bookmark_borderA moral argument against the resurrection

I don’t think that there is anything particularly original about the argument I will provide here. I had a brief conversation about this argument with some friends yesterday, including Greg Cavin. Greg was inclined to think that the argument could come across as too subjective, that is, based on subjective value judgments. I am not sure that he is right about that, but I thought I would present it here and solicit the thoughts of the Secular Outpost community:

(1) God is completely rational.

Thus,

(2) Any action that God performs is undertaken on the basis of some good reason.

(3) There is no good reason for God to resurrect Jesus from the dead.

Therefore,

(4) God did not resurrect Jesus from the dead.

Premise (1) follows from the fact that God is perfect and (2) is a consequence of (1). Therefore, the soundness of the argument depends on the truth of (3). We can defend (3) by considering possible reasons that God might have for resurrecting Jesus and rejecting them. It is probably impossible to consider all possible factors that might count in favor of God’s resurrecting Jesus. However, that need not undermine the argument. Suppose we are not certain that there is no good reason for God to resurrect Jesus from the dead. We can issue a challenge to any person who believes that God did resurrect Jesus. That challenge would be to provide the good reason for God to resurrect Jesus. In the absence of any such account of God’s reason, we ought to be skeptical that there is such a reason.
The argument has significant virtues. For one thing, it is not committed to the claim that Jesus was not resurrected; only that God did not resurrect him. This fact allows us to set aside issues concerning whether the historical attestations of the resurrection are sufficient to provide a prima facie case that Jesus was resurrected. In the context of the current argument, it is irrelevant whether the historical accounts of a resurrected Jesus are evidence that he was resurrected. He may indeed have been resurrected (though we can remain skeptical) and there may indeed have been reliable witnesses of it, but, says our argument, if he was, God had nothing to do with it.
Another virtue that the argument has, probably its most important virtue, is that it allows us to focus on moral issues surrounding the resurrection. Many Christians believe that the death of Jesus was an act of love in which God sent his only son to die for us and for our sins. The resurrection, on this view, involves a sign that Jesus was truly the son of God and that, therefore, the salvation of humanity was accomplished through Jesus’s death. The resurrection also, on this view, indicates a promise that those who believe in Jesus and God’s saving grace can be restored to a new life. This judgement assumes that God was accomplishing something worthwhile by having Jesus die and resurrect. But there is nothing worthwhile that Jesus’ death and resurrection could have accomplished; at least nothing that we know of. The salvation of humanity could not have been accomplished via Jesus’ death and resurrection, nor could the forgiveness of any person’s sins. Forgiveness and salvation are not achieved by making an innocent person suffer and die for other people’s misdeeds.
What I like about this argument is that it gets us to focus on the insignificance of Jesus’s alleged resurrection. If Jesus did resurrect, it was a miracle; but this miracle would not be connected to God, nor would it have any obvious religious significance.

bookmark_borderGod, Guns, and School Shootings

Ten dead and ten injured in a high school shooting, but Texas Governor Greg Abbott believes “the problem is not guns, it’s hearts without God.”

Texas Governor: ‘The Problem is Not Guns, It’s Hearts Without God’


