bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part 17: Analysis of Argument #4

MOVING ON TO KREEFT’S VERSION
In Peter Kreeft’s case for God, in Chapter 3 of Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA), his fourth argument is based on the fourth way of Aquinas.  Kreeft’s Argument #4 is the Argument from Degrees of Perfection.  Because Aquinas’s version of this argument is clearer and more straightforward than Kreeft’s version, I began by analyzing and evaluating Aquinas’s fourth way (see Part 16 of this series).  I discovered some serious problems with Aquinas’s version of this argument, and rejected that argument.  It is now time to try to analyze and to understand Kreeft’s version of this argument.
 
THE INITIAL INFERENCE IN ARGUMENT #4
An important part of Argument #4 is implied by a single complex sentence in Kreeft’s presentation of this argument. Let’s call this premise (1):

1. But if these degrees of perfection pertain to being and being is caused in finite creatures, then there must exist a “best,” a source and real standard of all the perfections that we recognize belong to us as beings. (HCA, p.55)

Premise (1) can be cleaned up a bit, to make it more succinct:

1a. IF these degrees of perfection pertain to being and being is caused in finite creatures, THEN there exists a source and real standard of all the perfections that pertain to being.

The word “But” at the beginning of the sentence is unnecessary.  The word “must” simply indicates a logical implication, and so it is unnecessary.  The phrase “a ‘best'” is unnecessary because it is immediately defined by the following phrase “a source and real standard of all the perfections…”.  The phrase “that we recognize belong to us as beings” can be replaced by the shorter phrase “that pertain to being”.
Premise (1a) has the following logical structure:

IF A and B, THEN C.

This suggests the logical structure of a key initial inference in Argument #4:

A

B

IF A and B, THEN C

THEREFORE:

C

Let’s put the appropriate statements into this structure:

A. These degrees of perfection pertain to being.

B. Being is caused in finite creatures.

1a. IF these degrees of perfection pertain to being and being is caused in finite creatures, THEN there exists a source and real standard of all the perfections that pertain to being.

THEREFORE:

C. There exists a source and real standard of all the perfections that pertain to being.

 
THE FINAL INFERENCE IN ARGUMENT #4
Kreeft’s versions of the Five Ways of Aquinas, especially Ways 1, 2, 3, and 5, are all complete FAILURES, because Kreeft does not bother to support the most important premises in those arguments, namely the premises that link the existence of some alleged metaphysical being (e.g. “unmoved mover” or “first efficient cause”, etc.) to the existence of God.  Kreeft hints at the most important premise of Argument #4 in another sentence; let’s call this premise (2):

2. This absolutely perfect being…is God.  (HCA, p.55)

This most important premise of Argument #4 is best stated as a conditional claim:

2a. IF an absolutely perfect being exists, THEN God exists.

This conditional claim is a key piece of the final inference in Argument #4:

2a. IF an absolutely perfect being exists, THEN God exists.

D. An absolutely perfect being exists.

THEREFORE:

E. God exists.

 
THE LOGIC IN THE MIDDLE OF ARGUMENT #4
We now know the initial inference of Argument #4, i.e. the sub-argument for (C), and we know the final inference of Argument #4, i.e. the sub-argument for (E), but we are missing the logic in the middle of this argument, the connection between the initial inference and the final inference.
The connection is clearly that premise (C), the conclusion of the initial inference, provides support for premise (D), a premise in the final inference. Since it is not immediately obvious that (C) logically implies (D), we should explicitly state a premise that asserts that there is this logical relationship between (C) and (D):

F. IF there exists a source and real standard of all the perfections that pertain to being, THEN an absolutely perfect being exists.

So, the logic in the middle of Argument #4 goes like this:

F. IF there exists a source and real standard of all the perfections that that pertain to being, THEN an absolutely perfect being exists.

C. There exists a source and real standard of all the perfections that pertain to being.

THEREFORE:

D. An absolutely perfect being exists.

 
THE LOGICAL STRUCTURE OF ARGUMENT#4
Now we can show the full logical structure of Argument #4, especially how the initial inference is connected to the final inference by an inference in the middle of this argument (click on the image below for a clearer view of the argument diagram):

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Note that out of the eight statements that make up this argument, only two statements were made explicitly by Kreeft.  Three-fourths of this argument was left UNSTATED.  Not exactly a great job of clarifying the Fourth Way of Aquinas.
 
NEXT STEPS
Now that we know the logical structure of Argument #4, the next steps are to figure out the meanings of the premises of this argument:

  • What is a “perfection”?
  • What sort of perfections are those that “pertain to being”?
  • What is a “finite creature”?
  • What does it mean to say that “being is caused in” something? 
  • What is an “absolutely perfect being”?
  • What constitutes “a source and real standard” of a perfection?

There is not a SINGLE premise in Argument #4 that has a CLEAR meaning.  Each and every premise in this argument uses odd or technical terms, and is thus UNCLEAR as it stands.

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part 16: Aquinas’s Way #4

WHERE WE ARE AT WITH THE FIRST FIVE ARGUMENTS
For the first five arguments in his case for God, Peter Kreeft makes use of the Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas.  Kreeft’s versions of four of those Five Ways are complete failures, because he does not bother to provide any support for the most important premises of those arguments.  Thus, we can reasonably toss aside Argument #1, Argument #2, Argument #3, and Argument #5, for this reason alone.
Kreeft does slightly better with Argument #4, the Argument from Degrees of Perfection,  because he provides at least a hint about a line of reasoning that could be used to support the most important premise of Argument #4:

D. IF an absolutely perfect being exists, THEN God exists.

Furthermore, in my view this key premise has significantly greater initial plausibility than the analogous key premises in the other arguments based on the Five Ways of Aquinas.  For this reason, Argument #4 is the ONLY argument in the Five Ways that has any chance of being a strong and solid argument for the existence of God.  So, I am going to take a closer look this argument, and will not toss it aside until I have examined it in more detail and found it to be a weak or defective argument.
 
THE ARGUMENT AS PRESENTED BY AQUINAS
Kreeft is supposed to be CLARIFYING the arguments of Aquinas, and making them understandable for a general audience, but in this case he makes the argument UNCLEAR and more difficult to understand.  The Argument from Degrees of Perfection is fairly clear as presented by Aquinas, and it is fairly UNCLEAR as presented by Kreeft, so I will begin by focusing on the argument as presented by Aquinas, and then move on to try to figure out what the hell Kreeft’s version of this argument means.
Aquinas’s statement of the argument is quoted in full in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition (see “Degrees of Perfection, Argument for the Existence of God” in Volume 2):
The fourth way is based on the gradation observed in things.  Some things are found to be more good, more true, more noble, and so on, and other things less.  But comparative terms describe varying degrees of approximation to a superlative; for example,  things are hotter and hotter the nearer they approach what is hottest.  Something therefore is the truest and best and most noble of things, and hence the most fully in being; for Aristotle says that the truest things are the things most fully in being.  Now when many things possess some property in common, the one most fully possessing it causes it in the others: fire, to use Aristotle’s example, the hottest of all things, causes all other things to be hot.  There is something therefore which causes in all other things their being, their goodness, and whatever other perfections they have.  And this we call God.   (Summa Theologica Ia, 2, 3)
 
Here are the main premises of Aquinas’s argument quoted above:

1. Some things are found to be more good, more true, more noble, and so on, and other things less. 

2. Comparative terms describe varying degrees of approximation to a superlative.

3. Something…is the truest and best and most noble of things.

4. When many things possess some property in common, the one most fully possessing it causes it in the others.

5. There is something…which causes in all other things…their goodness, and whatever other perfections they have. 

6. This we call God.

As it stands, this argument is irrelevant to the question “Does God exist?”.  In order to make this argument relevant to the question at issue, we need to revise premise (6), and state the actual conclusion.  Here is the final inference in the clarified argument:

5.  There is something…which causes in all other things…their goodness, and whatever other perfections they have. 

6a. IF there is something…which causes in all other things…their goodness, and whatever other perfections they have, THEN God exists.

