bookmark_borderGeisler’s Five Ways – Part 15: Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Perfectly Good?

Dr. Norman Geisler uses cosmological arguments to show that God is very powerful, and a teleological argument to show that God is very intelligent, and a moral argument to show that God is good (When Skeptics Ask [hereafter: WSA], p.26-27).  But in Phase 4 of his case, he has not yet attempted to show that God exists.  At best he has attempted to show that there is exactly one being that caused the universe to begin to exist, and that this being is very powerful, very intelligent, and is morally good.  Geisler has failed miserably at this attempt, but that is what he was actually trying to establish, so far.
A final step in Phase 4 is his attempt to show that the being that caused the universe is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly morally good:
Because of his necessity, He can only have whatever He has in a necessary way.  That means, as we have seen, without beginning,  without change, and without limitation.  So while the argument from Creation tells us that He has power, the argument from being shows us that it is perfect, unlimited power.  The argument from design tells us that He is intelligent, but His necessity informs us that His knowledge is uncreated, unchanging, and infinite.  The moral order suggests that He is good, but the perfection of His being means that He must be all good in a perfect and unlimited way.  (WSA, p.28)
In the previous post I criticized Argument 3 of Phase 4, which included an inference to the conclusion that the being that caused the universe to begin to exist had no limitations.  That argument failed (in part) because it was based on a fallacy of equivocation on the phrase “to not be” (among other problems).  In this post I will consider a second argument that Geisler makes for a similar conclusion:
Argument 4 of Phase 4

90. The being that caused the universe to begin to exist is a necessary being.

91. If a being B is a necessary being, then all of the attributes being B has are had by B in a necessary way.

92. If all of the attributes being B has are had by B in a necessary way, then all of the attributes being B has are had by B without any limitation.

THEREFORE:

93. All of the attributes that the being that caused the universe to begin to exist has, are attributes that the being that caused the universe to begin to exist has without any limitation.

94.  The being that caused the universe to begin to exist has the attributes of power, knowledge, and moral goodness.

THEREFORE:

95. The being that caused the universe to begin to exist has unlimited power, unlimited knowledge, and unlimited moral goodness.

96.  If a being B has unlimited power, unlimited knowledge, and unlimited moral goodness, then being B is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly morally good.

THEREFORE:

97. The being that caused the universe to begin to exist is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly morally good.

One standard objection to traditional arguments for the existence of God is that, at best, they only show the existence of a being with finite power, finite knowledge, and limited moral goodness.  The above argument is Geisler’s attempt to get around that standard objection.  His attempt, like every other argument in this case, fails.
First of all, premise (90) is doubly dubious, because (a) Geisler failed to show that there was exactly one being that caused the universe to begin to exist, and (b) Geisler also failed to show that the being that caused the universe to exist (if there were such a being) was a necessary being.  The “Argument from Being” that Geisler presents is based on an analysis of the concept of “God”, but Geisler has not shown anything about God or the existence of God yet; he has only attempted to show the existence of a being that caused the universe to begin to exist, and he failed even at that lesser task.  Because Geisler is still working his way towards showing that God exists, he cannot make use of his “Argument from Being” to support the claim that the being who caused the universe to begin to exist is a necessary being.  Therefore, premise (90) is doubly dubious, and provides a very shaky foundation for Argument 4 of Phase 4.
Premise (91) is also very dubious, for more than one reason.  First of all, this premise is NOT self-evidently true, so Geisler needs to provide reasons or evidence in support of (91), but he provides no such support for this premise.  Second, the notion of having an attribute “in a necessary way” is vague and unclear, so Geisler needs to provide a definition or clarification of what this phrase means, but he provides no definition or clarification of this phrase.  One cannot evaluate the truth of (91) unless and until the phrase “in a necessary way” is defined or clarified.
Third, if we interpret the notion of having an attribute “in a necessary way” as meaning that it is a necessary truth that the being in question has that attribute, then this leads to an apparent contradicition with Christian theology.   God, according to Christian theology, did NOT have to create the universe; God freely chose to create the universe, and was not compelled or necessitated to do so.  But one of God’s attributes is being the creator of the universe.  If God is a necessary being, as Geisler asserts, and thus each of God’s attributes corresponds to a necessary truth, then it is a necessary truth that “God created the universe” (or “If God exists, then God created the universe”).  But if this is a necessary truth, then it is logically impossible for God to NOT have created the universe, and thus God did NOT freely choose to create the universe, but was compelled to do so out of logical necessity.  Therefore, premise (91) contradicts a basic claim of Christian theology.
There are good reasons to believe that premise (92) is false, if we assume that (91) is true.  First, the number three is a necessary being, since it cannot not exist.  But the quantity represented by the number three is clearly limited; that is what makes it the number three, as opposed to the number four, or the number five thousand.  The number three is less than the number four, and it is this very limitation that constitutes the nature of the number three.  Thus, a necessary being can have a limitation.
Second, God is the creator of the universe and a necessary being, according to Geisler and according to Christian theology, but the universe is finite both in duration and in size.  If God’s power and knowledge are unlimited, then God could have created an infinite universe, but God, if God exists, created a finite universe.  So, even if God had the potential to create an infinite universe, it appears that he did not actualize that potential.  God’s attribute of being a “creator of stars, planets, and galaxies” is a limited attribute, not an infinite and unlimited attribute.   But in that case, premise (92) would be false, assuming premise (91) was true, because at least one attribute of a necessary being is limited and finite.
The conclusion (93) follows validly from the premises (90), (91), and (92), assuming that there are no equivocations, such as with the unclear phrase “in a necessary way”.  However, each of the three premises is dubious, so this argument for (93) fails.
Premise (94) is a question begging assumption, because Geisler has only attempted to show that the cause of the universe is powerful, the designer of the universe has knowledge, and the lawmaker of moral laws is morally good.  He has made no attempt to show that these three beings (if they exist) are one and the same being.   Geisler also failed to show that there was just one cause of the universe, just one designer of the universe, and just one moral lawmaker.  So, this premise is doubly dubious.  Geisler failed to show that there was just one of each of these types of beings, and Geisler failed to show that these three beings (or types of being) are all one and the same being.  Therefore, Geisler hasn’t even come close to showing that the cause of the universe is powerful AND knowledgable AND morally good.
Since both premise (93) and (94) are dubious, the argument for (95) fails.
Premise (96) appears to be true, but since Geisler failed to provide a solid argument for premise (95), his argument for (97) also fails, just like every other argument in his unbelievably crappy case for God.

