bookmark_borderThe Unmoved Mover Argument – Part 4: Finite Changing Things Exist?

In his book When Skeptics Ask (1990), Norman Geisler presents a Thomist Cosmological Argument for the existence of God (although he FAILED to conclude the argument with the claim that “God exists”!).  I am now going to start evaluating the first premise of this argument:

1. Finite, changing things exist.  (When Skeptics Ask, p. 18; hereafter: WSA.)

Here is the argument Geisler gives in support of this premise:

For example, me. I would have to exist to deny that I exist; so either way, I must really exist.  (WSA, p. 18)

That is the entire extent of Geisler’s defense of premise (1), at least in WSA.  Geisler also has a much older book called Philosophy of Religion (1974; hereafter: PoR), and in that older book he provides three and a half full pages of argumentation in support of premise (1).  So, after I examine his very brief argument for premise (1) from WSA,  I will turn to the arguments that he presents in Chapter 9 of PoR, in support of premise (1) of his Thomist Cosmological Argument.
Pronouns are the devil’s workshop.  They should be avoided whenever possible in carefully-stated philosophical arguments, to avoid UNCLARITY and AMBIGUITY and EQUIVOCATION.  So, let’s revise Geisler’s brief argument in support of premise (1) to make it more clear:

I would have to exist in order to deny that I exist… (WSA, p.18)

==> Norman Geisler would have to exist in order to deny that Norman Geisler exists.

==>Norman Geisler would have to exist in order to deny the claim that Norman Geisler exists.

==>IF Norman Geisler denies the claim that “Norman Geisler exists.”, THEN Norman Geisler exists.

10. IF Norman Geisler denies the claim that “Norman Geisler exists.”, THEN Norman Geisler exists.

That is a key premise in this argument in support of premise (1).  I take it that (10) is TRUE; it is obviously true.  So, that is a good start, at least. What is the immediate conclusion of this argument?  Here is how Geisler states the conclusion:

…I must really exist.   (WSA, p.18)

Words like “must” and “necessarily” are sometimes used as inference indicators, like the words “thus” and “therefore”.  Such words should be stripped out of carefully-stated philosophical arguments (they are about the logic of the argument, the inferences in the argument, not about the content of the claims in the argument).  Also the word “really” is superfluous here.  Premise (1) makes no distinction between “really existing” and just plain “existing”, so there is no need for such a distinction within an argument supporting premise (1):

…I must really exist. (WSA, p.18)

==> I really exist.

==>I exist.

==>Norman Geisler exists.

11. Norman Geisler exists.

We now have a clear statement of Geisler’s brief argument in support of premise (1):

10. IF Norman Geisler denies the claim that “Norman Geisler exists.”, THEN Norman Geisler exists.

THEREFORE:

11. Norman Geisler exists.

THEREFORE:

1. Finite, changing things exist.

Just in case you did not notice,  this argument is a piece of SHIT.  It is a stinking philosophical TURD.  Both of the inferences in this argument are clearly and obviously INVALID.  This is NOT rocket science.  So, the fact that the initial premise (10) is TRUE is not enough to make this piece of SHIT argument worth anything.
If I were teaching a Philosophy 101 course, and a freshman turned in a paper that presented this argument,  I would not hesitate for a moment to give that paper an F.    I would expect more out of a freshman taking an introductory philosophy course than what Geisler (a professor of philosophy who has published dozens of books on Christian apologetics, philosophy of religion, and theology) has provided us here.
It seems easy to fix the first part of this argument.  We need to add another premise, one that Geisler neglected to mention:

10. IF Norman Geisler denies the claim that “Norman Geisler exists.”, THEN Norman Geisler exists.

A. Norman Geisler denies the claim that “Norman Geisler exists.”

THEREFORE:

11. Norman Geisler exists.

By adding premise (A), we turn Geisler’s INVALID first inference into a VALID inference (called modus ponens). But premise (A) is clearly and obviously FALSE.  So, if this is the argument Geisler had intended, then he has provided an argument that is clearly UNSOUND, and that FAILS to support premise (1).
There is a short phrase in Geisler’s statement of this argument that gives us a clue about how we might be able to fix this first INVALID inference:  “…so either way, I must really exist.”  What is he talking about when he says “either way”?
The phrase “either way” comes out of nowhere and has no clear reference.  However, I suspect that he is talking about the possibility of EITHER accepting the claim “Norman Geisler exists.” or denying the claim “Norman Geisler exists.” Let’s assume that these are the alternatives he had in mind in writing the phrase “either way”.  In that case, we could revise his initial inference this way:

B. EITHER Norman Geisler accepts the claim that “Norman Geisler exists.” OR Norman Geisler denies the claim that “Norman Geisler exists.”

C. IF Norman Geisler accepts the claim that “Norman Geisler exists.”, THEN Norman Geisler exists.

10. IF Norman Geisler denies the claim that “Norman Geisler exists.”, THEN Norman Geisler exists.

THEREFORE:

11. Norman Geisler exists.

This argument is not obviously INVALID, like the original argument.  In fact, this revised argument is logically VALID, and premise (C) is clearly and obviously TRUE, as well as premise (10).  So, in order to determine whether this revised argument is SOUND, we need to determine whether premise (B) is true.
Upon reflection premise (B) is FALSE, or at least its truth it problematic.  There is a third possibility not mentioned in (B), and also a fourth possibility as well:

  • Norman Geisler neither accepts nor denies the claim that “Norman Geisler exists.”  
  • Norman Geisler does NOT exist.

Failing to notice the first possibility is similar to making the assumption that everyone must either believe the claim “God exists.” or deny the claim “God exists.”  But some people have never heard about the idea of “God” and have no opinion either way (for example, infants are neither theists nor atheists).  Also, some people who have heard about the idea of “God” remain undecided on the question “Does God exist?”.  Agnostics often neither accept nor deny the claim that “God exists.”
A fourth possibility is that there is no such person or being as “Norman Geisler”.  In order to eliminate this fourth possibility, one would have to assume that “Norman Geisler exists”.  But that is the VERY CONCLUSION that is being argued for here.  Such an assumption would BEG THE QUESTION in the very first premise of this revised argument.
So, Geisler has FAILED to establish his first intermediate conclusion:

11. Norman Geisler exists.

But there are still more problems with this stinking philosophical TURD that Geisler has provided for us:

11. Norman Geisler exists.

THEREFORE:

1. Finite, changing things exist.

There are four words in premise (1), and Geisler has completely IGNORED three of those four words:  “Finite”, “changing”, and “things”.  He did make an attempt to show that “Norman Geisler exists“, but, as we just determined:

  • He has FAILED to show that Norman Geisler exists.

This second inference from (11) to (1) is not merely INVALID; it is TRIPLY INVALID!  It is illogical in three different respects:

  • He has FAILED to show that Norman Geisler is “finite”.
  • He has FAILED to show that Norman Geisler is “changing”.
  • He has FAILED to show that Norman Geisler is a “thing”.

So, there are four different claims that he needs to prove in order to support premise (1), and he FAILED to prove EACH of those four different things.  That is why Geisler’s argument in support of (1) in WSA is a stinking philosophical TURD.  It would be difficult to locate an argument by a professor of philosophy that was so awful and that so obviously FAILED.