THEREFORE:

A. God exists.

Premises (3) and (4) are given in support of premise (5):

3. Something…is the truest and best and most noble of things.

4. When many things possess some property in common, the one most fully possessing it causes it in the others.

THEREFORE:

5. There is something…which causes in all other things…their goodness, and whatever other perfections they have. 

Premises (1) and (2) are given in support of premise (3):

1. Some things are found to be more good, more true, more noble, and so on, and other things less. 

2. Comparative terms describe varying degrees of approximation to a superlative.

THEREFORE:

3. Something…is the truest and best and most noble of things.

 
AMBIGUITY IN PREMISE (3)
Aquinas and his followers are, for some reason, unable to use the word “something” without committing the fallacy of EQUIVOCATION.  (Suggestion: Thomists should not be allowed to use this word in a philosophical argument for the next seven centuries.)  Aquinas uses the word “something” ambiguously in premise (3):

3. Something…is the truest and best and most noble of things.

This premise has at least four different meanings:

3a.  At least one thing is the truest of things AND at least one thing is the best of things AND at least one thing is the most noble of things.

3b.  At least one thing is the truest of things and is also the best of things and is also the most noble of things.

3c.  Exactly one thing is the truest of things AND exactly one thing is the best of things AND exactly one thing is the most noble of things.

3d.  Exactly one thing is the truest of things and is also the best of things and is also the most noble of things.

There are actually more meanings of premise (3) than just these four interpretations, because the terms “truest” and “best” and “most noble” are themselves ambiguous.  It is not clear whether there can be TWO or more “best” of things.  In other words, does Aquinas allow for a tie for first place?  On one interpretation of “best” there can be only ONE thing that is best, and so if two things are better than everything else, but neither one is better than the other, then there is NO best of things, on that interpretation of the word “best”.
Aquinas commits the fallacy of EQUIVOCATION in this reasoning, based on the ambiguity of premise (3).  The sub-argument is clearly insufficient to prove the strong claim made in (3d).  At best, the sub-argument supports the weak claim made in (3a).  But Aquinas needs the stronger claim made in (3d) for the rest of his argument to work.  Premise (3a) is too weak to provide support for premise (5).  The sub-argument for (3) is either INVALID and fails to prove the strong claim (3d), or else it is VALID but proves only the weak claim (3a), which is not adequate to support premise (5).  Therefore, either the sub-argument for (3) is INVALID, or else the sub-argument for (5) is INVALID.
 
CLARIFICATION OF PREMISE (5)
If we look at the wording of premise (5) taken by itself, ignoring the context, then it too uses the word “something” ambiguously, and it can be given at least two different interpretations:

5a. There is at least one thing…which causes in all other things…their goodness, and whatever other perfections they have. 

5b. There is exactly one thing…which causes in all other things…their goodness, and whatever other perfections they have. 

It does seem a bit odd, however, that there could be TWO (or more) things which cause “in all other things…their goodness…”, because then these ultimate causes of goodness would also be causing each other’s goodness, and there might be some logical contradiction involved in that scenario.  But there is another better reason to eliminate interpretation (5a).  In context, it is clear that Aquinas is referring to just ONE thing:
There is something therefore which causes in all other things their being, their goodness, and whatever other perfections they have.  And this we call God (emphasis added)
The pronoun “this” clearly implies that the word “something” in the previous sentence means EXACTLY ONE thing.  Furthermore, calling something “God” also implies that he is referring to EXACTLY ONE thing, because “God” is a proper noun, the name of an individual being.   So, in context, premise (5) clearly is making the stronger claim (5b).  In order to avoid a similar ambiguity with premise (6), that premise should be revised to use the same clear quantification language as in (5b):

5b. There is exactly one thing…which causes in all other things…their goodness, and whatever other perfections they have. 

6b. IF there is exactly one thing…which causes in all other things…their goodness, and whatever other perfections they have, THEN God exists.

THEREFORE:

A. God exists.

 
THE SUB-ARGUMENT FOR PREMISE (5b)
We can now clearly state the sub-argument for premise (5b):

3a.  At least one thing is the truest of things AND at least one thing is the best of things AND at least one thing is the most noble of things.

4. When many things possess some property in common, the one most fully possessing it causes it in the others.

THEREFORE:

5b. There is exactly one thing…which causes in all other things…their goodness, and whatever other perfections they have. 

Now that we have clarified the meanings of premises (3) and (5), it becomes obvious that this sub-argument is INVALID.  All that can legitimately be inferred from (3a) and (4) is that the truest of things causes truth in other things that are less true, and that the best of things causes goodness in other things that are less good, and that the most noble of things causes nobility in other things that are less noble.  We cannot infer that there is EXACTLY ONE thing which causes ALL perfections in everything else.
Premise (4) is pretty obviously FALSE, as well.  Aquinas gives the example of fire causing heat in other things that are less hot than fire.  But this is clearly a HASTY GENERALIZATION.   First of all, the example doesn’t work at all, because fire is NOT a thing.  Fire is a KIND of thing.  There are many fires, many instances of fire.  Second, specific instances of fire are NOT the hottest thing there is.  Some instances of fire are hotter than other instances of fire.  Also, some physical objects can become hotter than some instances of fire.  Finally, fire is NOT the only cause of heat in things.  Heat can also be caused by friction, and by the flow of electricity.  Fire is basically a rapid form of oxidation, which is different from friction and from the flow of electricity.  The evidence that Aquinas gives in support of (4) FAILS to support (4), and we cannot reasonably draw a universal conclusion from a single alleged example.
Coaches are not necessarily the very best players of the sport they coach.  So, a football coach can be a worse football player than the players that he coaches.  But that means that a cause of the excellence of some of the best football players might well be a worse football player than they are.   
Charcoal can be used to filter water, to make water more pure.  But after using a charcoal filter to purify water for a while, the filter becomes less pure than the water.  Even so, the charcoal filter can continue to be used to purify the water, at least for some additional period of time.  In that period of time, the filter is less pure than the water that it is being used to purify.   
The cause of an oak tree is a tiny acorn.  The largeness of the oak tree is thus caused by something that is much smaller than the oak tree, not by something that is larger than the oak tree, and certainly not by the largest thing that has ever existed. The size of the blast from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was much larger than the bomb that caused the blast.  Therefore, the largeness of the blast was caused by something much smaller than the blast, and not by something that was much larger than the blast.
There are many counterexamples to the universal generalization made in premise (4), so we can reasonably conclude that (4) is false.
Therefore, the sub-argument for (5b) is definitely UNSOUND, because it contains an INVALID inference, and because it is based on a FALSE premise.
 