bookmark_borderIntelligent Design: Get ready for another round

President Trump’s choice for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is very likely a supporter of teaching Intelligent Design (ID) in public schools. Her husband, Dick DeVos, ran for Governor of Michigan in 2006 and explicitly stated his support for ID ( http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/09/21/devos-and-intelligent-design/ ). It is not unlikely, then, that ID proponents will be emboldened to make a fresh push to include it in school science curricula.
A key strategic claim for ID proponents is that ID is not merely a repackaging of creationism.
“The theory of intelligent design is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the “apparent design” in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations. “ (http://www.intelligentdesign.org/whatisid.php)
The unstated details of ID tell another story, however. Here is why:
Consider one of the favorite examples of ID proponents – the bacterial flagellum. Some bacteria have a little whip-like tail that allows them to propel themselves forward like a little motor. Distilled to its essential core, the ID claim is that it is massively improbable that such a structure could have come about by purely natural means. But it is at least less improbable that it should have come about by supernatural means (intelligent agency). The claim is usually made using the term “design.” But this avoids the question of how, exactly, the design is implemented. That is, if the bacterial flagellum begins as a design in the mind of an intelligent designer, how does the designer get the flagella into the world?
Since ID rejects the claim that there is any natural pathway from flagella-less to flagella-ed bacteria, there are only a few apparent options. The designer could simply create flagella-ed bacteria were before there were only flagella-less bacteria. Or, the designer could start with a population of flagella-less bacteria and then create, by supernatural intervention, flagella for them (“let these bacteria become flagella-ed!”) and simultaneously modify their DNA so that their descendants would also be flagella-ed. Or, the designer could start with a population of flagella-less bacteria and only modify their DNA so that their descendants would be flagella-ed. Each these options postulates a miraculous intervention. (I suppose that the second and third options might not fit a narrow enough definition of creationism, but positing miraculous intervention is close enough.)
We could design experimental protocols that would test for each of these options. For the first, we could set up some sterile pertinent dishes devoid of any bacteria and periodically check to see whether any flagella-ed bacteria had appeared in them. Preferably, we would hope for a previously unknown strain. This should not be too unreasonable an expectation on the ID view, since according to ID, history contains many many instances – perhaps millions – of complex structures appearing in the world as a result of intelligent intervention. Why think the designer has permanently rested and no longer implements intelligently designed organisms? True, there is the religious doctrine that God is the designer and rested after the 6th day, where perhaps “resting” could be interpreted as being permanently finished, but this would be scientifically ad hoc, and ID is supposed to be a scientific (not religious) hypothesis that doesn’t invoke religious doctrines.
Or, we could stock some petri dishes with flagella-less bacteria and watch them carefully to see whether they become spontaneously modified to have flagella or suddenly produce offspring with flagella. Oddly enough, this is actually how many people commonly understand (or rather misunderstand) the naturalistic story to go, when in fact the naturalistic story involves much more gradual changes over very long spans of time. But if such a thing were observed, we would have to choose which of several competing hypotheses was the most reasonable: (1) An extremely unlikely natural event happened, or (2) spontaneous mutations resulting in complex structures are far more likely than we had previously thought, or (3) intelligent agency (design) is responsible.
We are also supposed to impose probability estimates in isolation from what would surely be relevant teleological questions in the case of intelligent agency. So, for example, we are supposed to consider the relative probabilities that an intelligent designer is responsible for the complexity of bacterium B without also considering the probability that an intelligent designer (who may or may not be God) would be responsible for the fact that B causes extremely unpleasant death for many of those who end up being infected by it. So if one were to take the view that intelligence and morality are correlated (a position I am not arguing for but which does have a rich historical pedigree), then instances of moral neutral or morally negative complexity would seem to count more strongly in favor of a naturalist explanation than an ID explanation. To those who say, “I don’t know who or what the designer is, but whatever it is must be intelligent” it seems fair to reply “I don’t know who or what the designer is, but whatever it is must be morally disinterested in what this complex bacterium actually does when let loose in the world.”
Of course, the strongest pushback of all against the ID strategy is to provide empirical evidence showing that (and how) the highlighted instances of complexity very plausibly can be built up stepwise by naturalistic evolutionary processes. The more often scientists can respond to the examples trotted out by ID proponents and say, “Sure this could come about naturally. Here’s how…” the weaker the ID case becomes.

bookmark_borderGeisler’s Five Ways – Part 11: The Structure of Geisler’s Case

I’m going to take a step back in this post and look at the overall structure of Geisler’s case for the existence of God, a presented in When Skeptics Ask (hereafter: WSA).
PHASE 1: GEISLER’s FIVE WAYS
On pages 15 through 26, Geisler presents five arguments for five conclusions.  I call this Phase  1 of this case.  Here are the five conclusions of the five initial arguments:

  • Something other than the universe caused the universe to begin to exist.
  • Something is a first uncaused cause of the present existence of the universe.
  • There is a Great Designer of the universe.
  • There is a supreme moral Lawgiver.
  • If God exists, then God exists and God is a necessary being.

Note that the word “God” is being misused by Geisler in the statement of the fifth conclusion.  The purpose of his case is to prove that “God exists”, so a premise that begins, “If God exists, then…” is of no use in his case.
As with many of the arguments that I have examined in Geisler’s case, he is using the word “God” in an idiosyncratic sense, which he does not bother to clarify or define.  So, we have to examine the context of each such claim in his case to figure out what the hell he means each time he misuses the word “God”.  (This is part of why I say that this case is a steaming pile of dog shit; Geisler does not bother to clarify or define the meaning of the most important word in his argument.)
PHASE 2: THE CREATOR’S PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES
On pages 26 and 27,  Geisler presents Phase 2 of his case.  He argues for three claims related to personal attributes of “God”:

  • God is very powerful.
  • God is very intelligent.
  • God is [morally] good.

Once again, Geisler misuses the word “God” here.  But he gives us a good clue as to what he means by “God” in his Phase 2 arguments:
The argument from design shows us that whatever caused the universe not only had great power, but also great intelligence.  (WSA, p.26, emphasis added)
Geisler had argued in the previous paragraph that based on his two cosmological arguments “God” had great power.  Then Geisler uses his argument from design to try to show that “God” had great intelligence.  The above quoted statement implies that the word “God” is being used in the narrow sense of “whatever caused the universe”.  Roughly speaking, the conclusions that Geisler argues for in Phase 2 are more clearly stated as follows:

  • Whatever caused the universe is very powerful.
  • Whatever caused the universe is very intelligent.
  • Whatever caused the universe is [morally] good.

So, Geisler is arguing that there exists a cause of the universe, and that this cause has various personal attributes that are part of the ordinary meaning of the word “God”.
PHASE 3: THE EXISTENCE OF A NECESSARY BEING
Yet again, Geisler abuses the word “God” in Phase 3 of his case for the existence of God.  The argument in Phase 3 is on page 27.  It makes use of the conclusion from “The Argument from Being” in Phase 1 (pages 24-26). Here is how Geisler states the conclusion of this part of his case:

  • God is a necessary being.

Clearly, he is NOT using the word “God” in its ordinary sense here.  Presumably, he actually means something like this:

  • Whatever caused the universe is a necessary being.

Since I have not yet closely examined the argument in Phase 3, I’m not sure that this is the best interpretation of this key conclusion, so an important part of analyzing and evaluating the argument in Phase 3 will be to figure out what the hell Geisler means by the word “God” when he asserts that “God is a necessary being.”
PHASE 4: THE IMPLICATIONS OF “A NECESSARY BEING”
On pages 27-28, Geisler presents Phase 4 of his case.  There are two different sets of alleged implications that Geisler argues follow from the existence of a necessary being.  First there are implications related to God’s “metaphysical” attributes (as contrasted with God’s personal attributes above):

  • A necessary being is unchanging.
  • A necessary being is infinite.
  • A necessary being is eternal.
  • A necessary being is omnipresent.

Second, there are alleged conditional implications of the concept of a necessary being:

  • If a necessary being is powerful, then it is all-powerful.
  • If a necessary being is intelligent, then it is all-knowing.
  • If a necessary being is [morally] good, then it is perfectly [morally] good.

Geisler then uses the conclusions from Phase 2 and Phase 3 in order to argue for this conclusion:

  • Whatever caused the universe is an unchanging, infinite, eternal, and omnipresent necessary being, that is all-powerful, all-knowing, and pefectly morally good.

PHASE 5: ONLY ONE INFINITE BEING
In a short paragraph on page 28, Geisler argues that there cannot be multiple beings of the sort that he thinks he has shown to exist:

  • There can be only one infinite Being.

PHASE 6: GOD EXISTS
Although Geisler never provides a definition of the word “God”, it is fairly clear that he assumes a meaning of the word “God” that is something like this:
X is God IF AND ONLY IF:

  • X caused the universe to begin to exist, and
  • X causes the universe to continue to exist, and
  • X is the great designer of the universe, and
  • X is the supreme moral lawgiver, and
  • X is a necessary being, and
  • X is the only unchanging, infinite, eternal, and omnipresent being, and
  • X is the only all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly morally good being.

So, the ultimate conclusion of Geisler’s case is this:

  • God exists.