bookmark_borderThe Unmoved Mover Argument – Part 3: Norman vs. Bradley

I’m having fun with critical examination of Norman Geisler’s Thomist cosmological argument in When Skeptics Ask.  There is also a more detailed and in-depth presentation of this argument in Chapter 9 of Geisler’s much older book The Philosophy of Religion (1974).
I previously thought that the first premise of his Thomist cosmological argument was obviously true, but now I’m not so sure.  I now think there are problems of UNCLARITY in the key terms “finite thing” and “changing thing.”
Below is a short fictional dialogue that I quickly constructed to explore some of my thoughts about what it means to say something is a “finite thing”.
I will return to my usual, more pedantic style in future posts.
=====================
Bradley: This pebble in my hand is INFINITE!
Norman: No it isn’t. It is a small object. I can plainly see that it is less than 1″ in diameter.
Bradley: True. It is not INFINITE in its size. However, it might still be an INFINITE thing. It might have INFINITE mass.
Norman: Nope. Plainly you are able to hold the pebble up with just one hand, so it must weigh less than 200 pounds. Since you are not straining at all to hold the pebble up with just one hand, it probably weighs less than 10 pounds. Assuming it is an ordinary pebble, given its size, it probably weighs less than 1 pound.
Bradley: OK. All right. The pebble has a finite size, and a finite mass. Perhaps it contains INFINITE energy.
Norman: If it contained INFINITE heat energy, you would not be able to hold it in your hand. It would instantly burn a hole through your hand.
Bradley: What if it had INFINITE electrical energy?
Norman: Then it would electrocute you and instantly fry your entire body like a billion lightning strikes hitting your hand all at once.
Bradley: You have a point there. Maybe it contains INFINITE kinetic energy.
Norman: I don’t think so. Kinetic energy depends in part on the mass of the object, and we have already established that the pebble has only a small amount of mass, and it clearly isn’t moving very fast, if at all.
Bradley: How about the past age of the pebble? Perhaps this pebble has existed for an INFINITE amount of time.
Norman: I doubt that. The earth is supposed to be about 4.5 billion years old, so the pebble is probably less than 4.5 billion years old (according to your godless evolution-infected geology).
Bradley: But you don’t know the history of this specific pebble. Maybe it came from another planet or from another galaxy. Can you prove that this pebble has only existed for a finite number of years?
Norman: Well, according to the Kalam Cosmological Argument, there cannot be an actually infinite number of days or years that have elapsed in the past.
Bradley: But if you need the Kalam Cosmological Argument in order to demonstrate the first premise of your Thomist Cosmological Argument, then you don’t have two independent arguments. Both arguments in that case would depend on the key claim in the Kalam argument that an actually infinite number of days or years cannot have elapsed in the past.
Norman: I’m confident of the truth of that premise of the Kalam argument, so I’m OK with making the success of both of my cosmological arguments depend on that premise.
Bradley: We have been discussing various common and easily observable physical attributes. Aren’t there lots of other possible physical attributes possessed by this pebble? In addition to being composed of molecules and atoms, it is also composed of sub-atomic particles, like: quarks, leptons, and bosons. Perhaps one of the properties of one of the sub-atomic particles in the pebble is INFINITE.
Do we know ALL of the kinds of sub-atomic particles that exist in this universe? I doubt it. Do we know ALL of the various properties of the sub-atomic particles that are currently known to exist? I don’t think so. Given that we still have a lot to learn about sub-atomic particles, I don’t see how (at this point in time) we can be sure that no sub-atomic particles in this pebble have any INFINITE properties.
Norman: I’ll admit that there is probably much that we have yet to learn about the kinds and characteristics of sub-atomic particles.  But based on all of the ordinary physical properties that we are familiar with, which the pebble possesses in only finite amounts and degrees, and based on the properties of sub-atomic particles that we know about now, we should expect that new properties that will be discovered about the sub-atomic particles in pebbles, will also be possessed by the pebble in only finite amounts and degrees and NOT in INFINTE amounts or degrees.
Bradley: Perhaps all future discoveries about the properties of sub-atomic particles will be limited to properties that exist in only finite amounts and degrees, but we cannot know this ahead of time.  Since there still appear to be some mysteries to unravel in the world of sub-atomic particles, what about the possibility that this pebble has an INFINITE number of physical properties? I don’t see how we can be certain that the number of physical properties possessed by this pebble is a finite number.  Perhaps there is no end to the discovery of natural physical properties of this pebble.
Furthermore, since you believe that there is also a SUPERNATURAL realm, could it be that this pebble has some SUPERNATURAL properties, in addition to the natural physical properties it has? If so, then one of its SUPERNATURAL properties could be INFINITE.  Can you prove that this pebble has no INFINITE SUPERNATURAL properties?  Can you prove that you know ALL of the SUPERNATURAL properties that this pebble possesses?  I don’t think so.

bookmark_borderThe Unmoved Mover Argument – Part 2: Geisler’s Thomist Argument

I plan to analyze and evaluate Ed Feser’s Aristotelian proof of the existence of God (in Five Proofs of the Existence of God).  But first I want to analyze and evaluate Aquinas’s Unmoved Mover proof.  And before I do that,  I wanted to warm up by doing an analysis and evaluation of Peter Kreeft’s Unmoved-Mover proof, which I did in the first post of this series.
I could get started on Aquinas’ First Way (Unmoved Mover Proof) right now, but I think I will warm up a bit more by doing an analysis and evaluation of Norman Geisler’s version of a Thomist cosmological argument.   Geisler does not state his argument in terms of motion, nor does he say that he is re-stating Aquinas’s First Way or Unmoved Mover proof.  However, Geisler does indicate that the cosmological argument that I will be examining here is based on the cosmological arguments of Aquinas.
Geisler distinguishes between horizontal and vertical types of cosmological arguments. He categorizes the Kalam argument as a horizontal cosmological argument, and he categorizes four of Aquinas’s Five Ways as vertical cosmological arguments:

There are two basic forms of the cosmological argument: the horizontal or kalam cosmological argument and the vertical.  The horizontal cosmological argument reasons back to a Cause of the beginning of the universe.  The vertical cosmological argument reasons from the being of the universe as it now exists.  The former, explaining how the universe came to be, was championed by Bonaventure (1221-1274).  The latter, explaining how it continues to be, flows from Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274).  The first calls for an originating Cause, and the latter for a sustaining Cause.  (“Cosmological Argument” in Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, p.160)

In the same article, Geisler summarizes four of Aquinas’s Five Ways, and then presents a more general cosmological argument that he thinks reflects “a basic form behind all of these arguments [by Aquinas]”.  Geisler provides such a generalized Thomist cosmological argument in his book When Skeptics Ask (hereafter: WSA).
In WSA, Geisler distinguishes two different types of cosmological argument, and gives one argument of each type.  He does not use the terms “vertical” and “horizontal”, but the distinction he makes in WSA appears to be the same one he makes in the above article, just minus the terminology:

There are two different forms of this argument, so we will show them to you separately.  The first form says that the universe needed a cause at its beginning; the second form argues that it needs a cause right now to continue existing.  (WSA, p.16).

The first cosmological argument Geisler presents in WSA is the Kalam cosmological argument, which asserts that the universe needed a cause at its beginning (a horizontal cosmological argument).  The second cosmological argument that Geisler presents in WSA asserts that the universe needs a cause right now to continue existing (a vertical cosmological argument).   So, it is reasonable to infer that the second cosmological argument in WSA is Geisler’s generalized version of a Thomist cosmological argument:

1. Finite, changing things exist.

2. Every finite changing thing must be caused by something else.

3. There cannot be an infinite regress of these causes.

THEREFORE:

4. [There is]…a first uncaused cause of every finite, changing thing that exists.

(WSA, p. 18 & 19. I left out the text defending each of the premises; we will get into that later.)
Geisler draws one further conclusion from (4):

This argument shows why there must be a present, conserving cause of the world, but it doesn’t tell us very much about what kind of God exists. 

(WSA, p.19)

So, I take it that there is another key claim that is inferred from (4):

4. [There is]…a first uncaused cause of every finite, changing thing that exists.

THEREFORE:

5. There is a present, conserving cause of the world.

Geisler’s cosmological argument FAILS right off the starting line, just like Kreeft’s Unmoved Mover argument FAILED right off the starting line.  There is NO MENTION OF GOD in the conclusion of Geisler’s argument!
There is no mention of God in any of the premises, and no mention of God in the conclusion.  If a freshman taking Philosophy 101 turned in a paper that was an attempt to prove the existence of God, but provided the above argument,  I would give that paper an F, and that student would fail the course, unless and until the paper was revised so that the conclusion of the argument was this:

(G) God exists.

Geisler is a professor of philosophy, and he has published dozens of books in Christian apologetics and theology.  You would think that he could manage to produce arguments for God that had “God exists” as the conclusion.   This is not rocket science! This is Philosophy 101, or Critical Thinking 101.  Twelve of Kreeft’s twenty arguments for the existence of God, also do NOT conclude that “God exists”.  So, both Kreeft and Geisler are unclear on the concept that an argument for the existence of God should conclude that “God exists”.
We could repair Geisler’s obviously defective cosmological argument by adding a missing premise to his argument:

5. There is a present, conserving cause of the world.

A. IF there is a present, conserving cause of the world, THEN God exists.

THEREFORE:

G.  God exists. 

Now we can see the basic structure of Geisler’s argument:
There are a couple of reasons why I’m not sure that adding premise (A) is the best way to represent Geisler’s Thomist cosmological argument.  First, premise (A) seems obviously to be FALSE, so this re-construction of Geisler’s argument might be thought to be a Straw Man.
Second,  Geisler understands that none of his arguments show that “God exists”, given the ordinary meaning of that statement (i.e. There exists a bodiless person who is the creator of the universe, and who is eternally omnipotent, eternally omniscient, and eternally perfectly morally good.).
So, in WSA after Geisler presents five basic arguments, he then attempts to cobble his various arguments together into an overall case for the conclusion that “God exists”.  He fails utterly and pathetically at this attempt, but that is the general structure of his reasoning.  In short, Geisler’s case for the existence of God requires that ALL FIVE of his arguments be SOUND, so that he can use different arguments to show different divine attributes (e.g. cosmological arguments to show divine power and the existence of an eternal creator, an argument from design to show divine intelligence, a moral law argument to show divine goodness).
We can, however, alter the content of premise (A), so that it asserts a conjunction of the conclusions of Geisler’s other arguments, in order to more accurately represent his case for God:

A1.  There exists a very powerful creator of the universe, and there exists a very intelligent designer of the universe, and there exists a perfectly good moral law giver.