EVALUATION OF PREMISE (3a)
Here is the sub-argument for (3a):

1. Some things are found to be more good, more true, more noble, and so on, and other things less. 

2. Comparative terms describe varying degrees of approximation to a superlative.

THEREFORE:

3a. At least one thing is the truest of things AND at least one thing is the best of things AND at least one thing is the most noble of things.

This sub-argument is clearly INVALID.  That is, as stated it is formally INVALID.  It might well be possible to re-state this sub-argument in a way that is formally VALID.  I think premise (2) can be reasonably viewed as support for an unstated premise that would make the argument VALID:

1. Some things are found to be more good, more true, more noble, and so on, and other things less. 

B. If one thing has more of quality X than another thing, then there is at least one thing that has the most of quality X.

THEREFORE:

3a. At least one thing is the truest of things AND at least one thing is the best of things AND at least one thing is the most noble of things.

Premise (2) is a reason given in support of the unstated assumption (B), which makes the argument VALID.  (Actually, the argument still is not quite formally valid, but it is easier to see that this revised argument is deductively valid and that it could be revised to make it formally valid.)
Let’s suppose that Aquinas allows for there to be a tie for first place, that there could be two “best” things, for example.  It seems as if (B) is an analytic truth, and thus it would not matter whether premise (2) actually implies or provides a good reason for (B).
If there are various things that have quality X, and at least one of those things has more of that quality than one of the other things, then it seems like there MUST be one or more things in that set of things that has “the most” of quality X.  Some people are taller than other people, so there MUST be at least one person who is the tallest person (perhaps there are many people tied for being the tallest person).  Some cars are faster than other cars, so there MUST be at least one car that is the fastest car (perhaps there are several cars that would tie for being the fastest car).
Although (B) appears to be an analytic truth, it is actually an analytic FALSEHOOD.  It is an analytic falsehood, because it is a universal generalization that has a counterexample that is a necessary truth:
Some integers are greater than other integers, but there is no greatest integer.
So, (B) is a false universal generalization in all possible worlds.
Besides being a necessary falsehood, (B) also is clearly too weak to be of use in the rest of Aquinas’s argument, a weakness that is passed on to premise (3a), making (3a) inadequate to support premise (5b).
Suppose that only two persons exist, and that one person is Satan and the other is Adolf Hitler.  In this world, it would presumably be the case that Hitler was a better person than Satan, because Hitler is presumably not as wicked and evil as Satan.  Since Hitler is better than Satan, if these were the only two persons in existence, then Hitler would be the best person.  Big Freaking Deal!  In this world, there is a best person but that person is a horrible and very evil person, NOT a perfectly good person, and NOT God.
So, premise (B) and premise (3a) can only be used to show that there is at least one thing that has “the most” of some good quality, but that is logically compatible with this thing having only a tiny smidgen of that good quality,  and thus falling miles and miles short of divine perfection.
 
EVALUATION OF PREMISE (6b)
The single most important premise in the Argument from Degrees of Perfection as presented by Aquinas is the premise that links the idea of a single cause of all perfections to the idea of God:

6b. IF there is exactly one thing…which causes in all other things…their goodness, and whatever other perfections they have, THEN God exists.

Aquinas provides no support for this premise in the Five Ways passage.  He does continue his case for God for over a hundred more pages after the Five Ways passage, so one could probably construct a line of reasoning from those later passages in support of (6b).  I won’t make that attempt here.  I’m just going to evaluate (6b) as it stands.
Premise (6b) is very dubious because, as we saw in our examination of premise (4), the cause of a property in thing X does NOT need to have that property to a greater degree than thing X.  A coach can cause a football player to become a better player than the coach is or ever was.  A charcoal filter can be less pure than the water it causes to become purified.  A tiny acorn can cause an oak tree that is much larger than the acorn.   A small atomic bomb can cause a blast that is much larger than the bomb.  Because (4) is clearly FALSE, (6b) is very questionable.  The cause of goodness in all things need NOT be better than any of the things it causes to be good.  The cause of knowledge in other beings need NOT have more knowledge than those beings it causes to have knowledge.  The cause of the power of other things need NOT be more powerful than those things to which it gives power.
Because (4) is FALSE, it appears to me that (6b) is also FALSE.  Premise (6b) implies a logically necessary connection between causing goodness in other things and possessing maximal or unlimited goodness, but there is no such logically necessary connection, at least none that I can discern.
 
CONCLUSION
Click on the image below for a clearer view of the argument diagram of the logical structure of Aquinas’s Way #4 argument:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Although Aquinas’s version of the Argument from Degrees of Perfection is clearer than Kreeft’s version, it still contains some serious ambiguities, and it turns out to be a very crappy argument, full of serious problems.
The sub-argument for (5b) is clearly UNSOUND; the inference is INVALID, and premise (4) is FALSE.
The most important premise of the argument is premise (6b), and because premise (4) is FALSE, this gives us good reason to believe that (6b) is also FALSE.
The final inference in the argument is VALID but this part of the argument is probably UNSOUND because (5b) is dubious (supported by an INVALID sub-argument with a FALSE premise), and (6b) appears to be FALSE:

5b. There is exactly one thing…which causes in all other things…their goodness, and whatever other perfections they have. 

6b. IF there is exactly one thing…which causes in all other things…their goodness, and whatever other perfections they have, THEN God exists.

THEREFORE:

A. God exists.

 

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part 15: Three More Thomist Arguments

EVALUATION OF KREEFT’S CASE SO FAR
In Part 1 through Part 8, I reviewed the last ten arguments in Peter Kreeft’s case for God in Chapter 3 his Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA), and I concluded in Part 9 that they provided ZERO evidence for the existence of God:
Of the last ten arguments in Kreeft’s case,  I have shown that eight arguments (80%) were AWFUL arguments that are unworthy of serious consideration.  Only two of these ten arguments seemed worthy of serious consideration: Argument #12 and Argument #19.  After careful analysis and evaluation, I concluded that Argument #12 was a BAD argument that provided ZERO support for the claim that God exists, and I concluded that Argument #19 was based on a FALSE premise and also on a dubious premise.  Thus, all ten arguments in the second half of Kreeft’s case for God (i.e. 100%  of those arguments) are BAD arguments, and they fail to provide any good reason to believe that God exists.  
Starting in Part 9, I began to examine the first five arguments in Kreeft’s case for God, which Kreeft appears to believe are among the strongest and best arguments for the existence of God.
In Part 12, I concluded that Argument #1 (the Argument from Change) was another bad argument:
In short, the Argument from Change, one of the five first arguments for the existence of God in Kreeft’s case for God, an argument which is presumably one of the strongest and best arguments for God (in Kreeft’s view), is an UNSOUND argument that is based on two key premises that are both FALSE.
In Part 14, I concluded that Argument #2 (the Argument from Efficient Causality) was yet another bad argument:
Argument #2 clearly FAILS, because Kreeft fails to state or to support the single most important premise of the argument…and because Kreeft supports the second most important premise of the argument with a dubious inference that appears to be invalid, namely the inference from (5a) to (6a).
I have examined twelve out of the twenty arguments in Kreeft’s case for God, and ALL twelve arguments are bad arguments and they FAIL to provide a good reason to believe that God exists.
 