Here, finally, the word “God” is being used in something like it’s ordinary sense.

bookmark_borderGeisler’s Five Ways – Part 8: The Design of the Human Brain

The third argument in Phase 2 of Geisler’s case for God is another development of his argument from design, and it has many of the same problems as the second argument in Phase 2.   
Here is the third argument, sticking closely to the words used by Geisler:
ARGUMENT #3 of PHASE 2  
26. God designed our brains. (WSA, p.26)  
27. IF God designed our brains, THEN God knows everything there is to know about the way we think.  (WSA, p.26)
THUS:  
28. God knows everything there is to know about the way we think.  
29. IF God knows everything there is to know about the way we think, THEN God had great intelligence.  
THEREFORE:  
30. God had great intelligence.  
Once again Geisler misuses the word “God”, making his argument unclear and confusing.  Geisler is trying to make a case for the existence of God, so to assert that “God designed our brains” as a premise in his argument for the existence of God blatantly begs the question at issue.  That is, if Geisler was using the word “God” in it’s normal sense, then premise (26) would clearly commit the fallacy of begging the question.  
But Geisler does NOT believe that he has proven the existence of God (in the nomal sense of the word) at this point in his argument. He does think that his initial argument from design proved the existence of “a Great Designer of the universe”.  So, when Geisler uses the word “God” here, he probably means “the designer of the universe”.  
To avoid confusion, the word “God” needs to be stripped out of this argument and replaced with the phrase “the designer of the universe”:
ARGUMENT #3 of PHASE 2  (Rev.A)  
26a. The designer of the universe designed human brains.   
27a. IF the designer of the universe designed human brains, THEN the designer of the universe knows everything there is to know about the way humans think. 
THUS:  
28a. The designer of the universe knows everything there is to know about the way humans think.  
29a. IF the designer of the universe knows everything there is to know about the way humans think, then the designer of the universe had great intelligence.  
THEREFORE:  
30a. The designer of the universe had great intelligence.  
But Geisler’s conclusion in this part of Phase 2 is that “whatever caused the universe…had…great intelligence.”  (WSA, p.26) So, once again, he needs premise (25), which he also needed in Argument #2 of Phase 2:  
25. Whatever being caused the universe to begin to exist is also the designer of the universe.  
From the combination of (30a) and (25), Geisler can infer his desired conclusion:  
31. The being that caused the universe to begin to exist had great intelligence.  
Because Argument #3 of Phase 2 requires premise (25), this argument FAILS, because premise (25) is questionable, and because Geisler FAILS to provide any reason whatsoever to believe that (25) is true.  Because this argument rests upon (25) it FAILS, just like Argument #2 of Phase 2, which also rested upon (25).
Here is a diagram of Argument #3 of Phase 2 (Rev.A), with the conclusion at the top, and the supporting premises below it: 
Argument 3 of Phase 2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The other main premise of this argument is (30a), but this premise is obviously controversial and needs to be supported with a strong reason or argument.  Accordingly, Geisler provides us with an argument in support of (30a):
28a. The designer of the universe knows everything there is to know about the way humans think.  
29a. IF the designer of the universe knows everything there is to know about the way humans think, THEN the designer of the universe had great intelligence.  
THEREFORE:  
30a. The designer of the universe had great intelligence.  
The inference in this argument is logically valid (a standard modus ponens), so the only question we need to consider is whether both premises are true.  
Is premise (29a) true or false?  This premise is clearly FALSE, because there is a break in the logical connection between the antecedent and the consequent.  The antecedent uses the present tense verb “knows”, while the consequent uses the past tense expression “had great intelligence”.  So, the time-frames don’t match up.  
The fact that Joe knows calculus NOW, after passing the final of his third semester of calculus classes does NOT show that Joe “had a good grasp of calculus” when he was six years old, and just starting elementary school.  People can learn things and grow in knowledge and intelligence over time.  Similarly, even if the designer of the universe has a lot of knowledge NOW, this proves nothing about the knowledge or intelligence of the designer of the universe a thousand years ago, or a million years ago (the human brain has been around at least one million years).  
Geisler screwed up the reference to time frames in this argument, because he is a sloppy and unclear thinker.  The key time-frame that he FAILED to clearly point out and designate is this: when the human brain was being designed.  If there was a being who was “the designer” of the human brain, and if the design for the human brain was developed at some point in time (at least one million years ago), then “the designer” of the human brain must have had the required level of knowledge and intelligence to create such a design at the time when the design for the human brain was being produced.  For all we know, the designer of the human brain might have had less knowledge or intelligence prior to that time, and might have declined in knowledge or intelligence after the design of the human brain was completed.
For premise (29) to have any chance of being true, the time-frame in the antecedent must correspond to the time frame in the consequent:  
29b.  IF the designer of the universe knew (when the human brain was being designed) everything there was to know about the way humans think, THEN the designer of the universe had great intelligence (when the human brain was being designed).  
And for premise (28) to affirm the antecedent of (29b), it must be modified to also refer to the same time frame:  
28b.  The designer of the universe knew (when the human brain was being designed) everything there was to know about the way humans think.  
The conclusion of this modus ponens inference must also be modified to refer to the same time-frame:  
30b. The designer of the universe had great intelligence (when the human brain was being designed).  
What about premise (29b)?  Is it true or false?  Since we have revised the premise so that the time-frame reference in the antecedent matches the time-frame reference in the consequent, I see no reason to doubt or reject (29b).  
So, the question of whether to believe that (30b) is true or false rests upon whether we believe that premise (28b) is true or false.  Premise (28b) is a controversial claim, and it is not obviously true, nor is it a necessary analytic truth.  In fact, as we will see later, there is a very good reason to doubt that (28b) is true.  But Geisler has provided us with an argument for (28b), so we need to examine that argument.  First we need to modify the time-frame reference in the consequent of premise (27), so that the inference to (28b) will be logically valid: 
26a. The designer of the universe designed human brains.   
27b. IF the designer of the universe designed human brains, THEN the designer of the universe knew (when the human brain was being designed) everything there was to know about the way humans think.
THUS:  
28b.  The designer of the universe knew (when the human brain was being designed) everything there was to know about the way humans think.  
Because we have fixed the confusion about time-frames in Geisler’s argument, the inference here is logically valid.  So, we just need to determine whether the premises are true or false.  Is (26a) true or false?  Geisler has FAILED to show that there is such a thing as “the designer of the universe”, so (26a) might literally be talking about nothing at all.  If there is no such being as “the designer of the universe” , then (26a) would be neither true nor false, since the expression “the designer of the universe” has no referent.  
Suppose that there were a being that was “the designer of the universe”, would it be reasonable in that case to believe that this being “designed human brains”?  There are some good reasons to doubt this.  
First, there is good reason to believe that the human brain is the product of random, unthinking forces and processes (i.e. evolution), and thus that even if there were a being that was “the designer of the universe” that being was NOT the designer of the human brain, because the human brain was not the product of ANY intelligent designer.  
Second, the universe has been in existence for billions of years, so the designer of the universe, if there ever were such a being, might well no longer exist, and might well have ceased to exist billions of years ago.  Since the human brain did not exist until about one million years ago, if there was a designer of the human brain, that being might well only be a few million years old, not old enough to be the designer of the universe.  So, even if there was a designer of the universe and a designer of the human brain, they might well have been two different beings who existed in different time-frames, separated by billions of years.  
Third, even if there was a designer of the universe, and even if that being still exists today, it might well still be the case that some OTHER intelligent designer produced the design of the human brain.  Geisler has provided no reason or argument in support of (26a), so given that there are good reasons to doubt (26a), and no good reason to believe (26a) is true, we ought to reject this premise as probably false.  
What about premise (27b)? Is that premise true?  There is a good reason to believe this premise to be false.  If there was a designer of the human brain, then this designer produced the design of the human brain at least one million years ago, because human brains have been around for at least that long.  The structures and functions of the human brain have a very large influence over “the way humans think”, but another significant influence over “the way humans think” is cultural in nature:  language, child-rearing, story-telling, education, religion, art, history, music, and philosophy.  These various social and cultural factors shape “the way humans think”.  
But human languages, cultures, stories, religions, art, history, music, philosophical ideas, are all complex historical phenomena that develop in random and unpredictable ways.  It seems impossible for any being, no matter how much knowledge it had of the biology and physiology of the brain, could predict all of the detailed ways in which human thinking would develop and evolve over the span of hundreds of thousands of years.  
Predicting the specific behaviour of fairly simple systems of physical objects accurately over hundreds of thousands of years is extremely difficult, so the much more complex and random developments of human cultures and societies (plus the interactions between various human cultures and societies) appears to be an impossible task, even for a being of superhuman intelligence.  Thus, there is good reason to doubt that even a being that had a good grasp of the structures and functions of the human brain would be able to anticipate the myriad of random details that would develop in human cultures and societies which would in turn have significant impacts on “the way humans think”.  Premise (27b) should be rejected because it is probably false.  
Because both of the premises in Geisler’s argument for (28b) are probably false, the argument for (28b) is very probably an UNSOUND argument, so we ought to reject that argument.  Furthermore, (28b) is subject to some of the same objections as the premises it is based upon.  Like (26a) it might well be talking about NOTHING, since it is questionable whether there is such a being as “the designer of the universe”, and Geisler has FAILED to show that there is such a being.  Like (27b), there is the problem of knowing about all of the various details of how human cultures and societies will evolve hundreds of thousands of years BEFORE those developments actually occur.  So, we have good reason to believe that (28b) is false, and Geisler has FAILED to provide a good reason to believe that (28b) is true, so we ought to conclude that (28b) is probably false.
Because (28b) is probably false, the argument provided by Geisler in support of premise (30b) is probably an unsound argument.  Furthermore, we have good reason to doubt that premise (30b) is true.  Premise (30b) is subject to some of the same objections raised against other premises in this argument.  
First, the assumption that there is such a being as “the designer of the universe” is highly questionable, and Geisler has provided no good reason to accept this assumption.  Second, even if there were such a being as “the designer of the universe” it is quite possible that this being ceased to exist billions of years ago,  billions of years before human brains were being designed, and thus it would not be true that “the designer of the universe” had great intelligence at the time the human brain was being designed.  Third, there probably is no such thing as the time “when the human brain was being designed” because the human brain is the product of random, unthinking forces and processes (i.e. evolution).  Fourth, even if there was such a thing as “the designer of the universe” and there was such a thing as “the designer of the human brain”, these beings might well have been different beings, and thus the intelligence of “the designer of the human brain” would have no relevance for determining the intelligence of “the designer of the universe.”  
Geisler has FAILED to provide a good reason to believe that premise (30b) is true, and there are some good reasons to doubt that (30b) is true, so we ought to reject (30b) as probably false.  So, Geisler has FAILED to provide a sound argument for this conclusion:
31b. The being that caused the universe to begin to exist had great intelligence (when the human brain was being designed).
CONCLUSION:
Here is the diagram of my final version (Rev.B) of  this argument:
Argument 3 of Phase 2 RevB
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I have argued that every premise in Argument #3 of Phase 2 ought to be rejected, except for premise (29):