Premise (A1) is clearly a very strong claim, and we would be perfectly reasonable to reject this premise unless all of Geisler’s other arguments were solid.  So, if any of Geisler’s other arguments FAIL or have significant problems, then Geisler’s argument/case for the existence of God FAILS.
Geisler’s argument/case for God works only if ALL of his lower-level arguments are SOUND, only if both of his cosmological arguments (Kalam and Thomist), and his argument from design, and also his moral law argument are all SOUND arguments.  Note: Geisler also has an Ontological Argument, but he doesn’t use it to show the existence of a necessary being.  He uses this argument to show a conditional claim, something like this: “If there is a creator of the universe, then that creator is a necessary being”. This conditional statement plays a role in his overall case for God.
In the next post of this series I will evaluate Geisler’s Thomist cosmological argument, at least the part of it that supports premise (5).  I’m not planning to evaluate premise (A1), because that would require evaluating all of the other lower-level arguments Geisler presents in WSA.

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part #31: Evaluation of Phase 2 Continued

WHERE WE ARE AT
In Phase 2 of Argument #6, the Kalam Cosmological Argument, Peter Kreeft aims to establish two claims:

4. The cause of the coming into being of the universe is eternal.

5. The cause of the coming into being of the universe was a person.

In Part 30, I argued that Kreeft’s argument for claim (4) is UNSOUND and should be rejected.  In this current post I will consider and evaluate Kreeft’s argument for claim (5).
 
THE ARGUMENT FOR THE CAUSE OF THE UNIVERSE BEING A PERSON
Kreeft prefers to talk about God as being “personal” rather than as being a “person”.  However, there is no clear difference between these characterizations.  Furthermore, Kreeft does sometimes refer to God as a “person,” and we can specifically define the word “person” in keeping with what Kreeft means by a “personal” being.
In discussing the Moral Argument for God, Kreeft uses the word “person” with reference to God:
It seems most reasonable that moral conscience is the voice of God within the soul, because moral value exists only on the level of persons, minds and wills. And it is hard, if not impossible, to conceive of objective moral principles somehow floating around on their own, apart from any persons.  (HCA, p.73)
Kreeft is saying here that it makes sense to view God as being the source of moral value because God is a person.  What he means by “person” is a being that has a mind and a will.
Since non-human animals have minds (or a degree of intelligence), and since we don’t consider most animals to be persons, the requirement to have a mind can be narrowed to the requirement to have at least a human level of intelligence.  Having a will means being able to make choices and decisions, especially between alternative courses of action.  So, we can define “person” for the purpose of Kreeft’s arguments about God as follows:

X is a “person” IF AND ONLY IF:

X is a being that has at least a human level of intelligence, and X is able to make choices between alternative courses of action.

Here is a summary of Kreeft’s reasoning (see HCA, page 60)  in support of claim (5):

3. The universe has a cause of its coming into being.

13. IF the universe has a cause of its coming into being, THEN:  either the cause of the universe coming into being was a person or the cause of the universe coming into being was not a person.

THEREFORE:

14. EITHER the cause of the universe coming into being was a person, OR the cause of the universe coming into being was not a person.

FURTHERMORE:

15. IF the cause of the universe coming into being was not a person, THEN the universe has always existed.

16. IF the universe has always existed, THEN it is not the case that the universe began to exist.

2. The universe began to exist.

THEREFORE:

17.  It is not the case that the cause of the universe coming into being was not a person.

14. EITHER the cause of the universe coming into being was a person, OR the cause of the universe coming into being was not a person.

THEREFORE:

5. The cause of the coming into being of the universe was a person.

 
EVALUATION  OF PREMISE (13)
Premise (13) is FALSE, so this Phase 2 argument is UNSOUND.
In the consequent of (13) we find the expression “the cause of the universe…”, but the antecedent of (13) only speaks of “a cause of the universe”.  We cannot logically infer that there is such a thing as “the cause of the universe” from the assumption that there was “a cause of the universe”.  The expression “a cause” means that there was “at least one cause”, but the expression “the cause” implies that there was “EXACTLY ONE cause”.  Since the claim that there was “at least one cause” leaves open the possibility that there were two or more causes, the antecedent of (13) does NOT logically imply the consequent of (13), so premise (13) is FALSE, and thus the Argument for the Cause of the Universe being a Person is UNSOUND.
Premise (13) could be modified, so that the consequent only talks about “a cause of the universe” instead of “the cause of the universe”.  Premises (14), (15) and (17) would have to be similarly modified, as well as the conclusion:

5a. At least one cause of the universe coming into being was a person.

So, this problem with (13) being FALSE appears to be a fixable problem.
 
EVALUATION OF PREMISE (15)
Premise (15) asserts that the idea that the universe was caused by a non-person logically implies that the universe has always existed.  This is because an “impersonal cause” would have to have always been operative, thus implying that the universe was always being caused to exist:
Suppose further that this cause is not personal; …In that case it is hard to see how the universe could be anything but infinitely old, since all the conditions needed for the being of the universe would exist from all eternity. (HCA, p.60)
But recall (from Part 30 of this series), that “the universe” as defined by Kreeft basically refers to the collection of currently existing galaxies that make up most of what currently exists in both space and time.  The galaxies that currently exist are clearly the result of natural causes that operated in both space and time.  Star formation which began about 100 million years after the Big Bang is an important natural cause of the coming into being of galaxies that began to exist about 400 million years after the Big Bang.  Thus, it is FALSE that the “impersonal causes” of the coming into being of the currently existing galaxies have always been operative, and it is FALSE that “all the conditions needed for the being” of the galaxies that currently exist have existed “from all eternity”.
It appears to be the case that the cause of the formation of the galaxies was NOT a person, and yet it is also clearly the case that the non-personal cause (or causes) of the galaxies have NOT always existed, and thus there is no reason to believe that “the universe”, in Kreeft’s sense of this phrase, must have always existed.  So, Kreeft’s reasoning supporting (15) is based on false assumptions, and it is clear that the antecedent of (15) is true while the consequent of (15) is false, making premise (15) itself a FALSE premise.  Therefore, the Argument for the Cause of the Universe being a Person is UNSOUND, and should be rejected.
While there is some possibility that Kreeft could come up with a better definition of “the universe”, one which makes premise (15) true,  given that Kreeft has greatly wasted my time, and your time, with 19 FAILED ARGUMENTS for the existence of God, there is no good reason to believe that Kreeft would or could improve upon this argument to make it into a GOOD one.
Argument #6 has other problems besides premise (15) being FALSE, so the argument would still FAIL even if Kreeft did, contrary to reasonable expectations, revise and improve premise (15) to make it true.
 
CONCLUSIONS ABOUT ARGUMENT #6: THE KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

  • Argument #6 fails to show the existence of an omnipotent person, an omniscient person, a perfectly morally good person, an eternal person (i.e. a person who has existed forever in the past and who will continue to exist forever in the future), and it fails to show the existence of a person who is the creator of the universe, so it is of little use in a cumulative case for God.
  • Argument #6, if SOUND, would prove the existence of a being that is OUTSIDE OF TIME, and thus a being that cannot change in any way, cannot be a person, cannot be the creator of anything, a being that cannot be God.
  • Argument #6, is UNSOUND, if we understand the phrase “the universe” in the way that Kreeft has defined and explained that term; premise (15) is FALSE, assuming Kreeft’s definition of “the universe”, and either premise (10) or (11) must be FALSE, assuming Kreeft’s definition of “the universe”.
  • Argument #6 has an intermediate premise, premise (3), which if understood in accordance with Kreeft’s definition of “the universe,” makes a claim that while being true is IRRELEVANT to the question of the existence of God.  The cause (or causes) spoken of in premise (3) would be natural causes that existed in both space and in time (e.g. the process of star formation that began about 100 million years after the Big Bang was one of the primary causes of the coming into existence of galaxies, which began about 400 million years after the Big Bang).

 

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part #30: Phase 2 of the Kalam Argument

WHERE WE ARE AT
In Part 29,  I criticized Phase 1 of Peter Kreeft’s Argument #6: the Kalam Cosmological Argument.  In this post, I will begin to analyze and evaluate Phase 2 of Argument #6.
Phase 1 of the Kalam Cosmological Argument goes like this (HCA, p.58):

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its coming into being.

2. The universe began to exist.

THEREFORE:

3. The universe has a cause of its coming into being.

Based on the conclusion of this argument, Kreeft lays out further reasoning in support of these conclusions:

4. The cause of the coming into being of the universe is eternal.

5. The cause of the coming into being of the universe was a person.

 
THE ARGUMENT FOR THE CAUSE OF THE UNIVERSE BEING ETERNAL
Here is a summary of Kreeft’s reasoning in support of claim (4):

3. The universe has a cause of its coming into being.

10. IF the universe has a cause of its coming into being, THEN the cause of the coming into being of the universe is the cause of the entire universe of space and time.

11. IF the cause of the coming into being of the universe is the cause of the entire universe of space and time, THEN the cause of the coming into being of the universe must be outside the limitations and constraints of space and time.

THEREFORE:

12. The cause of the coming into being of the universe must be outside the limitations and constraints of space and time.