The problem with Governor Abbott’s theory is that it doesn’t fit the facts.
For example, California has a larger population (39.5 million) than Texas does (28.3 million), so one would expect that there would be more school shootings with fatalities and more school shootings with injuries but no fatalities in California than in Texas. But the reverse is actually the case:
School Shootings with Fatalities (10/1/15 to 5/18/18)
⦁ Texas – 6
⦁ California – 5
School Shootings with Injuries and no Fatalities (10/1/15 to 5/18/18)
⦁ Texas – 10
⦁ California – 9
[Data is from LA Times report on school shootings and population data is from the Census Bureau ]
So, the population of Texas is only 72% of the population of California, but Texas had 16 serious school shootings (with fatalities or with injuries but no fatalities) while California had 14 such school shootings in the same time frame, making the number of such school shootings in Texas 114% of the number of such school shootings in California.
Clearly, the facts show that Texas has a greater problem with school shootings than California does.  If “hearts without God” was the root cause of this problem, then we would expect to find that the population of California was more religious than the population of Texas. But the reverse is the case. The population of California is less religious than the population of Texas:
Percentage of the Population that Are Atheists or Agnostics
⦁ California – 9%
⦁ Texas – 5%
Percentage of the Population that are “Nones” (unaffiliated with any religion)
⦁ California – 27%
⦁ Texas – 18%
Percentage of the Population that are Christians
⦁ California – 63%
⦁ Texas – 77%
[Data is from the Pew Research Center ]
A larger portion of the population in California are atheists or agnostics than the portion of the population in Texas. A larger portion of the population in California are unaffiliated with any religion than the portion of the population in Texas.  A smaller portion of the population in California are Christians than the portion of the population in Texas.
Clearly, if “hearts without God” is the root cause of serious school shootings, then we would expect California to have a much greater problem with serious school shootings than Texas, but in fact Texas has a greater problem than California with serious school shootings!
The factual evidence against Governor Abbott’s theory is not limited to a comparison between the two most populous states in the USA. The bigger problem with his theory is that the USA is a very religious country compared with European countries, and yet the USA has a much bigger problem with school shootings than we find in European countries:
Number of School Shootings Since 2009
⦁ USA – 288
⦁ France – 2
⦁ Germany – 1
⦁ Spain – 0
⦁ Italy – 0
⦁ UK – 0
[Data from a CNN report on school shootings]
The USA has a larger population than these European countries, but the size of population does not account for the huge difference in the number of school shootings. Let’s put the number of school shootings in terms of how many occur per ten million people:
Number of School Shootings/Ten million People Since 2009
⦁ USA – 288/32.8 = 8.78
⦁ France – 2/6.7 = 0.30
⦁ Germany – 1/8.0 = 0.01
⦁ Spain – 0/4.9 = 0.00
⦁ Italy – 0/6.2 = 0.00
⦁ UK – 0/6.5 = 0.00
[Data is from the US Census Burea and from a CNN report on school shootings]
Clearly the USA has a much bigger problem with school shootings than do European countries. But the USA is a more religious country than the above European countries, with the exception of Italy:
Percentage of the Population that is Not Religious (2017)
⦁ Italy – 26%
⦁ USA – 39%
⦁ France – 50%
⦁ Spain – 57%
⦁ Germany – 60%
⦁ UK – 69%
[Data is from WIN-Gallup International Association ]
Note that other international data indicates that Italy and the USA are about the same in terms of portion of the population that claims to have “no religion”:
Percentage of Population that has “no religion” (2006)
⦁ USA – 20%
⦁ Italy – 18%
[Data is from the Dentsu Communication Institute  ]
Clearly, the population of the USA has a significantly higher percentage of religious people than the populations of France, Germany, Spain, and the UK, but the problem of school shootings is a much bigger problem in the USA than in those European countries. The population of Italy is slightly more religious than the population of the USA, but the number of school shootings per ten million is dramatically lower in Italy (i.e. zero school shootings since 2009), so the slight difference in religiosity does not account for that huge difference in the size of the school shooting problem in those countries.
California is significantly less religious than Texas, but Texas has a bigger problem with serious school shootings than California, and a number of European countries are less religious than the USA, but the USA has a far bigger problem with school shootings than do European countries.