EVALUATION OF THE THREE REMAINING ARGUMENTS FROM AQUINAS
Given Kreeft’s pathetic track record, it appears that he is clueless as to what sort of argument would constitute a strong and solid argument for the existence of God, so I did not expect him to do any better with the remaining three arguments that he borrows from Aquinas.
In Argument #3, the Argument from Time and Contingency, Kreeft argues for the existence of “an absolutely necessary being.”  He does also strongly hint at the single most important premise of this argument:

This absolutely necessary being is God.  (HCA, p.53)

The most important premise of the argument is best stated as a conditional claim:

A. IF an absolutely necessary being exists, THEN God exists.

Kreeft provides NO SUPPORT for premise (A), so Argument #3 is another FAILED argument for the existence of God.
In Argument #5, the Design Argument, Kreeft argues for the existence of “an intelligent designer” of the universe.  The conclusion of Argument #5 is stated as follows:

Therefore the universe is the product of an intelligent Designer.  (HCA, p.56)

Note that the word “God” doesn’t appear in this stated conclusion.  So, in order to make Argument #5 relevant to the question at issue, we have to fill in an unstated premise, and make the ultimate conclusion of this argument explicit:

6. The universe is the product of an intelligent designer.

B. IF the universe is the product of an intelligent designer, THEN God exists.

THEREFORE:

C. God exists.

The most important premise in Argument #5 is premise (B), but Kreeft provides NO SUPPORT for the unstated premise (B).  Thus, Argument #5 is yet another FAILED argument for God.
Argument #3 and Argument #5 FAIL for the same reasons that Argument #1 and Argument #2 FAILED:  Kreeft does not bother to SUPPORT the most important premise in each of these arguments, namely the premise that links his stated conclusion to the conclusion that actually matters: “God exists.” Based on Kreeft’s pathetic track record, and based on the fact that he continues to repeat the same huge blunder as he did in Argument #1 and Argument #2, we can quickly toss aside Argument #3 and Argument #5.
In Argument #4, the Argument from Degrees of Perfection, Kreeft argues for the existence of an “absolutely perfect being”.  He does strongly hint at the single most important premise of this argument:

This absolutely perfect being…is God. (HCA, p.55)

The most important premise of this argument is best stated as a conditional claim:

D. IF an absolutely perfect being exists, THEN God exists.

Kreeft provides very little support for premise (D), so Argument #4 could reasonably be set aside as yet one more FAILED argument for the existence of God.  However, Kreeft does briefly hint at a line of reasoning that could be used to support (D), and it seems to me that (D) is more plausible than any of the other key premises that Kreeft failed to support in the other four Thomistic arguments:

  • IF there is exactly ONE being outside the material universe and that being is the unchanging Source of  change, THEN God exists.
  • IF there is an uncaused cause of the present existence of other beings, THEN God exists.
  • IF an absolutely necessary being exists, THEN God exists.
  • IF the universe is the product of an intelligent designer, THEN God exists.

The very long, very convoluted, and very implausible reasoning that Aquinas provides in support of these four key premises related to four of his Five Ways has almost no chance of being sound.   Kreeft doesn’t even make an attempt to provide a rational justification of these four key premises; thus Kreeft’s versions of these four arguments are complete and utter FAILURES.
 
THE HINT OF AN ARGUMENT FOR (D)
The most important premise in Argument #4 is a premise that is not clearly stated by Kreeft:

D. IF an absolutely perfect being exists, THEN God exists.

Probably because Kreeft fails to clearly and explicitly state this premise, he fails to provide an argument to show that premise (D) is true.  However, he does hint at a line of reasoning that could be used in support of (D):
In other words, we all recognize that intelligent being is better than unintelligent being; that a being able to give and receive love is better than one that cannot; that our way of being is better, richer and fuller than that of a stone, a flower, an earthworm, an ant, or even a baby seal. (HCA, p.54-55)
This suggests a line of reasoning that could be used to argue that “an absolutely perfect being” would be an intelligent and loving being, because having such attributes makes something better than, more perfect than, something that lacks them.  This line of thought was used by Anselm to derive the Christian concept of God from the concept of a being “than which nothing greater can be conceived”, or what is called Perfect Being theology.  There is a nice brief introduction to Perfect Being theology by Thomas Morris in Chapter 2 his book Our Idea of God (hereafter: IOG).
In the end, the reasoning in Perfect Being theology might turn out to be just as convoluted and implausible as the usual Thomistic BS given in support of the four key premises of the other four Ways or proofs of the existence of God, but in my view, (D) has significantly greater initial plausibility, in comparison to the four other key premises.  So, I plan to take a closer look at Argument #4, in the next post in this series, because it appears to be the only argument among the Five Ways that has any chance of being a strong and solid argument for God.

bookmark_borderTolerating the Intolerant: The Central Paradox of Liberal Democracy