A.  Anything that is outside the limitations and constraints of space and time is eternal.

THEREFORE:

4. The cause of the coming into being of the universe is eternal.

 
EVALUATION OF THE ARGUMENT FOR THE CAUSE OF THE UNIVERSE BEING ETERNAL
Premise (3) appears to be true, assuming the following definition of “the universe”, which comes from Kreeft’s definition plus some clarifications that Kreeft provided via email:

X is “the universe” IF AND ONLY IF:
X is the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time.

So, the first two premises of the argument for the cause of the beginning of “the universe” being eternal should be interpreted this way:

3a. The collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time has a cause of its coming into being.

10a. IF the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time has a cause of its coming into being, THEN the cause of the coming into being of the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time is the cause of the entire universe of space and time.

The phrase “the entire universe of space and time” in the consequent of premise (10a) is ambiguous.  On the one hand, the word “entire” could be read simply as emphasizing the notion of “all” in the previous phrase “the collection of all of the things…”.  In that case,  (10a) is TRUE because the consequent of (10a) is a tautology, making (10a) itself a tautology.
On the other hand, the word “entire” could be read as referring to everything in the entire history of things that have existed in both space and in time.  In that case, (10a) would be making a substantial claim, but a claim that appears to be FALSE.  The antecedent of premise (10a) talks about a cause of the “collection of all of the things” that CURRENTLY EXIST “in both space and in time”, so if the consequent of (10a) is talking about a cause of the “collection of all of the things” that HAVE EVER EXISTED “in both space and in time,” then the consequent of (10a) goes well beyond the information provided in the antecedent.
There is no good reason to believe that the cause of what currently exists in both space and time  must also be the cause of everything that has ever existed in both space and in time.  That is clearly a hasty generalization, and is NOT a logical implication of the antecedent of (10a).  Thus, on this interpretation, premise (10a) is FALSE.
But if we interpret the consequent of (10a) to be merely a tautology, then we should restate (10a) to make the tautology obvious:

10b. IF the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time has a cause of its coming into being, THEN the cause of the coming into being of the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time is the cause of the coming into being of the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time.

This is clearly an uninformative and useless premise, and in order to make this premise logically connect with premise (11), we would need to restate (11) in similar terms:

11b. IF the cause of the coming into being of the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time is the cause of the coming into being of the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time, THEN the cause of the coming into being of the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time must be outside the limitations and constraints of space and time.

On this interpretation premise (11b) is FALSE, because although the antecedent of (11b) is necessarily true, the consequent can be false, and we have good reason to believe that the consequent of (11b) is in fact false, so (11b) is itself FALSE.
As I argued in Part 29, “the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time” did not begin to exist until about 400 million years after the Big Bang, because the first galaxies began to form about 400 million years after the Big Bang.  Galaxies are about the largest and most significant “things” that currently exist, and none of the galaxies that currently exist existed prior to about 400 million years after the Big Bang.  Thus, “the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time” did not begin to exist until the first galaxies began to exist.
But the cause (or causes) of the coming into being of the first galaxies was NOT something “outside the limitations and constraints of space and time”.  For example, the process of star formation is an important part of the “cause” of the formation of galaxies.  But stars did not develop until about 100 million years after the Big Bang, so the development of stars took place INSIDE of space and INSIDE of time.  We have good reason to believe that the cause (or causes) of the coming into being of galaxies were perfectly natural causes that existed both in space and in time.
 
CONCLUSION
Premise (11b) is clearly FALSE.  But in order to make use of premise (10b), we must interpret premise (11) to mean what (11b) means.  So, either premise (10)  is a true claim but a tautology and premise (11) is a FALSE premise, or else premise (10) makes a more substantial claim and premise (10) is itself a FALSE premise.  Therefore, either premise (10) is FALSE or else premise (11) is FALSE, and in either case, the Argument for the Cause of the Universe Being Eternal is UNSOUND, and should be rejected.
Furthermore, as I have previously indicated, if this argument were SOUND, that would mean that Argument #6 proves the existence of a being that is OUTSIDE OF TIME, and such a being cannot change, and thus cannot be a person, and cannot be the creator of anything, and therefore cannot be God.  So, if Phase 1 of Argument #6 was a SOUND argument, and if the Phase 2 Argument for the Cause of the Universe being Eternal was also SOUND, then Argument #6 would prove the existence of a being that is clearly NOT God.
If Argument #6 is UNSOUND, then the argument FAILS.  If Argument #6 is SOUND, then the argument FAILS.  Either way, Argument #6 FAILS to show that God exists.

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part #29: Evaluation of Premise (2)

Here is the second premise of Argument #6 (the Kalam Cosmological Argument) in Peter Kreeft’s case for the existence of God, from Chapter 3 of his Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA):

2. The universe began to exist. (HCA, p.58)

In order to be able to rationally determine whether this claim is true or false, we need to first understand what it means.
Based on a definition of “the universe” from Kreeft, plus some clarifications of that definition that were also provided by Kreeft, I understand this phrase as follows:

X is “the universe” IF AND ONLY IF:
X is the collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time.

We can revise premise (2) in accordance with this understanding:

2a. The collection of all of the things that currently exist in both space and in time began to exist.

If (2a) is true, then (2) is true.  If (2a) is false, then (2) is false.  So, we need to determine whether (2a) is true or false.
Because we have clarified the meaning of this claim, it becomes fairly easy to evaluate this claim, and it is now clear to me that this claim is in fact TRUE.
 
THE COLLECTION OF ALL OF THE THINGS THAT CURRENTLY EXIST…
What is “The collection of all the things that currently exist in both space and in time”?
Well, basically, this is the collection of the currently existing GALAXIES:
Galaxy
    A galaxy is a gravitationally bound system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas, dust, and dark matter.[1][2] The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias (γαλαξίας), literally “milky”, a reference to the Milky Way. Galaxies range in size from dwarfs with just a few hundred million (108) stars to giants with one hundred trillion (1014) stars,[3] each orbiting its galaxy’s center of mass.
    Galaxies are categorized according to their visual morphology as elliptical,[4] spiral, or irregular.[5] Many galaxies are thought to have supermassive black holes at their active centers. The Milky Way’s central black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, has a mass four million times greater than the Sun.[6] As of March 2016, GN-z11 is the oldest and most distant observed galaxy with a comoving distance of 32 billion light-years from Earth, and observed as it existed just 400 million years after the Big Bang.
    Recent estimates of the number of galaxies in the observable universe range from 200 billion (2×1011)[7] to 2 trillion (2×1012) or more,[8][9] containing more stars than all the grains of sand on planet Earth.[10]
There is a little bit of gas between galaxies, but it is roughly correct to say that “The collection of all the things that currently exist in both space and in time” is “The collection of galaxies that currently exist.”  So, we can clarify the second premise a bit more:

2b. The collection of galaxies that currently exist began to exist.

Statement (2b) is clearly a true statement, and since (2b) is roughly equivalent to (2a), the fact that (2b) is clearly true, provides us with good reason to believe that (2a) is true, and if (2a) is true, then (2) is also true.  So, we have good reason to believe that premise (2) is true, assuming Kreeft’s definition of “the universe”.
Furthermore, although the galaxies that currently exist might not include absolutely everything that currently exists in both space and in time (because, for example, there is some gas between the galaxies), those galaxies (and the contents of those galaxies) clearly constitute MOST of the things that currently exist in both space and in time.  So, if those galaxies (and the contents of those galaxies) began to exist, then MOST of the things that currently exist in both space and in time began to exist, and thus “The collection of all the things that currently exist in both space and in time” began to exist, because that collection did NOT exist until those galaxies began to exist.
Based on current Big Bang astronomy,  stars did not begin to form until about 100 or 200 million years after the Big Bang.  So, for the first 100 million years after the Big Bang, there were no stars and no galaxies (or very few stars and galaxies).  The oldest galaxy that we know of formed about 400 million years after the Big Bang (see the quote above from an article on Galaxies). But stars and galaxies exist NOW, so the collection of currently existing galaxies BEGAN TO EXIST no earlier than about 400 million years after the Big Bang.  Clearly, premise (2b) is TRUE.
Did the collection of galaxies that currently exist begin to exist about 400 million years after the Big Bang?  Well at least ONE of the currently existing galaxies began to exist about 400 million years after the Big Bang.  But not all galaxies began to exist at the same time.
Our galaxy is the Milky Way Galaxy, and the nearest galaxy to ours is the Andromeda Galaxy.  The Andromeda Galaxy formed about 10 billions years ago (see article on the Andomeda Galaxy).  So, two of the currently existing galaxies are the Milky Way Galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy.  Since the Andomeda Galaxy is one of the currently existing galaxies, “the collection” of currently existing galaxies did not exist, one might reasonably assert, until the Andromeda Galaxy was formed about 10 billion years ago.  In that case, “the collection of galaxies that currently exist” did NOT exist prior to about 10 billion years ago, so it did not begin to exist prior to 10 billion years ago.
Since there are between 200 billion and 2 trillion galaxies that currently exist, it seems likely that some of those galaxies came into existence after the Andromeda Galaxy, perhaps sometime in the last billion years.  If one of the currently existing galaxies was formed in the past billion years, then “the collection of galaxies that currently exist” BEGAN TO EXIST less than one billion years ago, it would seem.
But did “the collection of galaxies that currently exist” begin to exist only when the most recently formed galaxy began to exist?  Or could “the collection of galaxies that currently exist” begin to exist sometime before every single galaxy in that collection was formed? For example, someone might reasonably claim that “the collection of galaxies that currently exist” began to exist when the oldest galaxy (among currently existing galaxies) began to exist.  Since the oldest currently existing galaxy that we know of formed about 400 million years after the Big Bang, on this view “the collection of galaxies that currently exist” began to exist about 400 million years after the Big Bang.
We can see now that the phrase “began to exist” is somewhat VAGUE when we are talking about collections of things.  On the one hand, it is somewhat reasonable to say that “the collection of currently existing galaxies”  began to exist when the oldest galaxy in that collection began to exist, even though billions of other galaxies would develop over the course of the next three billion years.  On the other hand, it is also reasonable to say that “the collection of currently existing galaxies” began to exist when the most recent galaxy began to exist (perhaps 10 billion years ago, or maybe less than one billion years ago).
Because of the vagueness of the phrase “began to exist” it is not clear whether “the collection of currently existing galaxies” began to exist about 13 billion years ago (when the oldest known galaxy formed), or 10 billion years ago (when the Andromeda Galaxy formed), or less than one billion years ago (when the most recent galaxy formed).  But one thing is clear: the collection of currently existing galaxies began to exist no earlier than hundreds of millions of years AFTER the Big Bang.
 