It is clear that the facts do NOT support Governor Abbott’s theory. If any thing, the facts indicate the opposite of his theory. Religiosity and belief in God appear to be positively correlated with the occurrence of school shooting incidents.
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UPDATE on 5/28/18
============================
The population of Canada is 35.8 million vs. 28.3 million for Texas. The size of the population of Texas is 79% of the size of the population of Canada.  [Canada population is from the Census Bureau ]
Between 10/1/15 and 5/18/18, as stated in my post above, there were 16 school shooting incidents in Texas that involved fatalities or injuries.
Since 2009, there have been only 2 school shooting incidents in Canada where at least one person (other than the shooter) was shot. Canada has a significantly larger population than Texas, and the period of time for the school shootings in Canada is more than 3.5 times longer than the period of time in which the 16 shootings occurred in Texas (32 month period for Texas data, 113 month period for Canada data). [Canada school shooting data is from a CNN report  ]
So, the number of serious school shootings in Texas during the longer period of time (starting back in 2009 instead of 2015) could easily be double or even triple the 16 school shootings that occurred in the past 32 months in Texas. It is very likely that the number of serious school shooting incidents in Texas is at least TEN TIMES more than the number of serious school shooting incidents in Canada, even though Canada has a significantly LARGER population than Texas.
So, if “hearts without God” is the root cause of school shootings, then we would expect Canada to be MUCH MORE religious than Texas, but in fact, the opposite is the case.
I don’t have data that directly compares Canada and Texas, but the data I do have clearly indicates that Canada is significantly less religious than Texas.
57% of the population in Canada is not religious. [Data is from WIN-Gallup International Association ]
I don’t have the same statistic for Texas, but the data strongly indicates that only around 20% of the population of Texas is not religious. Here are two statistics that support this estimate:
(1) 18% of the population of Texas are not affiliated with any religion, and
(2) 86% of the people of Texas say either that religion is “very important” or that it is “somewhat important” to them.
[Data is from the Pew Research Center ]
Canada is MUCH LESS religious than Texas, yet Texas has FAR MORE serious school shootings than Canada, even though Canada has a significantly larger population than Texas.
This is yet another significant comparison that provides strong evidence against Abbott’s theory about the cause of school shootings.
============================
UPDATE on 5/29/18
============================
According to Governor Abbott’s view, New York must be much more religious than Texas.
NY has a population of 19.8 million, which is 70 percent of the population of Texas. So if school shootings in NY were as common as in Texas, we would expect to have had about 11 serious school shootings in NY over the same 32 month period in which there were 16 serious school shootings in Texas. [Data on population of NY and Texas is from the Census Bureau ]
But the actual number of such school shootings in New York was ZERO! On Abbott’s theory, NY should be much more religious than Texas, but it is actually less religious than Texas. [Data on number of serious school shootings is from an LA Times report ]
Like California, 27 percent of the population of NY are NOT affiliated with any religion, while only 18 percent of Texans have no religious affiliation.  Also, 10% of the population in NY are atheists or agnostics, while only 5% of Texans are atheists or agnostics.  So, Texas is MORE RELIGIOUS than New York, but the problem of serious school shootings is MUCH GREATER in Texas than in New York. [Data on religion in New York is from the Pew Research Center and data on religion in Texas is also from the Pew Research Center ]
Governor Abbott’s theory about the cause of school shootings is clearly contrary to the facts.
============================
UPDATE on 5/30/18
============================
One last comparison, just to put a final nail in the coffin of Governor Abbott’s theory that the root cause of school shootings is “hearts without God”.
ALABAMA VS. VERMONT
It would be interesting to compare the frequency of serious school shooting incidents in the most religious state with the frequency of serious school shooting incidents in the least religious state to see whether that would confirm or disconfirm Governor Abbott’s theory about the root cause of school shooting incidents.  If his view was correct, we would expect to see a much bigger problem with school shooting incidents in the least religious state as compared with the most religious state.