  • Premise (25) is questionable, and because Geisler FAILS to provide any reason whatsoever to believe that (25) is true.
  • There are good reasons to doubt (26a), and no good reason to believe (26a) is true, we ought to reject this premise as probably false.
  • Premise (27b) should be rejected because it is probably false.  
  •  We have good reason to believe that (28b) is false, and Geisler has FAILED to provide a good reason to believe that (28b) is true, so we ought to conclude that (28b) is probably false.
  • Geisler has FAILED to provide a good reason to believe that premise (30b) is true, and there are some good reasons to doubt that (30b) is true, so we ought to reject (30b) as probably false.

I did argue that premise (29a) was clearly and obviously FALSE, because Geisler screwed up the references to time-frames in that premise.  But after revising (29) to fix the problem with the mis-matched time-frames between the antecedent and the consequent of that premise, I accepted the revised premise (29b) as a true premise.  Other than this one premise, which is true only because I fixed an obvious problem with that premise, every other premise in the argument ought to be rejected.  
This argument is a hot steaming pile of dog shit.  It is completely unworthy of a professional philosopher who has spent decades teaching and writing about the philosophy of religion and Christian apologetics.  
How can Geisler write such crap?  I think part of the blame goes to Thomas Aquinas* and to Thomists who follow in the footsteps of Aquinas.  As Richard Swinburnes says somewhere, Aquinas’s Five Ways are probably the least successful parts of the philosophical reasoning by Aquinas.  But many view the Five Ways as good or plausible arguments for the existence of God, and this widespread delusion creates a very low bar for arguments for the existence of God.  The Five Ways should be viewed as examples of HOW NOT TO ARGUE for the existence of God.  Because they are often viewed as examples of good arguments for the existence of God, many people are led astray.
Another, perhaps more obvious, problem is that Geisler is preaching to the choir.  The audience or readers of Geisler’s books are generally Evangelical Chrstian believers who just want someone in a postion of authority to say “We have very good reasons and arguments to show that God exists, that Jesus is divine, and that the Bible is the Word of God.”  These Christian believers are uncritical thinkers, at least when it comes to theology and philosophy, so they will accept any pile of dog shit that Geisler serves them on a china platter.  Because Geisler writes for readers who are not skeptical and who are uncritical thinkers, he is intellectually lazy and sloppy, and has no real incentive to do any better.
 
*I should note that although I think the Five Ways of Aquinas are lousy arguments for the existence of God, I also think that Aquinas never intended the Five Ways to be taken as arguments for the existence of God.  Rather, they are merely the initial arguments of a long and complex case for the existence of God that extends far beyond the one page or so where he presents the Five Ways.  His case for God is presented in the “Treatise on God” in the First Part of Summa Theologica, specifically the first 26 Questions covered in Summa Theologica, consisting of about 150 pages of interconnected arguments.

bookmark_borderGeisler’s Five Ways – Part 7: Argument #2 of Phase 2

Here is the second argument in Phase 2 of Geisler’s case for the existence of God:
ARGUMENT #2 of PHASE 2
21. “…the design of the universe is far beyond anything that man could devise.” (WSA, p.26)
22. IF the design of the universe is far beyond anything that man could devise, THEN the designer of the universe had great intelligence (when the universe was being designed).
THUS:
23. The designer of the universe had great intelligence (when the universe was being designed).
24. Whatever being caused the universe to begin to exist is also the designer of the universe.
THEREFORE:
25. Whatever being “caused the universe” to begin to exist “had great intelligence” (when the universe was being designed).  (WSA, p.26)
Here is a diagram of this argument (with the conclusion at the top, and the premises below it):   

Argument 2 of Phase 2
 
 
 
 
 
 
This argument is also clearly a FAILURE.    Let’s begin with an examination of premise (24):
24. Whatever being caused the universe to begin to exist is also the designer of the universe.
Geisler does not explicitly state this premise, but he clearly NEEDS this premise in order to get to the conclusion, which talks about a being that “caused the universe”.   The other premises of this argument appear to be focused on the “designer of the universe”, so those premises are irrelevant to the conclusion apart from the assumption that the being that caused the universe to begin to exist and the designer of the universe are the same being.
But not only does Geisler FAIL to make this assumption explicit,  he also FAILS to provide any reason whatsover to believe that this assumption is true.  It is certainly NOT a necessary truth, because it is conceivable and logically possible that one being designed the universe and another different being caused the universe to begin to exist.  
One way this could happen is if one being were to create the basic matter of the universe, and then a second being came along and organized that matter into planets, stars, solar systems, and galaxies.  The first being would have caused the universe to begin to exist, but the second being would be the designer of the universe, at least of the major astronomical features of the universe.
Another way this could happen is if one being were to design both the structure of matter of the universe and also the basic astronomical features of the universe, and then a second being came along and brought a universe into existence based on the design that had been developed by the first being.  
Clearly (24) is NOT a logically necessary truth.  It is possible for a cause of the universe and a designer of the universe to be two different beings. Since it is possible that (24) is false, and since there is no obvious reason to believe that (24) is true, Geisler’s argument is unacceptable unless and until he provides a good reason or argument showing that premise (24) is true.  Since Geisler makes no attempt to provide a reason or argument in support of (24), this argument is clearly a FAILURE, as it stands, because it is based on a questionable premise that we have no good reason to believe to be true.
The other key premise in this argument is (23):
23. The designer of the universe had great intelligence (when the universe was being designed).
This is obviously a questionable and controversial claim.  It would be question-begging to simply assume this premise to be true. Accordingly, Geisler provides us with an argument in support of premise (23):

21. “…the design of the universe is far beyond anything that man could devise.” (WSA, p.26)
22. IF the design of the universe is far beyond anything that man could devise, THEN the designer of the universe had great intelligence (when the universe was being designed).
THUS:
23. The designer of the universe had great intelligence (when the universe was being designed).