Insofar as human happiness is achievable, the clear verdict of history is that it is most readily achievable in societies based on the principles of liberal democracy. That is, societies with democratically elected representative governments that respect individual liberties, and which maintain satisfactorily high standards of social justice and economic equity. Examples of liberal democracies would be France, Germany, The Netherlands, the UK, the Scandinavian countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, and (decreasingly) the United States. Liberal democratic societies minimize the greatest obstacles to human flourishing, such as arbitrary, oppressive, and dictatorial government, gross inequalities, intolerance of dissent, racial, ethnic, religious, and other forms of discrimination, extreme poverty, and denial of opportunity. No society can guarantee happiness, of course, since achieving happiness requires personal responsibility and effort as well. However, a liberal democracy can create the conditions in which effort is rewarded rather than stymied. Liberal democracies can provide some of the necessary but not the sufficient conditions for happiness.
Secularism is a necessary corollary of liberal democracy. Secularism, as a tenet of liberal democracy, I understand as follows: No religion is to be mandatory or exclusive and no religion is permitted to exercise hegemonic dominance over other religions. The power, prestige, or authority of the state is not to be used to promote any species of belief or nonbelief over others. The former Soviet Union, by declaring atheism the official doctrine, was just as much opposed to liberal democratic values as is Iran’s imposition of Shiite Islam. Therefore, all faiths, as well as all varieties of nonbelief, must be allowed to flourish. Each doctrine is allowed free exercise of its beliefs, with the only requirement that such exercise does not abridge the fundamental rights of others.
It is this last point that ushers in the paradox. What if the tenets of one religion require that its adherents seek to abridge the rights of others? In that case, a liberal democracy, in virtue of its very tolerance, is led to accept into itself those who are not tolerant, and whose beliefs do require the hegemonic dominance of that religion or other violations of basic rights. In other words, a liberal democracy will willingly permit those who are ideologically opposed to liberal democracy. Those with an ideology opposed to the tenets of liberal democracy will then claim that the liberal democracy is oppressing them by preventing them from exercising their faith. The central paradox of liberal democracy is therefore this: The ideals of tolerance of a liberal democracy open such societies to those who are not tolerant and who, by conviction, are opposed to the ideals of liberal democracy.
Here is a case in point: Some years ago, a trip to the airport was even more stressful. As you hurried to your gate, an earnest figure in unusual garb would aggressively step in your way and attempt to prevent you from passing. Members of the Hare Krishna sect would swarm over airports, blocking the paths of travelers and assertively asking for donations in exchange for books of scripture. They could be quite pushy about it. Anyone that had to go to airports in that era loved the hilarious and deeply satisfying scene from the movie Airplane, where Robert Stack punched, karate-chopped, and judo-flipped airport cultists. Frankly, they were a pain in the neck.
Eventually, the courts stepped in and required anyone soliciting donations to stand behind counters rather than impede the flow of foot traffic. The Krishnas complained, no doubt truly, that the tenets of their religion required them to aggressively proselytize and seek donations. However, the courts decided that the right to freedom of movement and non-harassment in a public space was sufficiently strong to permit the restriction of the Krishnas’ religious freedom. Krishnas were not forbidden to proselytize, but not in ways that impeded or harassed people. Needless to say, the Krishnas quickly disappeared from airports.
Other cases point out the paradox more starkly. In 2004, the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered by a Dutch-Moroccan citizen—a Muslim who was offended by van Gogh’s film Submission about the status of women in Islamic societies. The Netherlands, as a very liberal, open, and tolerant society, had permitted the immigration of radical Muslims for whom free speech was not an ideal, and in whose view anyone perceived as critical of Islam deserved death.
The paradox of tolerating the intolerant is a genuine dilemma for liberal democracies. How do you address it? Do you expel Muslims and ban Muslim immigration, as rising nationalist, nativist, and racist parties in Europe demand? That, of course, would simply be to abjure one’s status as a liberal democracy. This is why there has been so much outrage over Donald Trump’s various proposed bans on immigration from Muslim countries. However, inevitably some Muslim immigrants (and others, of course) will have illiberal convictions, or become radicalized once in the country.
BTW, the idea that, in general, Muslim immigrants are a uniquely intolerant group is just not true:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/07/homophobic-muslim-populist-bogeyman-trump-le-pen
In fact, as the linked article notes, American Muslims are more tolerant of gays than American evangelical Christians. Perhaps, then, the best way to indicate the paradox of liberal democracy is to note that the U.S. not only tolerates, but elects to high office, fundamentalist Christians of theocratic leanings.
This paradox of liberal democracy also raises questions for the very concept of secularism. Secularism has presented itself as a neutral arbiter in the conflict of religious traditions. The position of a secular government is supposed to be one of strict neutrality between various religions, favoring none and permitting the free exercise of each. Religious groups have often attacked secularism, claiming that it is not neutral, and that, in fact it does establish a religion, the “religion of secular humanism.” It allegedly does this, for instance, by permitting the teaching of evolution in public schools while not permitting creationist textbooks. At a deeper level, how can secularism be neutral when confronted with religious practices that undermine neutrality and tend towards hegemony?
The more superficial of the above charges is easily rebutted. Teaching evolution instead of creationism in the public schools no more imposes a secular humanist “religion” than teaching round-earth rather than flat-earth geography. Schools have a responsibility to teach scientific fact as such, oblivious to the grinding of ideological axes or the grinding teeth of offended ideologues.
The deeper-level question must be answered straightforwardly: As a tenet of liberal democracy, secularism is not and cannot be neutral with respect to some religious practices. Rather, it must oppose, and in fact forbid, those practices that are in direct contradiction with the principles of liberal democracy. Thus, it is an outrage and should be forbidden when public school administrators allow fundamentalist groups onto campus and give them freedom to aggressively proselytize students. What part of “public” do those administrators not understand? Public spaces and facilities belong to all the people, and, as such, are not to be used to promote sectarian causes. These fundamentalist groups will no doubt object that, like the Krishnas, such proselytizing is an essential aspect of their faith. Tough.
So, secular liberal democracies are not and cannot be neutral with respect to all religious practices, but must actively oppose some, namely those at variance with the principles of liberal democracy. Religious groups might complain, but really their complaints have no substance. You do not oppress people by forbidding them to oppress, nor do you silence people by forbidding them to silence people. You do not curtail someone’s freedom by keeping him from curtailing someone’s freedom. You do not display bigotry against bigots by not allowing them to act out their bigotry, not even when the bigots invoke “religious freedom” as their excuse.

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part 14: Evaluation of Argument #2

ANALYSIS OF ARGUMENT #2
In Part 13, I clarified and analyzed the logical structure of the Argument from Efficient Causality, Argument #2 in Kreeft’s case for God.  Here is the clarified version of Argument #2:

1a. IF there is no thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, THEN all things need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist.

2a. IF all things need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist, THEN it is impossible that something exists right now.

THEREFORE:

3a. IF there is no thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, THEN it is impossible that something exists right now.

A. It is NOT the case that: it is impossible that something exists right now. 

THEREFORE:

5a. It is NOT the case that: there is no thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused.

THEREFORE:

6a. There is at least one thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, AND there is exactly one thing on which all things that need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist are dependent for their existence right now.

C. IF there is at least one thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, AND there is exactly one thing on which all things that need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist are dependent for their existence right now, THEN God exists.

THEREFORE:

7a. God exists.

 
EVALUATION OF ARGUMENT #2
We have seen this movie before.  The main problem with Argument #2 is the same as the main problem with Argument #1 the single most important premise in the argument is left UNSTATED and UNSUPPORTED.  Specifically, Kreeft fails to state the premise that links the sub-conclusion (6a) to the conclusion that God exists, (7a).  Kreeft does not bother to explicitly state the most important premise in this argument:

C. IF there is at least one thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, AND there is exactly one thing on which all things that need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist are dependent for their existence right now, THEN God exists.

I provided (C) in order to complete the logic of Kreeft’s argument.
When Aquinas presented his case for God, MOST of his arguments are in support of premise (C), or of similar premises that link the existence of some abstract metaphysical being to the existence of God, to God as conceived of in Christian theology.  About 80% of the arguments in Aquinas’s case for God are attempts to prove that an abstract metaphysical being (such as an “unmoved mover” or an “uncaused cause of the present existence of all other things”) must have various divine attributes (such as being eternal, simple, immaterial, perfect, good, intelligent, all-knowing, loving, everlasting , etc.).
Kreeft does not mention premise (C) and provides no supporting arguments for (C).   Since this is the single most important premise in Argument #2, and since it is a highly controversial premise which requires several arguments to justify it, and since Kreeft makes no effort to justify (C), Argument #2 is clearly FAILS, just like Argument #1.
The second most important premise in Argument #2 is (6a), and unlike (C), Kreeft provides an argument in support of (6a):

5a. It is NOT the case that: there is no thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused.

THEREFORE:

6a. There is at least one thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, AND there is exactly one thing on which all things that need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist are dependent for their existence right now.

But this argument is INVALID, at least it is not formally valid.  It has this logical structure:

It is NOT the case that: There is no thing that has attribute A.

THEREFORE:

There is at least one thing that has attribute A, AND there is exactly one thing that has attribute B.