Alabama is the most religious state in the USA:
⦁ It has the lowest percentage of religious “nones”: 12%
⦁ It has the lowest percentage of people who are atheists or agnostics: 2%
⦁ It has the highest percentage of people who are Christians: 86%
Vermont is the least religious state in the USA:
⦁ It has the highest percentage of religious “nones”: 37%
⦁ It has the highest percentage of people who are atheists or agnostics: 14%
⦁ It has the lowest percentage of people who are Christians: 54%
[Data on religion in Alabama and Vermont is from the Pew Research Center ]
[Religious “nones” are people who are not affiliated with any religion.]
However, a comparison of school shooting incidents between Alabama and Vermont would not be very helpful, because Vermont has a very small population of only about 624,000. (In my state, the state of Washington, the city of Seattle has a larger population than the entire state of Vermont!)  Alabama has a much larger population of about 4.8 million.  The population of Alabama is 7.7 times the size of the population of Vermont. [Data on population of states is from the Census Bureau ]
WASHINGTON IS ONE OF THE LEAST RELIGIOUS STATES IN THE USA
It would be more appropriate to compare Alabama with one of the least religious states that has a population in the millions of people. My state, the state of Washington, is just such a state.
Washington has a high percentage of religious “nones”, a relatively high percentage of people who are atheists or agnostics, and a relatively low percentage of Christians, so it is similar to Vermont in terms of religiosity, and it is among the least religious states in the USA:
Percentage of Population who are Religious “nones”
⦁ Washington: 32% religious “nones”
⦁ Vermont: 37% religious “nones”
Percentage of Population who are Atheists or Agnostics
⦁ Washington: 10% are atheists or agnostics
⦁ Vermont: 14% are atheists or agnostics
Percentage of Population who are Christians
⦁ Washington: 61% Christians
⦁ Vermont: 54% Christians
[Data on religion in Washington and Vermont is from the Pew Research Center ]
ALABAMA VS. WASHINGTON
Comparison of the religiosity of Alabama and Washington:
Percentage of Population who are Religious “nones”
⦁ Alabama: 12% religious “nones”
⦁ Washington: 32% religious “nones”
Percentage of Population who are Atheists or Agnostics
⦁ Alabama: 2% are atheists or agnostics
⦁ Washington: 10% are atheists or agnostics
Percentage of Population who are Christians
⦁ Alabama: 86% Christians
⦁ Washington: 61% Christians
[Data on religion in Washington and Alabama is from the Pew Research Center ]
Clearly, Alabama is a much more religious state than Washington, so according to Abbott’s theory, we should expect that serious school shootings are a much bigger problem in Washington than in Alabama.  But the OPPOSITE is actually the case.  Alabama has a much bigger problem with serious school shooting incidents than Washington.
Size of Population 
⦁ Washington population: 7.4 million
⦁ Alabama population: 4.8 million
[Data on population of these states is from the Census Bureau ]
The population of Washington is 1.54 times the size of the population of Alabama.  There have been 7 serious school shooting incidents in Alabama over the past 32 months, so if school shootings were as common in Washington as in Alabama, we would expect to have had about 11 serious school shootings in Washington over the past 32 months:
7 serious school shooting incidents  x  1.54  =  10.78 or about 11 serious school shooting incidents
But in fact there have been less than half of that number of serious school shootings in Washington:
⦁ Alabama had 7 serious school shooting incidents in the past 32 months
⦁ Washington had 5 serious school shooting incidents in the past 32 months
[Data on school shooting incidents is from an LA Times report on school shooting incidents. ]
So, serious school shootings are MUCH LESS of a problem in Washington than in Alabama.
Because Alabama is a MUCH MORE religious state than Washington, Abbott’s theory about the root cause of school shootings leads us to expect that serious school shooting incidents would be much more common in Washington than in Alabama.  But the OPPOSITE is the case.  Alabama is a much more religious state (the most religious state in the USA) but it has a much bigger problem with serious school shootings than Washington, which is one of the least religious states in the USA.
When we compare the most religious state in the USA with one of the least religious states, we find that the facts are EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what Governor Abbott’s theory predicts.

