of the first argument of Phase 1 and the premise (11b) of the first argument of Phase 2. The former argument FAILS to establish the truth of claim (13), and thus FAILS to provide support for premise (11b). What about claim (14)?  Does the second argument in Phase 1 of Geisler’s case show that claim (14) is true?  Let’s take a closer look at the second argument in Phase 1 of Geisler’s case (WSA, p.18-19):


ARGUMENT #2 OF PHASE 1

18. Finite, changing things exist.
19. Every finite, changing thing must be caused by something else.
20. There cannot be an infinite regress of these causes.
THEREFORE:
2. There is a first uncaused cause of every finite, changing thing that exists.
 
Here is my (partially) clarified version of this argument:
ARGUMENT #2 OF PHASE 1 – Rev. A
18a. Finite, changing things exist (right now).
19a. The current existence of every finite, changing thing that exists (right now) must be caused by something else that exists (right now).
20a. There cannot be an infinite regress of these causes (of current existence).
THEREFORE:
2a. There is a first uncaused cause that exists (right now) of the current existence of every finite, changing thing that exists (right now).
I have previously stated that the conclusion of this second argument in Phase 1 of Geisler’s case is ambiguous and has two different meanings.  But in fact, it has at least four different meanings, because there are two different ambiguities in the conclusion (2a).  
Here are the four different interpretations of the conclusion (2a):
2b. There is exactly one first uncaused cause that exists (right now) for the current existence of each finite, changing thing that exists (right now).
2c. There is exactly one first uncaused cause that exists (right now) for the current existence of all finite, changing things that exist (right now).
2d. There is at least one first uncaused cause that exists (right now) for the current existence of each finite, changing thing that exists (right now).
2e. There is at least one first uncaused cause that exists (right now) for the current existence of all finite, changing things that exist (right now).
The interpretations that speak of “exactly one” uncaused cause, should be rejected, because the argument cannot plausibly support such strong conclusions.  For premise (19a) to be plausible, it must leave open the possibility that two or more things could work together to cause the current existence of a finite, changing thing.  If one were to interpret (19a) as implying that there can only be exactly one being that is the uncaused cause of a particular finite, changing being that exists (right now), then (19a) should be rejected as an implausible claim, and thus this second argument should be rejected as well.  
The Argument #2 of Phase 1 only has a hope of being acceptable if we interpret (19a) as leaving open the possibility that two or more things or beings could work together to cause the current existence of a finite, changing thing.  Therefore, since the conclusions (2b) and (2c) do NOT logically follow from this argument, given that interpretation of (19a), we should reject interpretations (2b) and (2c).  
That leaves us with interpretations (2d) and (2e).   Interpretation (2e) should be rejected for the same sort of reason that we rejected interpretations (2b) and (2c), namely, that this would require an understanding of the meaning of (19a) that would make that premise implausible:
19b. The current existence of all finite, changing things that exist (right now) must be caused by at least one other thing or being that exists (right now).
This premise asserts that ALL of the trillions of trillions of bits of finite, changing matter that make up the universe (right now) are being caused to continue to exist by at least one thing or being.  But it is clearly conceivable and logically possible that SOME  of the trillions of bits of finite, changing matter that make up the universe (right now) are being caused to continue to exist by one thing, let’s call it “Thing 1” and that OTHER bits of finite, changing matter that make up the universe (right now) are being caused to continue to exist by some different thing, let’s call it “Thing 2”.  Geisler has given us no reason whatsoever to reject this scenario as logically impossible, and there is no obvious reason to think it is logically impossible, so we should reject (19b) as a dubious and probably false claim, and thus reject Argument #2 of Phase 1, if premise (19) is interpreted as meaning what is stated in (19b).  Thus, Argument #2 of Phase 1 cannot be used to provide solid support for conclusion (2e).  
That leaves us with just one possible interpretation of the conclusion: (2d).  Here is my best and final clarification of this argument:
ARGUMENT #2 OF PHASE 1 – Rev. B
18a. Finite, changing things exist (right now).
19c. The current existence of each finite, changing thing that exists (right now) must be caused by at least one other thing or being that exists (right now).
20a. There cannot be an infinite regress of these causes (of current existence).
THEREFORE:
2d. There is at least one first uncaused cause that exists (right now) for the current existence of each finite, changing thing that exists (right now).  
One could still object to (19c) as being in need of a supporting reason or argument, but it is at least a bit more plausible than the other interpretations of premise (19) that we have considered.  Given this interpretation of premise (19), the conclusion that is logically entailed by Argument #2 of Phase 1 leaves open the possibility that there are MANY (perhaps even trillions) of first uncaused causes of the current existence of the trillions of trillions of bits of finite, changing matter that make up the universe (right now).  Becuase conclusion (2d) FAILS to rule out this possibility, it also FAILS to provide proof of claim (14):
14. There is a being that sustains the existence of the whole universe by itself (right now).  
In conclusion, ARGUMENT #1 of Phase 1 FAILS to prove (13), and ARGUMENT #2 of Phase 1 FAILS to prove (14), so neither of these arguments help to prove premise (11a) of ARGUMENT #1 of Phase 2.  Therefore, there is a serious logical GAP between Geisler’s arguments in Phase 1, and a key controversial premise of a key argument in Phase 2 of Geisler’s case for the existence of God.  
Geisler believes that the first two arguments of Phase 1 support this key premise of the first argument of Phase 2, but he is wrong. Once we clarify the meanings of the premises and conclusions of these various arguments, it becomes obvious that Geisler’s case for the existence of God is logically invalid.  (2d) does NOT imply (14), and (1a) does NOT imply (13).  Geisler’s case for God thus rests on a questionable premise for which he has FAILED to provide a good reason or sound argument, namely premise (11a) in ARGUMENT #1 of Phase 2.
Part of Geislers Case for God
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
NOTE:
Premise (15) is a placeholder for one or more claims that when taken together show that a being that created the whole universe by itself (in the distant past) and a being that sustains the current existence of the whole universe by itself (right now) must be the same being.  Geisler does not give us any reason to believe these beings are the same being.  
Later on, he does argue that there can be only ONE being of infinite power and infinite knowledge, but that argument presupposes the truth of (11a) and (12a) and thus is of no help in proving the truth of (11a) at this earlier stage of his case.