The only conclusion that can be inferred from (5a) is the conclusion in the first clause of (6a):  “There is at least one thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused.”  The second clause of (6a) does NOT follow from (5a).  One cannot infer that “there is exactly one thing on which all things that need a present cause outside of themselves in  order to exist are dependent for their existence right now.”   For one thing, (5a) does not imply that there is EXACTLY ONE THING, at least not in any obvious way.  One must provide some significant bit of reasoning to infer that there is EXACTLY ONE THING of a certain sort, from a claim that only asserts that there is AT LEAST ONE thing of a certain sort.  The original statement of premise (6) by Kreeft used the word “something” ambiguously in order to make the inference from (5a) to (6a) seem legitimate:
So there must be something uncaused, something on which all things that need an efficient cause of being are dependent. (HCA, p.51)
But clarifying the meaning of premise (6) reveals the shift in quantification and the INVALIDITY of this inference.
There are a few other problems with the inference from (5a) to (6a).  First, the fact that something HAS a cause of its present existence does NOT imply that it NEEDS a cause of its present existence, at least this is NOT a formally valid inference:

X has a Y.

THEREFORE:

X needs a Y. 

If I HAVE a solid gold statue of Donald Trump, that does not mean that I NEED a solid gold statue of Donald Trump.  If I HAVE a three-week old slice of pizza that has mold growing on it, that does not mean that I NEED that furry slice of pizza.  If I HAVE a malignant tumor in my brain, that does not mean that I NEED a malignant tumor in my brain.  At the very least, Kreeft should justify the shift from HAVING a cause of present existence to NEEDING a cause of present existence.  Premise (5a) does not mention anything about NEEDING to have a cause.  Note: this objection applies directly to premise (1a).
Second, premise (5a) only talks about whether a thing has a cause of its “present existence”, it says nothing about whether that cause must exist simultaneously with the “present existence” that it causes.  This is another shift that Kreeft fails to justify.  This is NOT a formally valid inference:

Something Y caused X to have (at time T1) attribute A.

THEREFORE:

Something Y caused (at time T1) X to have attribute A.

My father caused me to have (at this time, now) blue eyes.  But my father’s causing of my blue eyes did NOT occur now.  It occurred several months before I was born, at my conception.  So, the causing of an attribute of X can occur before that attribute is manifested, and the attribute can continue to be possessed by X, long after the cause of that attribute ceases to exist.
It seems possible, theoretically, for the cause of thing X’s existence at time T2 to be caused by something that existed earlier, at time T1, but that no longer exists at time T2.  Causes can precede effects in time, it would seem.  So, Kreeft at least needs to argue against the possibility of a cause of the present existence of X  being something that no longer exists at the moment of time in question.
A third problem with the inference from (5a) to (6a) is that having a need for a cause of existence at one time, does NOT imply having the same need at another time, at least this is not a formally valid inference:

A thing X exists at time T1, and X needs a cause of its existence at time T1.

THEREFORE:

If that thing X also exists at time T2, then X needs a cause of its existence at time T2.

If I need to fly to San Francisco today, that does not mean that I need to fly to San Francisco tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, or next week.  If I need to have my wisdom teeth extracted this week and I have this extraction performed, that does not mean that I will need to have them extracted again next week, or the week after that, or next year.  People and animals and plants and things can have needs at one time that they don’t have at some other time.  So, if there is a thing that “needs a cause of its present existence” right now, that does not imply that it will need a cause of its present existence ten minutes from now, or an hour from now, or a week from now, even if it continues to exist.  What a thing needs can change over time.
There are many problems and doubts about the VALIDITY of the inference from (5a) to (6a), and thus Kreeft should have provided an extensive justification of this inference and responses to these apparent problems with this inference.  This is a dubious inference that Kreeft has FAILED to adequately justify and support, and so the second most important premise in Argument #2 is supported by what appears to be an INVALID inference.
Argument #2 clearly FAILS, because Kreeft fails to state or to support the single most important premise of the argument, namely premise (C), and because Kreeft supports the second most important premise of the argument with a a dubious inference that appears to be invalid, namely the inference from (5a) to (6a).
So, I conclude that the first two arguments of Kreeft’s case for God are CRAP.  Presumably, these are arguments that Kreeft believes to be among the strongest and best arguments for the existence of God.  Since the very first two arguments of the first ten arguments are both crap, and since we know that all of the last ten arguments in Kreeft’s case are crap, we can reasonably infer that the remaining eight arguments are probably crap too, and that Kreeft’s entire case is a SPOC (Steaming Pile of Crap).
 
THE THREE REMAINING ARGUMENTS FROM AQUINAS
I can see right now that the next three arguments in Kreeft’s case (the remaining arguments from Aquinas) are ALL going to be CRAP, because it is obvious that Kreeft is clueless about what is needed in order to make a strong and solid argument for the existence of God.
Kreeft is under the delusion that the concept of an “unmoved mover” is practically the same as the concept of “God”, and that the concept of a “first uncaused cause of the existence of all other things” is practically the same as the concept of “God”.  But Aquinas had no such delusions.  And Edward Feser has no such delusions, because his summary of the Argument from Change shows that the bulk of the argument by Aquinas occurs AFTER arriving at the sub-conclusion that there is an “unchanging changer”.
Because Kreeft is clueless about what is required to provide a strong and solid argument for the existence of God, and because he has failed to recognize the single most important premise in two of Aquinas’s arguments for God, it is almost certain that he will keep making the same blunder with the remaining arguments from Aquinas.
I’m going to take a brief look at Arguments #3, #4, and #5, just to verify that Kreeft continues to make the same error.  I’m almost certain that he does.  If he does repeat this same error for those next three arguments, there is little point in looking at the details of those arguments, because failing to state and failing to support the single most important premise of an argument, means that Kreeft has clearly FAILED to provide a strong and solid argument for the existence of God.
In all likelihood, I will quickly toss out Arguments #3, #4, and #5, and will then move on to examine Arguments #6 through #10.

bookmark_borderProblems With TASO – Part 2: My Favorite Objection

TASO
The third inductive argument in Swinburne’s case for God is TASO (the Teleological Argument from Spatial Order):
Teleological Argument from Spatial Order

(e3) There exists a complex physical universe which is governed by simple natural laws, and in which the structure of the natural laws and of the initial conditions are such that they make the evolution of human bodies in that universe probable.

THEREFORE:

(g) God exists.

TASO is presented and defended by Swinburne in Chapter 8 (“Teleological Arguments”) of his book The Existence of God (hereafter: EOG), 2nd edition.
 
ARGUMENT FOR THE CORRECTNESS OF TASO
Here is Swinburne’s reasoning in support of the correctness of TASO as the third inductive argument in his case:
Critical Argument for the Correctness of TASO

1. An argument X is a correct C-inductive argument IF AND ONLY IF: (a) the premises of X are known to be true by those who dispute about the conclusion of X,  AND (b) the premises of X make the conclusion of X more likely or more probable than it would otherwise be.

2. The premises of the argument TASO are known to be true by those who dispute about the conclusion of TASO.

3. The premises of the argument TASO make the conclusion of TASO more likely or more probable than it would otherwise be.