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part 25: Clarification of Argument #7

WHERE WE ARE AT
There are only two more arguments in Kreeft’s case that we need to evaluate:  Argument #7 (the Argument from Contingency) and Argument #6 (the Kalam Cosmological Argument).  In Part 24, I did an initial analysis of Argument #7, and I pointed out some significant problems with that argument, based only on the conclusion of the argument.
At best, the argument shows the existence of a bodiless being (i.e. a bodiless thing, not necessarily a person) that is the cause of the current existence of the universe:

  • it does NOT show the existence of an omnipotent person
  • it does NOT show the existence of an omniscient person
  • it does NOT show the existence of a perfectly morally good person
  • it does NOT show the existence of an eternal person
  • it does NOT show the existence of a person who is the creator of the universe
  • it does NOT show that there is JUST ONE being that is the cause of the current existence of the universe

Furthermore, the conclusion of Argument #7 asserts that the cause of the current existence of the universe is OUTSIDE OF TIME, which means that this being is absolutely UNCHANGING, which means it cannot be the creator of the universe,  which means it cannot be God.  Thus, even if Argument #7 was a sound argument, it would prove the existence of a being that was NOT God.
 
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT #7
In this post,  I will work on further clarification of Argument #7:

1a. If something exists at time t1, then there must exist at time t1 what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

2a. The universe–the collection of beings in space and time–exists at time t1.

THEREFORE:

3a. There must exist at time t1 what it takes for the universe to exist at time t1.

4a. What it takes for the universe to exist at time t1 cannot exist within the universe or be bounded by space and time.

THEREFORE:

5a. What it takes for the universe to exist at time t1 must exist at time t1 and must transcend both space and time.

NOTE: the phrase “at time t1” doesn’t have a specific meaning; it is a placeholder.  It is intended to be a clarification of the word “now”.  But we can fill in this placeholder expression with something more definite, like “at 9:40 pm Pacific Time on May 21st, 2018”.  Once we specify a particular point in time, the premises become meaningful factual claims that can be evaluated as true or false.
The ultimate conclusion of the argument is based on (5a):

6. There is EXACTLY ONE being that is the cause of the current existence of the universe, and this being exists right now and is OUTSIDE of both space and time, and this being is NOT finite or material.

 
CLARIFICATION OF PREMISE (1a)
Here is the first premise of the Argument from Contingency:

1a. If something exists at time t1, then there must exist at time t1 what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

Although adding the reference to a specific moment in time clarifies the meaning of this premise, it is still ambiguous.  Here are three different possible interpretations of it:

1b. IF something exists at time t1, THEN: there must exist something else at time t1 that is what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

1c. IF something exists at time t1, THEN: if that thing depends on something else for its existence at time t1, then there must exist something else at time t1 that  is what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

1d. IF something exists at time t1, THEN: if that thing depends on something else existing at time t1 for its existence at time t1, then there must exist something else at time t1 that is what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