REVISED VERSION OF PHASE 1 ARGUMENT
We can reformulate the Phase 1 Argument to conform with the clarifications that we have developed above:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its coming into being.

2b. The collection of galaxies that currently exist began to exist.

THEREFORE:

3b. The collection of galaxies that currently exist has a cause of its coming into being.

In this reformulation of the argument, we can clearly see two important points:

  • Premise (2b) is clearly TRUE.
  • The conclusion (3b) is clearly IRRELEVANT to the question “Does God exist?”

Why is the conclusion (3b) irrelevant to the existence of God?  We already have a fairly good scientific explanation for how the collection of galaxies that currently exist came into being, for how this collection of galaxies began to exist.
For one thing, we know that they did NOT come into existence from out of nothing.  First there was the Big Bang, and about 100 million years later stars began to develop, and about 400 million years after the Big Bang, the first galaxy (among those that still exist) developed.  For at least the next three billion years more and more stars and galaxies developed.  Astronomers and astrophysicists can provide evidence-based theories and explanations of how the billions of galaxies that currently exist began to exist, so we have no need of the hypothesis of God to explain this phenomenon.
One more conclusion that we can draw here is that Kreeft has FAILED to properly define the phrase “the universe”.  So, the clarified version of the Phase 1 Argument of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is based on a BAD definition of “the universe”.  But the phrase “the universe” is a key concept in this argument, and in order to present a solid proof or argument for God, one must provide clear definitions of the key concepts in the argument, so it is Kreeft’s responsibility to provide a GOOD definition of “the universe” and he has FAILED to do so.
 
CONCLUSION
Kreeft’s Argument #6 FAILS because without a definition of “the universe” the argument is too UNCLEAR to be rationally evaluated, but with Kreeft’s definition of “the universe” the argument is IRRELEVANT to the question at issue: “Does God exist?”.  Either way, Argument #6 FAILS.

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part #28: Did the Universe Begin to Exist?

WHERE WE ARE AT
There is only one more argument in Kreeft’s case that we need to evaluate: 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.  Argument #6 has the same set of significant problems:

  • 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 beginning of the universe

Furthermore, the conclusion of Argument #6 asserts that the cause of the beginning 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 #6 was a sound argument, it would prove the existence of a being that was NOT God.
It might be objected that in his presentation of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, Kreeft provides reasoning in support of the conclusion that “the cause” of the beginning of the universe “must exist eternally” (HCA, p.60).  However, it is clear that this does NOT mean that this being has existed forever, because that would contradict the philosophical arguments used to support the second premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, and because Kreeft clearly indicates that what he means by “exist eternally” is that this cause exists OUTSIDE of time:
It must somehow stand outside the limitations and constraints of space and time. (HCA, p. 60)
But if this argument proves the existence of a thing or being that is outside of time, then that thing or being cannot change, cannot be a person, and cannot be the creator of anything, and so even if Argument #6 were a sound argument, it would necessarily FAIL to prove the existence of God.
 
THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE?
Kreeft seems to think that Argument #6 proves the existence of a creator of the universe:
…the world could not be infinitely old and must therefore have been created by God. (HCA, p.58)
Therefore, the universe has a cause of its coming into being, a Creator. (HCA, p.59)
This cause created the entire universe of space and time.  (HCA, p.60)
And the Kalam argument proves something central to the Christian belief in God: that the universe is not eternal and without beginning; that there is a Maker of heaven and earth.  (HCA, p.60)
Kreeft does argue that “the cause” of the beginning of the universe was a choice made by some being (or beings), but this falls short of showing that this being is the CREATOR of the universe.  In order to be the creator of the universe, a being must be a PERSON who INTENTIONALLY DESIGNS the universe and then MAKES the universe in accordance with that design.  Even if Kreeft were able to prove that “the cause” of the beginning of the universe was a choice by some being, he has NOT shown that this choice was made by a PERSON, nor that this choice involved MAKING the universe in accordance with a DESIGN for the universe that was produced by the mind of the being in question.  So, Kreeft FAILS to show that “the cause” of the universe was the CREATOR of the universe.
 
PHASE I OF ARGUMENT #6
Argument #6 can be divided into two phases.  In Phase 1, Kreeft argues that there is a cause of the beginning of the universe, and in Phase 2, he argues that this cause is “eternal” and is a being that made a choice that resulted in the universe coming into existence.  Let’s start with Phase 1 of the Kalam Cosmological Argument (see HCA, p.58):

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being.

2. The universe began to exist.

THEREFORE:

3. The universe has a cause for its coming into being.

The inference in the argument as stated here appears to be deductively valid, so the only question is whether the premises are both true.  Note, however, that the expression “begins to exist” in premise (1) must have the same meaning as the expression “began to exist” in premise (2) in order for the argument to be logically valid.  Furthermore, the expression “the universe” in premise (2) must have the same meaning as the expression “the universe” does in the conclusion, statement (3).
 
CLARIFICATION OF PREMISE (2) OF THE PHASE 1 ARGUMENT
Premise (2) consists of a subject and a predicate, both of which require clarification:

Subject:  The universe…

Predicate:  …began to exist.

Kreeft provides a definition of the phrase “the universe”:
Did the universe–the collection of all things bounded by space and time–begin to exist? (HCA, p.58)
This definition is very similar to the one Kreeft gives in Argument #7:
The universe–the collection of beings in space and time–exists. (HCA, p.61)
I have pointed out that there are various ambiguities in this definition, which result in the phrase “the universe” having at least sixteen different possible interpretations.
In email correspondence, Kreeft has provided some clarifications that eliminate some of the ambiguities in the definition.  Based on those clarifications, we can modify the definition of “the universe” to make it less ambiguous:

X is “the universe” IF AND ONLY IF:

X is the collection of all of the things that currently exist both in space and in time.

NOTE: The word “things” here includes plants, animals, and people, not just inanimate objects.
What about the predicate of premise (2)?  What does “began to exist” mean?  There is an important ambiguity in this expression.  It could mean either of the following:

  • came to exist out of nothing
  • came to exist out of something else

In the context of Christian theology, the idea that the universe “began to exist” suggests that the universe came to exist out of nothing.  But when we are talking about ordinary things, plants, animals, and human beings, things do NOT come to exist out of nothing.  Plants come from seeds, when buried in soil, and watered.  Animals and human beings come from the bodies of their parents.  We never experience things, plants, animals, or people coming from nothing.
So, if we are to interpret the phrase “began to exist” in accordance with our actual experience of the beginnings of things, plants, animals, and people, then we should interpret this phrase to mean “came to exist out of something else”.  On the other hand, if we are to interpret the phrase “began to exist” in accordance with Christian theology concerning the origin of the universe, then we should interpret this phrase to mean “came to exist out of nothing”.
Perhaps it is better to think about this distinction as two different sub-categories of “began to exist”.  In general, when something begins to exist, it represents a re-configuration of previously existing matter/energy.  However, we can conceive of the possibility of something beginning to exist from out of nothing, not from previously existing matter/energy.  This is a very odd possibility that we don’t ever experience or observe happening, but it seems to be a possibility.  So, things usually “began to exist” when there is a re-configuration of previously existing matter/energy, but we can imagine that some thing or things “began to exist” from out of nothing.
NEXT POST:  Is Premise (2) True?