Is this a sound argument?  The logic is fine (a standard modus ponens inference), so we only need to be concerned about whether the premises are true.  If both premise (21) and (22) are true, then we ought to accept (23).  
Let’s begin by examining premise (21).  Is this premise true?
In order to evaluate whether (21) is true, we must first understand what (21) means. As with most of Geisler’s premises, this statement is UNCLEAR, so we cannot evaluate the truth of this premise as it stands.  The sentence asserted in (21) has a subject and a predicate.  The subject of (21) is unclear, and the predicate of (21) is unclear.  
Let’s start with the subject:
(S21) The design of the universe…  
As it stands, this premise begs an important question.  It ASSUMES that there is such a thing as “the design” of the universe.  But this is hardly an obvious or self-evident truth.  This is a controversial claim which Geisler needs to support with reasons or arguments.  
Furthermore, the use of the definite article “the” implies that there is EXACTLY ONE design that is a design of the universe.  Thus, even if we assume that the universe has a design (i.e. at least one design), the expression “the design of the universe” might not refer to anything at all, because there might be MANY designs of the universe.  
If there are MANY cars in the parking lot of the Safeway grocery store near my house, then the claim that
The car in the parking lot of the Safeway grocery store near my house is a Volkswagen
is NOT a true claim, because the subject “the car in the parking lot…” does not refer to any specific car.  
Because there are many cars in the parking lot, the expression “the car in the parking lot” has no clear referent.  Similarly, if there are MANY designs incorporated into various parts or aspects of the universe, then the expression “the design of the universe” has no clear referent, and thus premise (21) could not, under such circumstances, assert a true claim.  If there are MANY designs of the universe, then premise (21) is literally not talking about anything, because (21) would have no actual subject. Let’s rephrase the subject of (21) to make this point clear:
(S21a) There is EXACTLY ONE design that is a design of the universe…
One logical possiblity is that the universe incorporates several designs. For example, one being might have designed the electron, while another being designed the proton, and a third being designed neutrons.  Each sub-atomic particle might have been individually designed.  Each planet and each star could have been designed by a different being, or each solar system designed by a different being, or each galaxy designed by a different being.  The laws of gravity might have been designed by one being, while other laws of physics were designed by another being.  If different parts or aspects of the universe were designed by different beings, then although there would be MANY designs incorporated into the universe, it might well be the case that there is no such thing as “the design” of the universe, no single overarching plan that was devised for all of the major parts and aspects of the universe.
What this means is that in order to show that (21) is true, Geisler needs to prove not only that there is “a design” incorporated into some aspect of the universe, but that there is EXACTLY ONE design of the universe as a whole.  It appears to me that Geisler has made no attempt to show this to be the case.  If he has made no attempt to show that there is EXACTLY ONE design of the universe, then he has FAILED to show that premise (21) is true.
Before we move on to clarify the predicate of (21), it is important to note that there is a distinction between “a design IN the universe” and “a design OF the universe”.  Geisler, as usual, is sloppy in his writing and thinking, and he quickly slides over this distinction without any comment or clarification. Note that in his argument from design, Geisler uses the expression “design in the universe” in one of his premises:
All designs imply a designer.
There is a great design in the universe.
Therefore, there must be a Great Designer of the universe. (WSA, p.20, emphasis added)  
The second premise asserts that there is a great “design in the universe”.  Even if that were true, it does NOT imply that there is such a thing as “the design of the universe”. There may be parts or aspects of the universe that have “a design” even if the universe as a whole does not have a design.  For example, my car, my bicycle, and my cell phone are all objects in the universe.  Each of these things is a part of the universe, and each of these things has a design.  So, clearly there are parts or aspects of the universe that have a design, but the fact that my car was designed does NOT imply that the universe as a whole was designed.  It is a logical fallacy to infer from the fact that some parts or aspects of the universe have a design that the universe as a whole has a design.  
In the conclusion of his argument from design, Geisler talks about “a Great Designer of the universe”.  If the existence of such a being logically implies that there is such a thing as “the design of the universe”, then the inference in Geisler’s argument from design is logically invalid, because the premise only talks about there being “design in the universe”, and that could be the case if just one part or aspect of the universe had a design while the universe as a whole lacked a design.  The second premise of this argument from design appears to be too weak to prove the conclusion, because it leaves open the possibility that there is no such thing as “the design” of the universe.  
On the other hand, if the conclusion that there is “a Great Designer of the universe” only implies that there is AT LEAST ONE designer who designed AT LEAST ONE part or aspect of the universe, then this weaker conclusion might logically follow from the second premise, but this weaker conclusion is inadequate for Geisler to build upon in Phase 2.  If the possibility of there being MANY designers and MANY designs in the universe is left open, then Geisler cannot make inferences from the design of one specific part or aspect of the universe to the intelligence of “the designer” of the universe as a whole.  In order for Geisler’s Phase 2 to work, he needs to show that there is EXACTLY ONE designer of the universe, but he has not provided any reason whatsoever to believe this to be the case.  
So, it seems that the UNCLARITY in Geisler’s writing and thinking in relation to the difference between “design IN the universe” and “design OF the universe” hides a serious problem in his case for the existence of God.  By becoming clearer about the distinction between these two different ideas, we can then see yet another way in which Geisler’s case for God FAILS.  
Now let’s consider the predicate of premise (21):
(P21) …is far beyond anything that man could devise.
As it stands, the wording here is vague.  However, in context it is clear that what Geisler has in mind here is complexity of structure and function, especially in the design of a machine.  It is helpful to consider the full sentence that Geisler wrote:
Even Carl Sagan admits that the design of the universe is far beyond anything that man could devise.  (WSA, p.26)
Here Geisler refers back to his presentation of the argument from design and to a quotation that he gave from Carl Sagan’s book Cosmos:
The information content of the human brain expressed in bits is probably comparable to the total number of connections among neurons–about a hundred trillion….  If written out in English, say, that information would fill some twenty million volumes, as many as in the world’s largest libraries.  The equivalent of twenty million books is inside the heads of every one of us.  The brain is a very big place in a very small space. … The neurochemistry of the brain is astonishingly busy, the circuitry of a machine more wonderful than any devised by humans.    (WSA, p.21. Geisler is quoting from Cosmos, p.278)
[Note that Sagan was talking about the human brain, not about the universe as a whole.  So, even if it were true that the human brain has a design that was produced by some being who existed prior to the human species, it does not follow that there is such a thing as “the design of the universe,” nor that there is such a thing as “the designer of the universe,” nor that “the designer of the universe” must be as intelligent as the designer of the human brain.  Sagan also does NOT claim that the complexity of the structure and function of the human brain is something that “is far beyond” what humans “could devise”, but rather that it is beyond the complexity of any machine that has been devised by humans (so far). That leaves open the possibility that humans might in the future create a machine that was as complex in structure and function as the human brain.]
The paragraph in which this quote of Sagan is given begins this way:
That’s where the next premise comes in [i.e. “There is a great design in the universe.”]. The design we see in the universe is complex. (WSA, p.21)
What is the relevance of the design in the universe being “complex”?  The relevance is indicated at the end of the paragraph prior to the one just quoted:
…the more complex that design is, the greater the intelligence required to produce it.  (WSA, p.21)
The more complex a design is, the more intelligent the being that produced that design must be.  Given the context of the quote from Sagan and the context of the relevance of the concept of “complexity” of a design, we can clarify the meaning of the predicate of (21):  
(P21a) …is more complex in structure and function than that of any design (of a machine) that human beings could ever (with their limited intelligence) devise.  
We can now re-state premise (21) so that it’s meaning is significantly more clear:
(21a) There is EXACTLY ONE design that is a design of the universe, and that design is more complex in structure and function than that of any design (of a machine) that human beings could ever (with their limited intelligence) devise.  
A reasonably full-fledged “design of the universe” would presumably include the following: (a) a specification of the laws of physics,  (b) a specification of the sub-atomic structure of atoms, (c) a specification of the amounts of various kinds of matter and energy in the universe at the beginning of the universe, (d) other initial physical conditions of the universe, and (e) a specification of the astronomical structure of the universe (e.g. billions of galaxies each containing billions of stars and planets) that would result from the other design specifications.  
But a desgn of the universe might only be a partial design.  For example, suppose that the laws of physics and the sub-atomic structure of atoms has always existed and is undesigned.  Some intelligent being (or beings) could have taken this already existing material and created our universe according to a plan or design that was aimed at producing billions of galaxies each containing billions of stars and planets.  In this case, it would make sense to speak of “the design of the universe”, but that design would be focused on the astronomical structure of the universe and it would NOT include the sub-atomic structure of atoms, nor would it specify the laws of physics, because those other elements of the universe would already be in existence, and there would be no need to design or create those aspects of the universe.  
At the other extreme, “the design of the universe” could include every little fact about the universe, and every event that would ever occur in the universe, including what I would eat for breakfast this morning.  Geisler believes in a creator being who is omniscient and omnipotent, and such a being would have the knowledge and power to determine in advance every little fact and event in the history of the universe, including what I would eat for breakfast this morning.  
Given the wide diversity of possible contents of “the design of the universe”–ranging from a specification of only the astronomical structure of the universe, to a full-fledge design that includes laws of physics, sub-atomic structure, various initial conditions, and astronomical structure, to the extreme concept of a design that includes every fact and event in the entire history of the universe–the concept of “a design of the universe” is still a rather broad and vague concept in need of careful examination and treatment.
Finally, as mentioned previously, there could be some things in the universe that were designed, even if the universe as a whole was NOT designed.  Geisler in presenting his argument from design quoted Carl Sagan’s comments about the amazingly complex structure and function of the human brain.  This does not appear to help Geisler’s case though, because even if the human brain was designed, this does NOT imply that the universe as a whole was designed.  Furthermore, even if we granted the assumption that the human brain was designed and that the universe as a whole was designed, this does NOT imply that the designer of the universe is the same being as the designer of the human brain.  So, the intelligence of the being that designed the human brain might well be greatly superior to the intelligence of the being that designed the universe as a whole.  
To be clear about the concept of “a design of the universe”, we should keep in mind some various logical possibilities:
POSSIBILITY 1  
There is such a thing as “the design of the universe” but there is no particular being that is “the designer of the universe”, because there are MANY designers who produced the design of the universe, not just one.  
POSSIBILITY 2  
There is such a thing as “the design of the universe”, but there are no beings who are designers of the universe, because the design of the universe is the product of random or unintelligent forces and is NOT the product of a person or an intelligent being.
POSSIBILITY 3   
There are specific things in the universe or specific aspects of the universe that were designed (e.g. DNA, or the human brain), and thus there is “design IN the universe”, but there is no such thing as “the design OF the universe” because there is no overarching plan or design of the universe as a whole.  
POSSIBILITY 4
There is such a thing as “the design of the universe” and there is also a being who is “the designer of the universe”, but this being did not design some of the natural phenomena that have complex structures and functions because those natural phenomena are not the product of an intelligent designer (e.g. the human brain is the product of evolution and random variations and genetic changes and mutations, not the product of an intelligent designer).  
POSSIBILITY 5  
There is such a thing as “the design of the universe” and there is also a being who is “the designer of the universe”, but this being did not design some of the natural phenomena that have complex structures and functions (e.g. the human brain), but some OTHER intelligent being(s) produced the design of the other complex natural phenomena (thus the designer of the human brain might be very intelligent, while the designer of the universe might be much less intelligent, perhaps less intelligent than human beings).  