Premise (1b) generates an infinite regress of current causes of existence.  One thing exists at t1, so a second thing must exist at t, so a third thing must exist at  t1, and so on.  According to (1b) if God exists at time  t1, “then there must exist something else at time t1 that is what it takes” for God to exist at time t1.  But God is supposed to be the exception to the rule; the one thing that does NOT depend on something else for its existence.  God is supposed to be what stops the regress of causes of existence.  So, it appears that interpretation (1b) will not work, because it implies the existence of the very infinite regress that this argument seeks to deny.
Premise (1c) on the other hand, only has implications when a “thing depends on something else for its existence at time t1,” so this leaves open the possibility that there could be things that DO NOT depend on something else for their current existence.  The same is true of premise (1d); it also leaves open the possibility that there could be things that DO NOT depend on something else for their current existence.
The main point of (1c) appears to be that in order for one thing X to cause the current existence of some other thing Y, the thing X must exist at the very same moment in time as the moment of Y’s existence that it is causing.  This assumption seems contrary to our intuitive belief that things that currently exist will tend to stay in existence.
If something vanishes into thin air, we are surprised and perplexed, because we expect things to continue to exist.  It is when something ceases to exist that we seek a cause or explanation.  But if a table was here in the dining room a few seconds ago, we are not surprised if we see that the table is still here in the dining room now.  Tables, chairs, people, rocks, and trees all tend to stay in existence.  Why is there a table here in this room right now?  Because there was a table right here in this room just a second ago.  Therefore, a natural explanation for the current existence of this table here and now, is that this table existed here just a moment ago.  The CAUSE of the current existence of this table appears to be the existence of this table a moment ago.
The chair here in the room did not cause the current existence of the table.  The air in the room did not cause the current existence of the table.  If the table had been built by some person in the room, we might be tempted to say that this person is a cause of the current existence of the table, but it seems more accurate to say that the person who built the table caused the table to come into existence, but once the table came to exist, it no longer depended upon the existence of the person who built it.  The table can continue to exist even if the person who made the table ceases to exist.  So, although this specific table would not exist here and now if it had not been built by the person who made it, its current existence does NOT depend on the current existence of its maker, so the person who made the table is NOT the CAUSE of the current existence of the table.
But if the current existence of a table is caused by the previous existence of the same table, then that table does not depend on “something else” for its current existence.  But when the table was first constructed, its first moment as a table was not caused by the previous existence of the same table, because it did not previously exist.  So, it seems that we should attribute the cause of the first moment of the existence of the table to the person who made the table.  The cause of the first moment of existence of the table is the person who made the table, and the cause of the following moments of existence of the table were caused by the previous existence of the same table:
Person at time t1 –> Table at time t2 –> Table at time t3 –> Table at time t4 –> …
Sometimes things dissolve.  Sometimes things burn up.  Sometimes things fall to pieces.  Sometimes things explode.  Sometimes things melt.  This table has not dissolved; it has not burned up; it has not fallen to pieces; it has not exploded, and it hasn’t melted.  Why not?
Not everything continues to exist in the stable way that most tables continue to exist, so one might seek an explanation for why tables tend to continue to exist while other things quickly dissolve, burn up, fall to pieces, explode, or melt.  A very basic explanation for this is that there are various laws of physics that allow tables to continue to exist in a stable way under “ordinary” circumstances that we find here on Earth.
In short, the laws of physics are such that tables tend to stay in existence, at least for several years or several decades.  For this reason, we might say that the current existence of this table here and now depends upon the laws of physics.  If the laws of physics were different, then tables might tend to quickly dissolve, burn up, fall to pieces, explode, or melt under the typical physical circumstances that we find on the Earth.
In this sense, the current existence of this table depends upon the current character and operation of various laws of physics, and upon various circumstances that are typical on Earth (temperature, pressure, chemical composition of the atmosphere, gravitational forces, etc.), so we might reasonably conclude that the current existence of this table depends upon “something else” other than just the table itself (and other than just the existence of the table in a previous moment of time).  Tables tend to continue to exist for several years because of the operation of particular laws of physics and because of the character of the physical environment here on the Earth.
For a table to continue to exist requires that the laws of physics and the physical environment of the table remain the same, or undergo only minor changes.  Major changes in the laws of physics or in the character of the physical environment around the table might well cause the table to be destroyed, to cease to exist.  To the extent that the current existence of the table depends on the continued stability of the laws of physics and the continued stability of its physical environment, the current existence of the table does depend on the current character and operation of those laws of physics and the current character of various aspects of its physical environment.
This point about tables appears to be generalizable: the continued existence of ANY physical object depends upon the laws of physics and on the physical environment around that physical object, so the current existence of EACH and EVERY physical object depends on the current character of the laws of physics and on the current character of various aspects of its physical environment.  Thus, premise (1c) appears to apply to all physical objects, and it appears to be true, at least about physical objects.
Premise (1d) also appears to be true, but it appears to be a tautology:  IF something requires X to be the case in order to exist, then, of course, that thing would not exist unless X is the case.  But this gives us no significant information.  In order to make use of (1d), Kreeft would need to show that everything in the universe (a) depends on something else for its current existence, and (b) the something else must exist at the very same instant that the thing in question is having its existence caused.  So, premise (1d) although true, does not appear to be useful for the purposes of this argument.  Thus, premise (1c) appears to be the best interpretation of (1a), because it appears to be both true and also useful for the purposes of this argument.
 
REFORMULATED INITIAL INFERENCE
Premise (1c) appears to be the best interpretation of premise (1a), so we should reformulate the initial inference of Argument #7 accordingly:

1c. IF something exists at time t1, THEN: if that thing depends on something else for its existence at time t1, then there must exist something else at time t1 that  is what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

2a. The universe–the collection of beings in space and time–exists at time t1.