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part #27: The Universe and Time

I am starting to think about the Kalam Cosmological Argument, Argument #6 in Peter Kreeft’s case for God, from Chapter 3 of his Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA).  This is the final argument that we need to consider in Kreeft’s case for God.
This is not the first time I have examined this argument.  When I was an undergraduate student of philosophy, my plan was to apply to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and to study philosophy of religion and Christian apologetics with Dr. William Craig.  I visited the campus one summer while on a road trip heading for the east coast.  I was hoping to meet Craig in person, but he was away at the time.  I did visit the campus bookstore and I picked up a copy of Craig’s popular presentation of the Kalam cosmological argument: The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe.  So, I have been aware of this argument since about 1982.
One major problem with this argument is that it is based on the claim that time does not stretch backwards for an infinite number of years, and thus time has a beginning.  The idea is that God is OUTSIDE of time, and thus God would be able to cause both time and the universe to begin to exist.  But this makes no sense, because the idea of a person existing OUTSIDE of time makes no sense, and the idea of a person creating something OUTSIDE of time makes even less sense.  The idea that “X caused Y to occur OUTSIDE of time” is an incoherent idea, at least that is my view on this issue.
Before we go any further on this interesting philosophical question about the relationship of time to persons, actions of persons, and cause-and-effect, I think we should explore the various logical possibilities about the relationship of time and the universe.
LOGICAL POSSIBILITIES CONCERNING THE UNIVERSE
The Kalam Cosmological Argument is based on this premise:

2. The universe began to exist.  (HCA, p.58)

This contrasts with the opposite possibility:

It is NOT the case that the universe began to exist.

Given that the universe does exist now, this opposite possibility can be narrowed to this claim:

The universe has existed forever.

There are also different possibilities concerning the END of the universe:

The universe will come to an end.

OR:

The universe will continue to exist forever.

These various possibilities could occur in four different combinations, which can be summarized in a truth table (click on the image below for a clearer view of the chart):
UB = The universe began to exist.
UE = The universe will come to an end.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
LOGICAL POSSIBILITIES CONCERNING TIME
The Kalam Cosmological Argument takes seriously the following claim:

Time began to exist.

This claim contrasts with the opposite view:

It is NOT the case that time began to exist.

Since time clearly exists now, we can narrow this opposite view to this claim:

Time has existed forever.

If time can begin to exist, then there is no obvious reason why time could not cease to exist as well:

Time will come to an end.

And we must acknowledge the opposite and more common view:

Time will continue to exist forever.

So, the logical possibilities concerning time appear to parallel the logical possibilities concerning the universe (click on the image below for a clearer view of the chart):
TB = Time began to exist.
TE = Time will come to an end.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
LOGICAL POSSIBILITIES CONCERNING TIME AND THE UNIVERSE
In theory, we can combine the four different possibilities about time with the four different possibilities about the universe, and that will result in sixteen different possible combinations of those possibilities.  Many of these combinations, however, don’t make any sense; they are incoherent because they involve a logical contradiction.
But first we need to have the baseline of sixteen possible combinations, and next we can eliminate the ones that imply a contradiction (click on the image below for a clearer view of the chart):

 https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Time-and-Universe-Possibilities.jpg
 
IF TIME HAD NO BEGINNING AND HAS NO END
The last four combinations in the above chart are concerned with possibilities where time has existed forever and will continue to exist forever.  In those scenarios, all four possibilities concerning the universe would be logically compatible with the character of time, so there are no incoherent scenarios among the last four combinations.  Specifically the combinations XIII, XIV, XV, and XVI are all logically possible scenarios.
 
IF TIME HAD A BEGINNING AND ALSO HAS AN END 
The first four combinations in the above chart are concerned with possibilities where time began to exist and will also come to an end. All but one of these combinations is incoherent, meaning all but one contains a logical contradiction. Take combination III for example.  In that combination, the universe has existed forever, but time began to exist.  This combination logically implies the following claim:
The universe was in existence one billion years before time began to exist.
This implication is clearly incoherent, because it is logically impossible for one billion years to elapse while time does not exist.  In order for just one year, or even one second, to elapse, time must exist.  Thus, combination III logically implies a statement that is clearly incoherent, so combination III is itself an incoherent statement: combination III is a logically impossible state of affairs.
A similar line of reasoning can be used to show that combinations II and IV are also incoherent and logically impossible.  Of the first four combinations in the above chart, only combination I is logically possible.  There is no contradiction in the idea that both time and the universe began to exist and that both time and the universe will come to an end.  So, of the first four combinations, the following are logically impossible scenarios: II, III, and IV.
 
IF TIME HAD A BEGINNING BUT HAS NO END
The second set of four combinations are concerned with the possibilities where time begins but will never end.  Two of these combinations are logically possible, and two of these combinations are incoherent and thus logically impossible.  The problem comes in with combinations where the universe has no beginning, since in all of these four combinations time has a beginning.
This is like the problem with combination III, discussed above.  If the universe has existed forever, but time had a beginning, then that logically implies this statement:
The universe was in existence one billion years before time began to exist.
But this statement is incoherent, so any combination that logically implies this statement is also incoherent and logically impossible.  Thus, combinations VII and VIII are logically impossible scenarios.  The other two combinations (V and VI) are logically possible.
 
IF TIME HAD NO BEGINNING BUT HAS AN END
The third set of four combinations all concern scenarios where time has existed forever but will one day come to an end.  As with the previous set of four combinations, two of these combinations are logically possible, and two of them are incoherent and thus logically impossible.  The problem comes in with combinations where the universe has no end.  If time comes to an end but the universe continues to exist forever, then this logically implies the following statement:
The universe will still exist one billion years after time comes to an end.
But this statement is clearly incoherent.  It is logically impossible for just one year, or even one second, to elapse when time no longer exists.  In order for a year to pass, time must exist.  So, any combination that logically implies the above statement is incoherent and is logically impossible.  Combinations X and XII logically imply the above statement, so those combinations are logically impossible. The other two combinations (IX and XI) don’t have this problem and they are logically possible scenarios.
 
CONCLUSIONS
Seven out of the sixteen combinations are logically impossible:  II, III, IV, VII, VIII, X, and XII.
Nine out of the sixteen combinations are logically possible:  I, V, VI, IX, XI, XIII, XIV, XV, and XVI.
==================
CORRECTION (6/29/18):
==================
The seven combinations that I claimed to be logically impossible can be SHOWN to be logically impossible, as I have indicated.
However, I have NOT shown the nine other combinations to be logically possible.  I have only shown that those combinations don’t have the same sort of logical contradiction that is found in the seven logically impossible combinations.
As far as I can tell, there is no logical contradiction in the nine combinations between the characterization of time and the characterization of the universe (in each combination).  However, there could be a logical contradiction internal to either the characterization of time or to the characterization of the universe in some of those nine combinations.
In fact, the philosophical arguments in the Kalam Cosmological Argument for the claim that the universe began to exist assert that NOTHING can have existed forever; not time, not the universe, and not even God.  Those philosophical arguments assert that there is a logical contradiction involved in the statement that the universe has existed forever, as well as in the statement that time has existed forever. 
A defender of the Kalam Cosmological Argument would say that combinations IX, XI, XIII, XIV, XV, and XVI are incoherent, and thus are logically impossible combinations, because they assert either that time has existed forever or that the universe has existed forever.

bookmark_borderLetter to Peter Kreeft

Dear Dr. Peter Kreeft,
I have recently been studying your Argument #7, the Argument from Contingency:
http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm#7
In the second premise, you provide a definition of “the universe”:

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

Although I appreciate the attempt to clarify the meaning of this phrase, the definition itself seems unclear to me, and I am hoping that you can provide some clarification of the definition, so that I will understand what you mean by the phrase “the universe”.
First, it seems to me that there needs to be a reference here to time. Your example of something that needs a cause of existence is that of a person, and in that example you focus in on the cause of a person’s existence right now:
…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.
This suggests that premise (2) is also talking about the existence of “the universe” right now. I take it that it is an important feature of the Argument from Contingency that it does NOT deny the possibility of an infinite regress of cause-and-effect backwards in time. It leaves open this possibility, but instead denies an infinite regress of current causes of existence.
In commenting on this argument, you confirm my interpretation that this argument is based upon the premise that “the universe” exists right now:
But the proofs have given us some real knowledge as well: knowledge that the universe is created; knowledge that right now it is kept in being by a cause unbounded by any material limit, that transcends the kind of being we humans directly know.
Although you are talking about multiple “proofs”, it seems clear to me that it is the Argument from Contingency, among the first six proofs, that has the potential to provide “knowledge that right now it [the universe] is kept in being by a cause unbounded by any material limit…”.
So, I take it that premise (2) should be understood as referring to a particular moment of time:

2a. The universe—the collection of beings in space and time—exists right now.

But when we specify a particular moment of time, the definitional phrase “the collection of beings in space and time” becomes ambiguous between two different meanings:

2b. The universe—the collection of every being that has ever existed in space and time—exists right now.

2c. The universe—the collection of currently existing beings in space and time—exists right now.