These scenarios all appear to be logical possibilities, so in order for Geisler’s case to be successful, he needs to show that either these are NOT logically possible, or that there is good reason to believe that these scenarios are highly improbable (or that some of these scenarios are logically impossible and that the others are highly improbable).  
POSSIBILITY 2 appears to be ruled out by the first premise of Geisler’s argument from design.  Here is his argument from design:
All designs imply a designer.
There is a great design in the universe.
Therefore, there must be a Great Designer of the universe. (WSA, p.20, emphasis added)  
If it is true that “All designs imply a designer”, then doesn’t that eliminate the possibility that there could be such a thing as “the design of the universe” without there also being at least one “designer of the universe”?  That depends on how we interpret the word “imply” in the first premise.  One straightforward interpretation is that “imply” means “logically entail”:  
All designs LOGICALLY ENTAIL the existence of at least one designer (who produced the design in question).  
However, if we interpret the first premise of Geisler’s argument from design this way, then his argument FAILS for two good reasons:  (1) the first premise would be FALSE, and (2) the second premise would beg the question at issue.
On this interpretation the first premise of Geisler’s argument from design would be FALSE, because it is logically possible for a design to happen by random chance.  Geisler admits this to be a logical possibility, because he argues that it is IMPROBABLE that something like the complex structures and functions found in a living cell would occur as the result of random, unintelligent forces and processes.  Claiming that this is IMPROBABLE, implies that it is logically possible, for if there was a logical contradiction in the idea of a design produced by random, unthinking forces and processes, then Geisler would simply point out that logical contradiction and that would be sufficient to eliminate the possibility of a design existing apart from a designer.   But Geisler does not do this; instead, he argues that the it would be IMPROBABLE that all of the various structures and functions of a cell would just happen to occur as the result of random, unthinking forces and processes.  But even if it is highly improbable that X will happen, that still leaves open that possibility that X will happen.  Even if it is highly improbable that I will win the state lottery tomorrow, that still leaves open the possibility that I will win the state lottery tomorrow.
On this interpretation, the second premise of Geisler’s argument from design would beg the question at issue.  If we assume that the first premise of his argument was true, if we assume that the very concept of “a design” logically entails the existence of “a designer”, then the second premise would presuppose what the argument is trying to establish:  
There is a great design in the universe.
This premise would, on this interpretation, presuppose the existence of a designer.  In order to KNOW that this premise was in fact true, one would have to first KNOW that there exists a designer of the universe.  But that is what the argument is trying to establish!  So, this is not merely the weak sort of question begging where a premise that is controversial is asserted without reasons or evidence; this is the strong form of question begging that we call circular reasoning.  On this interpretation of the first premise, the second premise presupposes the truth of the concusion of the argument, and thus the argument would commit the fallacy of circular reasoning.
In order for Geisler’s argument from design to have any chance of being successful, we must interpret the first premise to be making a weaker claim, a claim that does not assert a logical entailment between “design” and “designers, a claim such as this:
All designs PROVIDE EVIDENCE that increases the PROBABILITY of the existence of at least one designer (who produced the design in question).   
This revised version is probably too weak to provide adequate support for Geisler’s case for God, but however one modifies and clarifies the first premise of his argument from design, that premise wil have to leave open the logical possibility of a design existing without it having been produced by a designer.  
So, let’s return to the key question: Is premise (21a) true or false?
(21a) There is EXACTLY ONE design that is a design of the universe, and that design is more complex in structure and function than that of any design (of a machine) that human beings could ever (with their limited intelligence) devise.  
Is there exactly one design that is a design of the universe?  Is there an overarching design of the universe as a whole?  I don’t think so.  As far as I can see, Geisler has not even attempted to show this to be the case.  He talks mainly about the complexity of the structure and function of DNA, living cells, living organisms, and the human brain.  But these are just things IN the universe or aspects of the universe.  So, even if these things or aspects were designed, that does not imply that the universe as a whole was designed, nor that there is a design of the universe as a whole.  
Furthermore, if we think about the universe as a whole, the analogy with a machine (like a watch) is not a very good analogy.  A watch has a clear and obvious function (keeping track of the passing of time), and all of the structures and functions of parts and aspects of a watch can be related to the function of the watch as a whole.  But there is no similarly clear and obvious function of the universe as a whole.  
The main function that is often suggested is the production of living creatures or the production of intelligent creatures (like human beings).  But, why is there a need for billions of galaxies each filled with billions of stars and planets?  One little solar system with a few planets orbiting one sun would do the trick.  But the chance of a living simple organism forming out of non-living chemicals on a planet seems highly unlikely, especially in a period of only thousands or millions of years.  So, one might argue that in order to ensure that a simple living organism is produced by random natural processes, the universe had to be terrifically large, with a fantastic number of stars and planets and solar systems, and the universe had to be designed to last for billions of years to allow enough time for random natural processes to produce simple living creatures somewhere in the universe.
But then, if an intelligent being wanted to produce living creatures, why do so using random physical processes that would take billions of billions of solar systems billions of years to produce one living creature? and then another billion years or more for that creature’s offspring to (possibly) produce intelligent creatures (if the planet and solar system continued to exist for that long)?  Why not produce living creatures or even intelligent creatures DIRECTLY, as in the creation myth in the book of Genesis?  
Using slow and random physical processes to produce a living creature, and using the slow and random process of evolution to produce an intelligent creature from a simple single-celled organism, seems like a terrifically stupid and inefficient way of producing living creatures and intelligent creatures. If the purpose of the universe is to produce living creatures, it is a fairly lousy mechanism for accomplishing this purpose.  The universe does not appear to be a carefully designed mechanism for producing living creatures, or anything else.  
Suppose I am wrong, and there is exactly one design that is a design of the universe as a whole, and suppose that the purpose of the universe is to bring about living creatures or intelligent living creatures.  In this case, would the design of the universe be so complex in structure and function that it would be “far beyond” the limited intelligence of human beings to produce that design or the design of a machine in which the complexity of the structure and content of the machine was of a similar degree as the complexity and structure of the design of this universe?  I don’t think so.  Geisler has given us no good reason to believe this to be so.  His discussion of DNA, cells, and the human brain is irrelevant, because he has given us no reason to believe that the design of these things (DNA, cells, and the human brain) was produced by the being who produced the design of the universe as a whole.  
Assuming, for the sake of argument, that there was exactly one design that was a design of the universe as a whole, this design need not have included the structure and function of DNA, cells, or the human brain.  In fact, it is highly implausible that a design formulated billions of years ago concering the initial conditions of our universe, would have any relevance to the specific structures and functions of human brains, which evolved as the result of the random, unthinking process of evolution.  The initial physical conditions of the universe only, at best, allowed for the coming into existence of solar systems where living organisms might form by random, unthinking physical processes, and thus allow for random, unthinking process of evolution to start up.  But creating the conditions to make it possible for the evolution of life and of intelligent creatures, is not the same thing as determining the specific path that the evolution of intelligent creatures would follow over the course of a billion years or more.  
So, if “the design” of the universe did not include DNA, cells, or the human brain, then what would it have included? Presumably, it would include the sub-atomic structure of matter, the laws of physics,  the initial conditions of the universe, and the general astronomical structure of the universe that was intended to result from those other aspects of the design.  Is such a design “far beyond” the complexity of any design that human beings will ever be able to produce?  I don’t think so.  We human beings seem to have a pretty good handle on the sub-atomic structure of matter, the laws of physics, the initial conditions of the universe, and the general astronomical structure of the universe.  So, the content of this alleged design of the universe appears to be something about which human beings, at least smart and well-educated human beings,  have a pretty good understanding.  So, it does not seem at all unlikely that human beings would one day be able to produce a design for a machine that has the same level of complexity of structure and function as the universe.  
There is good reason to doubt that there is exaclty one design that is a design of the universe and Geisler has FAILED to provide a good reason to think otherwise. There is also good reason to doubt the degree of complexity in the design of the universe is far beyond the intellectual capability of human beings, and Geisler has FAILED to provide a good reason to think otherwise.  So, we ought to reject premise (21a) as being probably false.  This is a second reason for rejecting Argument #2 of Phase 2 of Geisler’s case for the existence of God.
================================
UPATED on 11/14/16
I have added comments on premise (22).
================================
There is one more premise to examine in this argument:
22. IF the design of the universe is far beyond anything that man could devise, THEN the designer of the universe had great intelligence (when the universe was being designed).  
First, before we try to determine whether this premise is true or false, it needs to be revised in keeping with the clarification of premise (21):  
22a. IF there is EXACTLY ONE design that is a design of the universe, and that design is more complex in structure and function than that of any design (of a machine) that human beings could ever (with their limited intelligence) devise, THEN there is EXACTLY ONE designer of the universe, and that designer had greater intelligence than any human being (when the universe was being designed). 
Is premise (22a) true or false?  The points I have made previously in this discussion of Geisler’s argument from design point to some significant problems with this premise.
Strictly speaking, this premise is FALSE, because no matter how complex a design might be, it is always logically possible for that design to have been produced by random, unthinking forces and processes.  However, since we are supposed to assume here that the complexity of the design of the universe is so great that humans could not ever produce a design of that degree of complexity, one could argue that it is highly improbable that random, unthinking forces and processes would produce such a highly complex design.  So, although the conditional statement above is false, interpreting the IF/THEN as one of logical entailment or logical necessity, it could be argued that the connection between the antecedent and the consequent is quite a strong one.  The antecedent, it might be argued, provides a very powerful piece of evidence for the truth of the consequent, even though it falls short of being a necessary logical connection or implication.
Mr. Geisler’s own example of the complexity of the structure and function of the human brain, however, works as a counterexample here.  We have very good reason to believe that the complex structure and function of the human brain was produced by random, unthinking forces and processes.  Thus, if the human brain has a design (as Geisler insists), and if the human brain has a design that is so complex that it would not be possible for human beings to produce a design with that degree of complexity (as Geisler insists), then one of the most complex designs in the universe is a design that was produced by random, unthinking processes, and was NOT produced by an intelligent designer, nor by a group or team of intelligent designers.
Furthermore, as we have previously seen, even assuming that there is EXACTLY ONE design of the universe, that design might have been produced by MANY designers, so the existence of EXACTLY ONE design of the universe does NOT show that there is EXACTLY ONE designer of the universe who produced that design.
Finally, since for all we know it might be the case that the ONE design of the universe was produced by a group or team of designers, we cannot infer the degree of intelligence of individual designers on the basis of the degree of complexity of that design.  The degree of complexity of a design that was produced by a group or team of designers can exceed the level of knowledge and intelligence of any individual designer in the group or team of designers that produced the design.  
So, we cannot legitimately infer from the existence of a complex design that there are any intelligent beings who produced that design, nor that the design was produced by EXACTLY ONE designer, nor can we infer from a highly complex design the existence of a designer of great intelligence, since the design may have been produced by a group or team of designers. For these reasons, we ought to reject premise (22a) as being probably false.
CONCLUSION
We ought to reject Argument #2 of Phase 2, because it rests on a questionable and controversial premise, premise (24) and Geisler provides no reason whatsoever why we ought to believe that premise is true, and because there are good reasons to doubt the other basic premises of this argument, premises (22a) and (21a), and Geisler has FAILED to provide good reasons to believe those premises to be true.