THEREFORE:

3c. There must exist something else at time t1 that is what it takes for the universe to exist at time t1.

This argument is logically INVALID, because (1c) has an additional condition that has not been asserted to be satisfied: “if that thing depends on something else for its existence at time t1” .
So, to make the argument valid, we need to add another premise that asserts this added condition to be satisfied:

1c. IF something exists at time t1, THEN: if that thing depends on something else for its existence at time t1, then there must exist something else at time t1 that  is what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

2a. The universe–the collection of beings in space and time–exists at time t1.

A. The universe–the collection of beings in space and time–depends on something else for its existence at time t1.

THEREFORE:

3c. There must exist something else at time t1 that is what it takes for the universe to exist at time t1.

We already have a reason for thinking that premise (A) is true: the current existence of ALL physical objects depends on the current character and operation of the laws of physics and on various aspects of their current physical environment/circumstances.
 
LOGICAL STRUCTURE OF ARGUMENT #7
Click on the image below for a clearer view of the argument diagram:

 

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part 24: The Argument from Contingency

WHERE WE ARE AT
There are only two more arguments for the existence of God left to consider out of the twenty arguments in Peter Kreeft’s case for God from Chapter 3 of Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA).  In this post I will analyze Argument #7: the Argument from Contingency.
 
THE CONCLUSION OF ARGUMENT #7
None of Kreeft’s twenty arguments is actually an argument for the existence of God, and Argument #7 is no exception to this generalization.  Here is the explicitly stated conclusion of this argument:

5. Therefore, what it takes for the universe to exist [right now] must transcend both space and time.  (HCA, p.61)

A further conclusion is mentioned in Kreeft’s explanation of this argument:
…we know that this cause [of the current existence of the universe] cannot be finite or material–that it must transcend such limitations. (HCA, p.62)
Because Kreeft uses the expression “this cause”, he is clearly assuming that there is EXACTLY ONE cause of the current existence of the universe.  When Kreeft asserts that this cause “must transcend both space and time” he is contrasting this being with “the collection of beings in space and time” (HCA, p.61), so transcending space and time implies being OUTSIDE of both space and time.
We can now clarify the intended conclusion of this argument to be as follows:

There is EXACTLY ONE being that is the cause of the current existence of the universe, and this being exists right now and is OUTSIDE of both space and time, and this being is NOT finite or material.