This ambiguity in the second premise of the Argument from Contingency appears to constitute a fallacy of equivocation, because on the first interpretation (2b) the premise is clearly false, but on the second interpretation (2c), the definition of “the universe” is clearly mistaken or misleading, which results in a problem later in the argument:

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

If the expression “the universe” is talking ONLY about things or beings that currently exist, then the inference that what it takes for “the universe” to exist “cannot exist within the universe” ONLY implies that what it takes for “the universe” to exist cannot be one of the things that exists in space and time RIGHT NOW.  But there have been many physical objects (“beings in space and time”) that have existed in space and time in the past that no longer exist RIGHT NOW. Those objects are not within “the universe” as this expression is defined in premise (2c), but they were, nevertheless, “beings in space and time”.
So, my question is this:
Does the expression “the universe” in this argument mean, “the collection of every being that has ever existed in space and time” or does it mean, “the collection of currently existing beings in space and time”?
Or is there some other interpretation of the expression “the universe” that you would propose?
Sincerely,
Bradley Bowen
=============================
RESPONSE FROM PETER KREEFT  (06/25/18):
=============================
BB:
Although that chapter and this proof was largely the work of Fr. Tacelli, I will answer your question about it.  Obviously, 2c rather than 2b is what “the universe” means in this argument.  So the argument as it stands does not exclude infinite temporal regress into the past.  That possibility has been refuted, not by this argument, but by Big Bang cosmology.  And (here is the tricky part) if time is relative to matter and if all matter had a beginning, then so did time.  Thus there is only finite regress in time.  I do not think this radically changes the essential argument, though.  But it at least apparently requires the cause of the universe to be not a being in time, since the part cannot cause the whole.  Thus the God proved by the combination of Aquinas’ contingency argument and modern Big Bang cosmology is a being that is not determined by or part of matter, or time, or space.  And this applies even if our universe is only one of many in a “multiverse,” since the same logic must apply to whatever whole this universe might be a part of, even if that whole does not necessarily have the same kind of matter, time, or space as our universe does.  And Christianity suggests such a possibility in positing a universe of pure spirits, or angels, who are not in chronological time but spiritual time.  They too need a cause for their existence, however their “time” relates to their existence.
PK
============================
REPLY TO PETER KREEFT (6/25/18):
=============================
Dear Dr. Kreeft,
Thank you for taking the time to answer my question about the definition of “the universe” in the second premise of the Argument from Contingency.   That eliminates one ambiguity in the definition, which in my view reduces the number of possible interpretations of that phrase from sixteen down to just eight.
There is another ambiguity in the definition of “the universe” that I am hoping you can help me to eliminate; the phrase “in space and time” has at least two different meanings.
In theory, there are four different kinds of things or beings:

I. In space and in time

II. In space but not in time

III. Not in space but in time

IV. Not in space and not in time

 The phrase “in space and time” could be interpreted in two different ways:

  1. BOTH in space AND in time
  2. EITHER in space OR in time  [inclusive “or”]

 
When “the universe” is defined in the Argument from Contingency as “the collection of beings in space and time”, does the phrase “in space and time” have meaning #1 or meaning #2?
Sincerely,
Bradley Bowen
==========================
RESPONSE FROM PETER KREEFT (6/26/18):
=========================
BB:
Good point, since acts of thinking and willing are in time but not in space, though for us they are dependent on things in space, material things like brains and nervous systems.  In one sense these acts are not part of the universe, or nature, but are supernatural.  In another sense, they are.  Angels make up still another class: created, finite spirits, not the Creator, but not in or dependent on matter or space or the time (kronos) that is relative to matter and space, but only in another kind of time, spiritual time (kronos).  Thus we have a complex hierarchy:  (1) God, (2) angels, (3) human spiritual souls that are dependent on matter, and (4) matter, which itself is hierarchical (animals, plants, minerals).  The contingency argument is about (1) vs. everything else, not about the divisions of “everything else,” so it works best on a metaphysical level of act and potency rather than on a cosmological level of matter and mind.
PK
============================
REPLY TO PETER KREEFT (6/28/18):
=============================
Dear Dr. Kreeft,
Thank you for again taking the time to respond to my question about the definition of “the universe” found in the Argument from Contingency.
You appear to agree that something can be “in time but not space”, so you see the ambiguity in the phrase “in space and time”.
But I’m still not clear which of the two meanings of this phrase was intended (or which is the best interpretation):

  1. BOTH in space AND in time
  2. EITHER in space OR in time  [inclusive “or”]

How do you interpret the phrase “in space and time” in this context?
Sincerely,
Bradley Bowen
=====================
RESPONSE FROM PETER KREEFT (6/29/18):
=====================
BB:
If “the universe” means the material universe, then 1.  If it means all of creation, including angels, it means 2.
PK
============================
REPLY TO PETER KREEFT (6/30/18):
=============================
Dear Dr. Kreeft,
You have graciously answered two of my questions about the definition of the phrase “the universe” found in premise (2) of the Argument from Contingency.  I have saved what might well be the most challenging question about the definition for last:
What does “beings” mean?
The definition of “the universe” that is given in premise (2) is as follows:
…the collection of beings in space and time…
 The general principle stated in premise (1) of the Argument from Contingency applies to whatever can be said to be “something” that exists.  So, in order for that principle to apply to a “part of the universe”, the part of the universe must be “something”  that exists.  This raises questions about the relationship between the concept “X is something” and “X is a  being”:

  • If X is something, then X is a being.  (True or False?)
  • If X is a being, then X is something.  (True or False?)

My intuition is that time is something, but that time is NOT a being.
My intuition is that space is something, but that space is NOT a being.
My intuition is that a law of physics is something, but that a law of physics is NOT a being.
These are, however, my linguistic intuitions, and what is important here is not what is the “correct” use of these words, but rather what is the intended meaning of these words in this particular context.
The context appears to be, in part, Thomistic philosophy, and you are more familiar with Thomistic philosophy than I am, so you might have a very clear and specific understanding of the words “something” and “being” in the context of the Argument from Contingency.
Thank you again for your help clarifying the meaning of the definition of “the universe” in this interesting argument.
Sincerely,
Bradley Bowen
=====================
RESPONSE FROM PETER KREEFT (7/1/18):
=====================
BB:
Aristotle gave the best and most commonsensical answer to your question.
PK
 

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for God – Part 21: Bait and Switch?

WHERE WE ARE AT
In Part 1 through Part 8, I argued that the last ten of Peter Kreefts twenty arguments for God in Chapter 3 of his book Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA) are all bad arguments and fail to provide us with any good reason to believe that God exists.
In Part 9 through Part 20,  I examined the first five arguments in Kreeft’s case for God, arguments which he appears to think are the best and strongest arguments in his case. The first five arguments are Kreeft’s versions of Aquinas’s Five Ways.  These arguments also all fail, and they provide us with no good reason to believe that God exists.
One important theme in my criticism of Kreeft’s arguments for God is that nearly all of them are NOT actually arguments for the existence of God!  Thus, Chapter 3  of HCA appears to be one big BAIT-and-SWITCH maneuver.  The title of that chapter is “Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God” but there is hardly a single argument for the existence of God in this chapter.  In this current post,  I will spell out this key objection once again.  In the next post after this one, I will consider how Kreeft or a defender of Kreeft would be likely to respond to this Bait-and-Switch criticism.
 
THE CONCLUSIONS OF KREEFT’S FIRST TEN ARGUMENTS
A philosophical argument for the existence of God, ought to end with one of the following conclusions:

  • God exists.
  • There is a God.

So, one BIG CLUE that Kreeft’s case for God is seriously defective is that in the first ten arguments, which he appears to think are his best and strongest arguments, he almost never explicitly states the conclusion of an argument to be “God exists” or “There is a God”.
There is only ONE argument in the first ten arguments that has the proper conclusion.  Argument #9, the Argument from Miracles, has a proper conclusion:

4. Therefore God exists.  (HCA, p.64)

The conclusions of the other nine arguments fall short of making this claim:
Argument #1:
Therefore, there is some force outside (in addition to) the universe, some real being transcendent to the universe. (HCA, p.50)
Argument #2:
So there must be something uncaused, something on which all things that need an efficient cause of being are dependent. (HCA, p.51)
Argument #3:
…there must ultimately exist a being whose necessity is not derived, that is, an absolutely necessary being.  (HCA, p.53)
Argument #4:
…there must exist…a source and real standard of all the perfections that we recognize belong to us as beings.  (HCA, p.55)
Argument #5:
Therefore, the universe is the product of an intelligent Designer.  (HCA, p.56)
Argument #6:
Therefore, the universe has a cause for its coming into being. (HCA, p.58)
Argument #7:
Therefore, what it takes for the universe to exist must transcend both space and time. (HCA, p.61)
Argument #8:
Thus… [there exists] a Transcendent Creative Mind. (HCA, p.64)
Argument #10:
Therefore this intelligible universe and the finite minds so well suited to grasp it are the products of intelligence.  (HCA, p.66)
So, 90% of Kreeft’s best and strongest arguments “for the existence of God” fail to end with the conclusion “God exists” or “There is a God”, and those nine out of ten arguments all FAIL to be arguments “for the existence of God”; rather, they argue for the existence of a being that has one or two characteristics that are characteristics that are also (supposedly) possessed by God.
In some cases, Kreeft attempts to bridge the logical gap between the conclusion that he actually argues for, and the desired conclusion:
Argument #1:
This is one of the things meant by ‘God’. (HCA, p.50)
Argument #2:
Therefore, there must exist a God: an Uncaused Being who does not have to receive existence like us… (HCA, p.51)
Argument #3:
This absolutely necessary being is God.  (HCA, p.53)
Argument #4:
This absolutely perfect being…is God.  (HCA, p.55)
These additional claims are Kreeft’s attempts to provide a logical connection between the stated conclusions of those arguments and the desired conclusion that “God exists.”
However, Kreeft does NOT argue for or defend any of these key premises, and thus he BEGS THE QUESTION by assuming the truth of the most important and most controversial premises of those arguments.  Thus, even in the cases where Kreeft provides a premise that links the stated conclusion of an argument to the conclusion that “God exists”, he still FAILS to show that “God exists”, because he does not provide any good reason for us to believe those crucial and controversial premises.
Since the title of Chapter 3 is “Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God” we could simply INFER that the conclusion of every one of the twenty arguments is that “God exists.”   This would require adding missing premises to many of his arguments.  For example, Argument #5 has this stated conclusion:
Therefore, the universe is the product of an intelligent Designer.  (HCA, p.56)
We could add a further premise to turn this argument into an argument for God:

A. IF the universe is the product of an intelligent Designer, THEN God exists.

However, this additional premise is clearly FALSE.  We can imagine an evil designer or a designer who had no sense of right and wrong, and if the universe is the product of either an evil designer or an amoral designer, then that would imply that God does NOT exist, because God, by definition, is a perfectly morally good person who designed the universe.  So, if an evil person designed the universe, then the universe was NOT designed by a perfectly morally good person, and thus God does NOT exist.  Therefore, premise (A) is FALSE.  It is possible for the antecedent of (A) to be true while the consequent is false.
Kreeft might, with some justification, complain that we have saddled his argument with an obviously false premise.  But it is not our responsibility to try to construct a solid argument for God out of a crappy argument presented by Kreeft.  Kreeft is a professional philosopher who has taken on the responsibility to present solid arguments for God, and when he provides half-ass arguments that are logically incomplete, arguments that do not explicitly conclude that “God exists”, it is fair to simply point out that his arguments, as presented, FAIL to show the conclusion that they are supposed to show.  It is fair to simply point out that his arguments either BEG THE QUESTION by assuming the truth of controversial premises, or else that they are NOT actually arguments for the existence of God.
 
THE FIVE WAYS ARE NOT ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
One reason why Kreeft presents so many half-ass arguments “for the existence of God” is that he misunderstands the Five Ways of Aquinas, which Kreeft takes to be the strongest and best arguments in his case for God.  The Five Ways of Aquinas are NOT arguments for the existence of God, and so Kreeft starts out with a very fundamental false assumption, which leads him astray.
God, as conceived of in the Christian faith, has many divine attributes.  Although it would be unreasonable to expect a Christian to prove the existence of a being that has ALL of the divine attributes that Christians have traditionally believed God to possess, there are a few divine attributes that are essential to a traditional Christian concept of God:

  • God is an eternally bodiless person (a spirit).
  • God is an eternally omnipotent (all-powerful) person.
  • God is an eternally omniscient (all-knowing) person.
  • God is an eternally perfectly morally good person.
  • God is the creator of the universe.

It is difficult to prove the existence of a being that has just ONE of these divine attributes, but it is much more difficult to prove that there is a being that has ALL FIVE of these divine attributes.  To prove that “God exists”, one must prove that there is a being that has ALL FIVE of these divine attributes, and there is not one single argument in Kreeft’s collection of twenty arguments that makes a serious attempt to do that.
The Five Ways of Aquinas are NOT arguments for the existence of God, because none of the five arguments presented by Aquinas even attempts to show that there is a being who possesses ALL FIVE of the above divine attributes.  However, after presenting the Five Ways in about two pages, Aquinas goes on for over one hundred more pages, in order to establish the existence of a being who has MANY of the divine attributes (or attributes that Aquinas believed to be important attributes of God).  Kreeft misunderstands the purpose of the Five Ways.  These arguments are NOT arguments for the existence of God, they are simply the opening moves of a lengthy and complex case for the existence of God, a case that includes dozens of arguments and that stretches over one hundred pages in Summa Theologica.
In fact MOST of Aquinas’s case for the existence of God is concerned with establishing that there is ONE being who possesses MANY different divine attributes beyond the attributes explicitly discussed in the Five Ways arguments.  One can compare, for example, Peter Kreeft’s version of the Argument from Change with Edward Feser’s presentation of that argument (which includes the rest of the logic from Aquinas found in the one hundred or so pages following the Five Ways passage) to see how badly Kreeft has distorted and misunderstood the reasoning of Aquinas.
In Part 10 I analyze Kreeft’s version of the Argument from Change.  There are eight explicit claims, and five unstated premises. The conclusion of this argument in my interpretation is as follows:

8a. There is exactly one being outside the material universe and that being is the unchanging Source of change.

In Feser’s presentation of the Argument from Change, something close to this conclusion is reached by premise 14:

14. So, there is a purely actual actualizer.  (Five Proofs of the Existence of God, location 494)

Feser is using more technical concepts than Kreeft, but a “purely actual actualizer” is basically the same thing as an “unchanging Source of change” in Kreeft’s simpler terminology.  Although Kreeft’s argument ends with statement (8a),  Feser’s Argument from Change has only just gotten started; it goes on until he arrives at statement number 50:

50. So, God exists.  (Five Proofs of the Existence of God, location 494)

In other words, less than 30%  of Feser’s Argument from Change is concerned with showing the existence of an unchanging source of change, and more than 70% of Feser’s Argument from Change is concerned with establishing that such a being possesses several other divine attributes.  But 100% of Kreeft’s Argument from Change is concerned with showing the existence of an unchanging source of change, and 0% of Kreeft’s Argument from Change is concerned with showing that such a being possesses several other divine attributes.
Feser’s version of this argument contains reasoning that is found in the one hundred or so pages of arguments that Aquinas presents AFTER the Five Ways passage.  Feser’s version of this argument is ACTUALLY an argument for the existence of God.  Kreeft’s version is NOT an argument for the existence of God, it is an argument for the existence of an unchanging source of change.  That is why there are only eight explicitly stated claims in Kreeft’s argument, but there are FIFTY explicitly stated claims in Feser’s version of this argument.  Kreeft simply leaves out most of Aquinas’s reasoning.  Kreeft ends the argument when Aquinas is just getting started.  Kreeft misunderstands and distorts the reasoning of Aquinas, mistakenly thinking that the Five Ways are five arguments for the existence of God, when they are merely the opening moves in a very long and complicated proof of the existence of God.
Robert Pasnau and Christopher Shields are two philosophers who co-authored a book called The Philosophy of Aquinas (hereafter: POA).  In Chapter 4 of POA, they provide a summary of the Argument from Change.  That summary strictly covers the reasoning from the Five Ways passage, and it includes just nine statements.  But the ninth statement does NOT assert that “God exists”:

9. Therefore, there exists an unmoved mover. (POA, p.86)

This is basically the same as the conclusion of Kreeft’s Argument from Change, and basically the same as statement (14) in Feser’s version of the Argument from Change.   However, later in the same chapter, Pasnau and Shields present “Phase Two” of the argument (POA, p.97-99), which begins with the previously arrived at conclusion that there exists “an unmoved mover”. They proceed to outline the reasoning of Aquinas in a series of FIFTY-ONE claims that attempt to show that the unmoved mover has several divine attributes.
So, in this summary of the reasoning of Aquinas, nine out of fifty-eight premises are concerned with showing the existence of an unmoved mover, while forty-nine premises are concerned with showing that an unmoved mover has several divine attributes.  In other words, only about 16% of this summary of Aquinas’s reasoning is concerned with showing that an unmoved mover exists, while about 84% of this reasoning is concerned with showing that an unmoved mover has several divine attributes.
The analysis of Aquinas’s reasoning about God by Pasnau and Shields confirms Feser’s analysis and understanding of Aquinas’s reasoning about God.  Namely,  the little bit of reasoning in the Five Ways passage about the existence of an unmoved mover is merely the opening moves of a long and complicated proof of the existence of God that spans over one hundred pages in Summa Theologica.  
Kreeft mistakenly believes that the very short Argument from Change found in the Five Ways passage represents an argument for the existence of God.  This is a gross misunderstanding of Aquinas.  Aquinas knew that he had a great deal more work to do in order to prove the existence of God.  Kreeft’s misunderstanding of Aquinas, his gross distortion and oversimplification of the reasoning of Aquinas, leads Kreeft to wrongly believe that he can present “Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God” in just thirty-seven pages, devoting less than two pages (on average) to each argument.
If Kreeft had presented just ONE actual argument for the existence of God, such as Aquinas’s Argument from Change (including the reasoning supporting several divine attributes)he would have found that even a very compressed summary of such an argument, without any explanation or justification, would require several pages, and that explaining and defending ONE actual argument for the existence of God would require most, if not all, of the thirty-six pages he used to present his twenty pathetic arguments.