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

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

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

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

Argument 3 of Phase 2


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

bookmark_borderBehe’s Continues to Ignore His Strongest Philosophical Critic

The blog Evolution News & Views just re-published a long essay written by Michael Behe in 2000 in which he responds to the philosophical objections of his critics. It’s unfortunate, however, that Behe has never acknowledged his strongest philosophical critic, Purdue University philosopher Paul Draper. In 2002, Draper wrote a critique of Behe’s book, Darwin’s Black Box, in the journal Faith and Philosophy. (Click here for a link to the paper’s record at PhilPapers.org.) Draper’s paper did manage to convince Alvin Plantinga that Behe’s argument is at best incomplete (and definitely does not establish the falsity of Darwinian gradualism–which was Behe’s main target). Given Plantinga’s strong initial inclination to agree with Behe, this was no small accomplishment by Draper.
Although the actual copy of Draper’s paper is behind a paywall, Ex-Apologist wrote an excellent and detailed synopsis here.
Note: an earlier version of this blog post missed the fact that Behe’s essay was written in 2000 and treated the publication on Evolution News & Views as if it were a new essay. I regret the error. JJL

bookmark_borderGeisler’s Five Ways – Part 3: Just ONE Argument

Although, as I have previously argued, Geisler characterizes his case for God as consisting of multiple arguments for the existence of God,  this is a mischaracterization of his case for God.
 