Because part of this conclusion is that the cause of the current existence of the universe is NOT material, I take it that Kreeft is (in part) arguing for the existence of a bodiless person, so Argument #7 could be part of a cumulative case for God, since one of the basic divine attributes is being a bodiless person.
Proving that there is a bodiless being that is the cause of the current existence of the universe does NOT prove that God exists.  This argument fails to show that (a) this being is omnipotent, (b) this being is omniscient, (c) this being is perfectly morally good, or that (d) this being is the creator of the universe.  This argument also fails to show that there is JUST ONE being that is the cause of the current existence of the universe; there could be many beings that are involved in causing the current existence of the universe.
In order for Argument #7 to play a significant role in a cumulative case for God, the cause of the current existence of the universe must be shown to be the same being as another being with other divine attributes.  However, most of Kreeft’s arguments do not concern any of the basic divine attributes, so there are only a few other arguments that could be combined with Argument #7 Setting aside Argument #13, which Kreeft himself admits is a bad argument, there is only one argument that supports more than one basic divine attribute: Argument #6.  So, to even begin to build a cumulative case for God, Kreeft needs to show that the being discussed in Argument #7 is the same being as is discussed in Argument #6.
Kreeft thinks that in Argument #6 he has proved the existence of a person who was the creator of the universe, which is one of the basic divine attributes.  So, if Kreeft’s cumulative argument is going to be even partially successful, he needs to show that the creator of the universe is the same being as the being that is the cause of the current existence of the universe.  Kreeft makes no effort to show that these two beings are the same being, so his cumulative case for God is clearly a failure.  His cumulative case for God doesn’t even get started.
Kreeft implies that the cause of the current existence of the universe exists OUTSIDE OF TIME and outside of space.  If the cause of the current existence of the universe is something that exists OUTSIDE OF TIME, then the cause of the current existence of the universe is absolutely and completely UNCHANGING, and if the cause of the current existence of the universe is absolutely and completely UNCHANGING, then the cause of the current existence of the universe is NOT a person.
Argument #6 is an argument for the existence of a person who is the creator of the universe.  Thus, if the conclusion of Argument #7 was TRUE, and if the cause of the current existence of the universe were the same being as the creator of the universe, the it follows that the creator of the universe is a being that exists OUTSIDE OF TIME.  But a being that exists outside of time cannot change in any way, and so such a completely changeless being cannot be a PERSON.  Therefore, if Argument #6 and Argument #7 are both discussing the same being, then both arguments are discussing a non-existent being, for in order for something to be the creator of the universe it must be a PERSON.  The idea that the creator of the universe is NOT a person is an incoherent idea, so no such being exists.
In short, if Argument #7 were a sound argument that proved it’s conclusion to be true, then Argument #7 would be of no use in a cumulative case for God, because the conclusion of Argument #7 is about the existence of a being that is NOT a person, and thus that being cannot be the creator of the universe, and thus that being cannot be God.  Therefore, not only does Argument #7 fail to prove that God exists (because it only relates to one of the basic divine attributes), but if it were in fact a sound argument, it would prove the existence of a being that is NOT the creator, and that is NOT God.
 
INITIAL ANALYSIS OF ARGUMENT #7
Here is Kreeft’s summary of Argument #7:

1. If something exists, then there must exist what it takes for that thing to exist.

2. The universe–the collection of beings in space and time–exists.

3. Therefore, there must exist what it takes for the universe to exist.

4. What it takes for the universe to exist cannot exist within the universe or be bounded by space and time.

5. Therefore, what it takes for the universe to exist must transcend both space and time.

(HCA, p.61)
It is clear from Kreeft’s discussion of this argument that he is talking about the existence of the universe at a particular moment in time, specifically: “now”.   Because of this temporal specificity, the above statement of the argument needs to be clarified so that it refers to a specific moment in time:

1a. If something exists at time t1, then there must exist at time t1 what it takes for that thing to exist at time t1.

2a. The universe–the collection of beings in space and time–exists at time t1.

THEREFORE:

3a. There must exist at time t1 what it takes for the universe to exist at time t1.

4a. What it takes for the universe to exist at time t1 cannot exist within the universe or be bounded by space and time.

THEREFORE:

5a. What it takes for the universe to exist at time t1 must exist at time t1 and must transcend both space and time.

The ultimate conclusion of the argument is based on (5a):

6. There is EXACTLY ONE being that is the cause of the current existence of the universe, and this being exists right now and is OUTSIDE of both space and time, and this being is NOT finite or material.

Because Kreeft does not include references to a specific moment in time, it might be objected that it is unfair to ascribe to Kreeft the assumption that the cause of the existence of a thing X at time t1 must itself exist at time t1 in order to cause the existence of X at time t1.   But when Kreeft gives his primary example of a “contingent” being, he clearly implies this to be the case:
…you know that right now, as you read this book, you are dependent for your existence on beings outside you.  Not your parents or grandparents.  They may no longer be alive, but you exist now.  And right now you depend on many things in order to exist–for example, on the air you breathe.  To be dependent in this way is to be contingent.  You exist if something else right now exists.  (HCA, p.61)
Kreeft infers that the cause of a person’s existence right now cannot be the “parents or grandparents” of that person, because people continue to exist even when their parents or grandparents no longer exist.  This inference is clearly based on the assumption that something that does NOT exist right now CANNOT cause something else to exist right now.  Therefore (1a) is an accurate and correct clarification of the first premise of Argument #7.