THEREFORE:

4. The argument TASO is a correct C-inductive argument.

 
EVALUATION OF THE CRITICAL ARGUMENT SO FAR
The critical argument supporting TASO is deductively VALID.  It has the following valid deductive form:

1. P  IF AND ONLY IF: A AND B.

2. A

3. B

THEREFORE:

4. P

In Part 1 I raised an objection against premise (2) arguing that (2) is FALSE, and I raised an objection against premise (3), arguing that Swinburne’s argument for (3) was based on a false premise, thus leaving premise (3) in doubt.  So, the critical argument  for the correctness of TASO is UNSOUND and based on a dubious premise.
However, there is another objection, my favorite objection, which should also be considered, and which will put the nail in the coffin of the critical argument for TASO and which, I believe, will also throw a monkey wrench into Swinburne’s entire case for God.  My favorite objection, is an objection that challenges premise (1) of the critical argument for TASO.
 
OBJECTION TO PREMISE (1)
Premise (1) of Swinburne’s critical argument for TASO presents necessary and sufficient conditions for concluding that an argument is a “correct C-inductive argument”:
1. An argument X is a correct C-inductive argument IF AND ONLY IF: (a) the premises of X are known to be true by those who dispute about the conclusion of X,  AND (b) the premises of X make the conclusion of X more likely or more probable than it would otherwise be.
In my objection to premise (2), I pointed out that it is difficult to KNOW that human bodies are the product of evolution, and that it is even more difficult (if not impossible) to KNOW that this universe was structured in such a way that made the evolution of human bodies in this universe probable.  In order to KNOW that the factual premise of TASO, namely (e3), is true, one must be aware of a great deal of scientific facts and information.
My primary objection to premise (1) is that in order to KNOW the premise of TASO to be true, one must know a good deal of information about a variety of subjects, and that information includes most or all of what is considered to be the problem of evil.  More precisely, in order to KNOW that human bodies are the product of evolution, one must be aware of a good deal of scientific and historical information that includes most or all of the various problems of evil, including information about pain, injury, disease, suffering, death, predators, fear, fight-or-flight response, poisonous plants and animals, sexual reproduction, respiration, digestion, asphyxiation, mutation, natural disasters, famines, starvation, floods, drowning, earthquakes, forest fires, violent storms, snow and ice, freezing to death, the struggle for survival, survival of the fittest, nature “red in tooth and claw”, etc., etc.
So, in order to KNOW that (e3) is true, one must be aware of a great deal of information, and that information includes facts that support some of the most powerful objections to belief in God: the many and pervasive problems of evil.  But then when one evaluates the probability of the hypothesis that God exists in relation to (e3), one cannot rationally and reasonably set aside and ignore the many and pervasive problems of evil.  So, in order to rationally evaluate the probability of the claim “God exists” in relation to (e3), one must take into consideration not just the meaning and implications of (e3), but also the large collection of facts and data that allow one to KNOW that (e3) is in fact true.
If one takes into account most or all of the various and pervasive problems of evil in evaluating the strength of TASO, then it is unclear and very doubtful that all of this additional information increases the probability that God exists.  Given most or all of the various and pervasive problems of evil, that information might very well outweigh whatever positive support the hypothesis of theism gets from the fact that the universe is structured in a way that makes the evolution of human bodies probable.  Thus, in excluding from consideration all of the information that is used to determine (e3) to be true, one excludes a great deal of relevant evidence, which was already used in evaluation of the truth of (e3).  This is illogical and unreasonable, and therefore, the necessary condition (b) in premise (1) must be rejected:
… (b) the premises of X make the conclusion of X more likely or more probable than it would otherwise be.
The problem is that in order to KNOW a claim to be true sometimes requires that one be aware of a great deal of information about various subjects, but this information that supports KNOWLEDGE of the truth of a claim is different from the meaning and implications of the claim in question.  Condition (b) limits us to considering ONLY the meaning and implications of the premise(s) of an argument in evaluating the strength of the inference in the argument.  There is no consideration of the knowledge and information required in order to KNOW the truth of the premises.  So, condition (b) excludes consideration of relevant information that needs to be considered to arrive at a reasonable and rational evaluation of the strength of an inductive argument’s conclusion.
In limiting the scope of information to be used in judging the inference of an argument strictly to the PREMISES of that argument, one may exclude a great deal of information that is relevant to determining the probability of the conclusion of the argument, information that is already possessed by the person who is evaluating the argument, and that has already been used  by that person in the evaluation of the truth (or falsehood) of the premises of that very argument.
It is irrational and illogical to allow the person who evaluates an argument to use a large collection of data to evaluate the truth of a premise, and then to insist that the person disregard all of that data (even if it is clearly relevant) in determining the strength of the inference of that argument.  It is clearly unreasonable to allow a large body of information to be used in one part of evaluation of an argument (evaluating the truth of a premise) and to disallow any of that information to be used in another part of evaluation of the same argument (evaluating the strength of the inference).
 
A MONKEY WRENCH IN THE GEARS OF SWINBURNE’S CASE
There are at least two different ways in which this objection to premise (1) of the critical argument for the correctness of TASO negatively impacts Swinburne’s entire case.
First, whenever Swinburne claims that one of his inductive arguments is a “correct C-inductive” argument, he is relying on the analysis of “correct C-inductive” arguments that is stated in premise (1).  Since my objection is that this analysis is FALSE or INCORRECT, that means that there is a FALSE or INCORRECT premise in every critical argument that Swinburne gives (or implies) about his favored inductive arguments for the existence of God.
Second, Swinburne’s general approach or strategy in building his case for God is based on slowly adding one piece of information at a time, and slowly increasing the probability of the existence of God, with each added bit of evidence.  But this strategy completely falls apart with TASO, the third argument in his case (Swinburne ends up using nine significant inductive arguments in his case), because in order to KNOW the premise of TASO to be true, one must know or be aware of a great deal of scientific and historical information, including information that provides powerful evidence AGAINST the existence of God (e.g. the various and pervasive problems of evil).  TASO opens the floodgates of information, and thus washes away the careful bit-by-bit addition of information that Swinburne intended as his basic epistemological strategy in building his case.
For example, Swinburne does not consider the problem of evil until after positively evaluating six inductive arguments for the existence of God.  But it is illogical for the problem of evil to be considered that late in the progression of adding six different pieces of evidence one at a time, because the problem of evil (or problems of evil) must be taken into account when evaluating TASO, the third argument in his case.  The information that constitutes the various problems of evil is information that one must be aware of and use in order to KNOW that the premise of TASO is true, so the problems of evil arise unavoidably when we try to evaluate the third argument in Swinburne’s case.

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part 13: Analysis of Argument #2

EVALUATION OF KREEFT’S CASE SO FAR
I began this series by considering the last ten arguments in Peter Kreeft’s case for God in Chapter 3 of Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA).  Those arguments appear to be ones that Kreeft viewed as weaker than his earlier arguments.  NONE of those last ten arguments turned out to be a solid argument, and I concluded that they provide no significant reason to believe that God exists.
I have shifted to an examination of the first ten arguments, which Kreeft appears to believe are the best and strongest arguments for the existence of God.  But Argument #1 turned out to be yet another FAILED attempt to provide a solid argument for the existence of God.  The two main premises of Argument #1 are both FALSE, so that argument is UNSOUND.
It is now time to consider Argument #2, another argument that Kreeft apparently believes to be one of the best and strongest arguments for God.  Given Kreeft’s pathetic track record so far,  it is doubtful that this will turn out to be a solid argument.
 
ARGUMENT #2 IN KREEFT’S WORDS
The Argument from Effecient Causality is the second argument in Kreeft’s case.  He presents the main claims of Argument #2 in a couple of paragraphs:
Now ask yourself.  Are all things caused to exist by other things right now?  Suppose they are.  That is, suppose there is no Uncaused Being, no God.  Then nothing could exist right now.  For remember, on the no-God hypothesis, all things need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist.  So right now, all things, including all those things which are causing other things to be, need a cause.  They can give being only so long as they are given being.  Everything that exists, therefore, on this hypothesis, stands in need of being caused to exist.
But caused by what?  Beyond everything that is, there can only be nothing.  But that is absurd: all of reality dependent–but dependent on nothing!  The hypothesis that all being is caused, that there is no Uncaused Being, is absurd.  So there must be something uncaused, something on which all things that need an efficient cause of being are dependent.  (HCA, p.51)
The key to understanding the logic of this passage is the following pair of sentences:
That is, suppose there is no Uncaused Being, no God.  Then nothing could exist right now. 
Taken together, these sentences express a conditional statement: 
IF there is no Uncaused Being, THEN nothing could exist right now.
This key claim is what I label as premise (3) below.
Now I’m going to organize the main claims from the two paragraphs quoted above (plus two other claims from the paragraph immediately after those two) into a basic logical structure:

1. …on the no-God hypothesis [i.e. the hypothesis that there is no Uncaused Being], all things need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist.

2. Are all things caused to exist by other things right now?  Suppose they are.  …Then nothing could exist right now.

THEREFORE:

3. …suppose there is no Uncaused Being… . Then nothing could exist right now.

4. …we exist. [from the paragraph following the above two quoted paragraphs]

THEREFORE:

5. The hypothesis that all being is caused, that there is no Uncaused Being, is absurd.

THEREFORE: 

6. …there must be something uncaused, something on which all things that need an efficient cause of being are dependent.

THEREFORE:

7.  …there must exist a God…

 
FURTHER CLARIFICATION OF ARGUMENT #2
The first premise needs clarification:

1. …on the no-God hypothesis [i.e. the hypothesis that there is no Uncaused Being], all things need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist.

Kreeft deceptively, or sloppily and misleadingly, conjoins the word “God” with the phrase “Uncaused Being”, thus falsely implying that there is little or no difference between these two concepts.  But there is a HUGE difference between them, so I am going to revise his wording so that the initial premises are focused, as they ought to be, on the concept of an “Uncaused Being”.  The use of capitalization here is also somewhat misleading, because it appears to be the NAME of a SINGLE being, which begs an important question or two:

1a. IF there is no thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, THEN all things need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist.

Note that I add a lower-case letter after the number, to indicate that I have modified or revised the wording of the premise.
Now let’s look at the second premise of Argument #2:

2. Are all things caused to exist by other things right now?  Suppose they are.  …Then nothing could exist right now.

The phrase “nothing could exist right now” is ambiguous between “it is possible that nothing exists right now” and “it is impossible that something exists right now”.  It is the latter meaning that was intended by Kreeft.  Also, this second premise should be rephrased and put into the form of a conditional statement that lines up logically with premise (1a):

2a. IF all things need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist, THEN it is impossible that something exists right now.

Here is Kreeft’s wording of premise (3):

3. …suppose there is no Uncaused Being… . Then nothing could exist right now.

This is an inference from the conditional statements in premises (1a) and (2a), so this also should be rephrased as a conditional statement, using the wording from (1a) and (2a), so that it is clear that (3a) follows logically from them:

3a. IF there is no thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, THEN it is impossible that something exists right now.

This shows that the logic of the first three premises is a deductively VALID conditional syllogism:

IF X, THEN Y.

IF Y, THEN Z.

THEREFORE:

IF X, THEN Z.

 
Premise (3a) is the key to this argument.  It suggests that the core of the reasoning is a decuctively VALID modus tollens inference:

IF X, THEN Z.

NOT Z.

THEREFORE:

NOT X.

So, one expects Kreeft to assert the negation of the consequent of premise (3a):

A. It is NOT the case that: it is impossible that something exists right now. 

Kreeft does not assert (A) explicitly, but in the paragraph following the two above quoted paragraphs, Kreeft does assert a closely related claim:

4. …we exist.

The point of (4) is to show the following to be the case:

B. Something exists right now.

And (B) obviously implies (A), the negation of the consequent of (3a).  So, although Kreeft does not explicitly assert (A), it does appear that he implied (A) by asserting (4).  Premise (4) implies (B) and (B) implies (A).
Premise (5) is stated this way by Kreeft:

5. The hypothesis that all being is caused, that there is no Uncaused Being, is absurd.

This is just a long-winded way of denying the claim that “there is no Uncaused Being”, so let’s use the clarified wording for this hypthothesis (as in the antecedent of premise (3a) ), and assert it’s denial or negation:

5a. It is NOT the case that: there is no thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused.

Premise (5a) is given to support premise (6):

6. So there must be something uncaused, something on which all things that need an efficient cause of being are dependent.

The word “something” is notoriously ambiguous, and, of course, Kreeft stumbles over this ambiguity, like just about every Thomist has for the past seven centuries (since Aquinas). [IMHO no Thomist should be allowed to ever use the word “something” in a philosophical argument, at least not for the next seven centuries.] The word “something” can mean either “at least one thing” (like it does in the initial phrase “there must be something uncaused”, or it can mean “exactly one thing” (like it does in the next phrase “something on which all things…are dependent.”).

6a. There is at least one thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, AND there is exactly one thing on which all things that need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist are dependent for their existence right now.

Finally,  Kreeft draws his ultimate conclusion:

7.  …there must exist a God…

We can simplify this conclusion a little bit:

7a.  God exists.

Kreeft has once again, as with Argument #1, left the single most important premise in Argument #2 unstated, namely the premise that links the sub-conclusion (6a) to the ultimate conclusion (7a):

C. IF there is at least one thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, AND there is exactly one thing on which all things that need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist are dependent for their existence right now, THEN God exists.

 
ARGUMENT DIAGRAM AND ANALYSIS OF ARGUMENT #2
The following argument diagram shows my analysis of the logical structure of Argument #2 (click on the image below for a clearer view of the diagram):

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Argument #2 – Clarified Version:

1a. IF there is no thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, THEN all things need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist.

2a. IF all things need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist, THEN it is impossible that something exists right now.

THEREFORE:

3a. IF there is no thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, THEN it is impossible that something exists right now.

A. It is NOT the case that: it is impossible that something exists right now. 

THEREFORE:

5a. It is NOT the case that: there is no thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused.

THEREFORE:

6a. There is at least one thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, AND there is exactly one thing on which all things that need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist are dependent for their existence right now.

C. IF there is at least one thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, AND there is exactly one thing on which all things that need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist are dependent for their existence right now, THEN God exists.

THEREFORE:

7a. God exists.

 
Sub-Argument for (A):

4. We exist.

THEREFORE:

B. Something exists right now.

THEREFORE:

A. It is NOT the case that: it is impossible that something exists right now.