Geisler’s case for God rests upon five claims, and he gives an argument for each  of those five claims, but each of those five claims plays a critical role in Geisler’s case.  If one of the five claims is false, then Geisler’s case for the existence of God FAILS.  Thus, Geisler’s case for God consists of just ONE argument, and the five claims function as premises in that ONE argument.
 
There are two main options for representing the logical relationship between the five claims (for which Geisler presents his five arguments) and the ultimate conclusion that “God exists”.  Based on Geisler’s characterization of his own case for God, one might well be tempted to think that his case consists of five arguments or five independent reasons for believing that God exists:

Five Arguments for God
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The last step of the argument is from premise (6) to the ultimate conlcusion (7):
 
(6) There currently exists a being that caused the universe to begin to exist, and this being is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, infinite, uncreated, unchanging, eternal, and omnipresent. (WSA, p.26 and p.28)
 
THEREFORE:
 
(7) God exists.
 
It is very tempting for Christian believers and Christian apologists to view a case for God this way, because on this view the believer has five chances to win.
 
On this view, if just ONE of the five arguments is a sound argument, then the case for God works.  On this view, even if each one of the five arguments is somewhat questionable (containing a premise of uncertain truth or an inference of uncertain validity), so long as each argument has some significant probability of being a sound argument, then there would be a good chance that at least ONE argument is sound, and thus there would be a good chance that the overall case for God works, and that God actually exists.
 
Unfortunately for Geisler and his Christian readers, this is NOT how the logic of Geisler’s case actually functions.  In reality, his case for God consists of just ONE argument that requires each of his five arguments to be sound in order for his case for the existence of God to be successful.  It is actually the skeptic who has five chances to win, because if just ONE of the five arguments is an unsound argument, then Geisler’s case for the existence of God FAILS.
 
Here is a diagram showing the actual logical structure (at a high level) of Geisler’s case for God:

One Argument for God
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The logic of Geisler’s ONE argument for the existence of God is a bit more complicated than what appears in the above diagram.  So, I am going to start laying out the details of the logic of his argument, so that we can evaluate an argument that is a clear and accurate representation of Geisler’s reasoning about the existence of God.

The first order of business is to specify and clarify the conclusions of Geisler’s five arguments.  Here are the conclusions in Geisler’s own words:

  1. Therefore, the universe was caused by something else, and this cause was God. (WSA, p.16)
  2. Therefore, there must be a first uncaused cause of every finite, changing thing that exists. (WSA, p.19)
  3. Therefore, there must be a Great Designer of the universe. (WSA, p. 20)
  4. Therefore, there must be a supreme moral Lawgiver.  (WSA, p.22)
  5. Therefore, if God exists, then He must exist and cannot not exist. (WSA, p.25)

These conclusions need to be cleaned up and clarified, so that we have an accurate understanding of what they mean:

1a. The universe was caused to begin to exist (in the past) by at least one thing or being other than the universe (or some part or aspect of the universe) that existed prior to when the universe began to exist.
2a. There currently exists at least one uncaused cause for each finite, changing thing that currently exists.
3a. There existed (in the past) at least one Great Designer who designed some aspect of the universe
4a. There existed (in the past) at least one supreme Lawgiver of laws of morality.

Claim (5) is a bit tricky, because it appears to be ambiguous.  The ambiguous term in (5) is the word “God”, and I believe that Geisler commits the fallacy of equivocation in how he makes use of (5).  Here are the two different ways of interpreting (5):
5a. If there is or ever was a being that was God (i.e. “the most perfect Being possible”), then that being must always exist and cannot not exist.
5b. If there is or ever was a being that caused the universe to begin to exist, then that being must always exist and cannot not exist.
If we interpret (5) as meaning the same as (5a), then this claim is irrelevant to Geisler’s case for God, because the antecedent of the conditional implies that “God exists now or God existed in the past” and none of Geisler’s other arguments show this to be the case.  So, (5a) cannot be used to infer any other claims, and it is thus useless in his case for the existence of God.
On the other hand, if we interpret (5) as meaning the same as (5b), then Geisler can use the conclusion (1a) from his first argument and combine it with (5b) to infer that the cause (or causes) of the beginning of the universe “must always exist and cannot not exist”, which might be helpful to his case for the existence of God.
The problem with (5b) is that it appears to be FALSE. We can conceive of a being that caused the universe to begin to exist but then, perhaps due to the exertion required for that great feat, ceased to exist. If this is a logical possibility, then (5b) is FALSE.  
In any case, Geisler has given us no good reason to believe that (5b) is true.  The argument for (5) goes like this (WSA, p.25):

If God exists, we conceive of Him as a necessary Being.

By definition, a necessary Being must exist and cannot not exist.
 
THEREFORE:
 
If God exists, then He must exist and cannot not exist.
As it stands, this argument is of no use to Geisler’s case for the existence of God, because he must FIRST prove that “God exists” in order to make use of the conclusion of this argument.  But if Geisler can prove that “God exists” with some other argument, then there is no need for this argument.  So, this argument is only of use to Geisler if the word “God” here is interpreted in the weak sense of something that caused the universe to begin to exist.  
 
Geisler believes that his first argument shows that “the universe was caused by something else”.  We need to rephrase the above argument to make the intended meanings of the premises and conclusion clear:
 
8. If there is or ever was a being that caused the universe to begin to exist, then we must conceive of that being as a necessary Being.
 
9.  By definition, a necessary Being must always exist and cannot not exist.
 
THEREFORE:
 
5b. If there is or ever was a being that caused the universe to begin to exist, then that being must always exist and cannot not exist.
 
The key premise (8) is FALSE.  We can conceive of something causing the universe to begin to exist which is NOT a necessary Being.  For example, we can conceive of a powerful angel causing the universe to begin to exist even though that angel was NOT a necessary Being.
 
So,  if the conclusion of the fifth argument is (5a), then the argument is irrelevant to Geisler’s case for God, but if the conclusion of the fifth argument is (5b), then it is relevant to his case for God, but the fifth argument would then be unsound, because it is based on a premise that is FALSE.  So, we have no good reason to believe that (5b) is true.
 
To be continued… 

bookmark_borderGeisler’s Five Ways – Part 2: How Many Arguments for God?

In Chapter  2 of When Skeptics Ask (hereafter: WSA), Norman Geisler appears to present five different arguments for the existence of God.  However, there are some significant problems with this characterization of Geisler’s case for God.
 
NONE of the five arguments end with the conclusion that “God exists”.  In fact, only his first argument even mentions the word “God”, and it is precisely the reference to “God” in the conclusion of his first argument that makes that argument logically invalid!  So, if we correct the logic of the first argument, and remove the reference to “God” in it’s conclusion, then there is no mention of “God” anywhere in any of Geisler’s five arguments.  There is no mention of “God” in the premises of any of the five arguments presented by Geisler, and there is no mention of “God” in the conclusions of his arguments, with the exception of the first argument.
 
How can Geisler present five arguments for the existence of God, and yet NONE of the arguments ends with the conclusion that “God exists”?  This is bizzarre.  This is absurd. This is ridiculous.  What the hell is going on here?
 
Geisler is a professional philosopher who has specialized in the philosophy of religion and in Christian apologetics, and he has been writing books defending basic Christian beliefs for decades.  I remember reading his book Christian Apologetics in the early 1980’s, and that book was originally published in 1976.  He earned his PhD in Philosophy in 1970.  Here is a blurb on Geisler from his website:
 
Dr. Norman Geisler, PhD, is a prolific author, veteran professor, speaker, lecturer, traveler, philosopher, apologist, evangelist, and theologian. To those who ask, “Who is Norm Geisler?” some have suggested, “Imagine a cross between Thomas Aquinas and Billy Graham and you’re not too far off.”
 
Norm has authored or co-authored over 100 books and hundreds of articles. He has taught theology, philosophy, and apologetics on the college or graduate level for over 50 years. He has served as a professor at some of the finest Seminaries in the United States, including Trinity Evangelical Seminary, and Dallas Theological Seminary. He now lends his talents to Veritas Evangelical Seminary and to Southern Evangelical Seminary.
 
Geisler is well-educated, well-informed, has a PhD in philosophy, and has been writing and lecturing on philosophy of religion and Christian apologetics since at least the 1970’s.  So, how can it be that he thinks he is presenting five arguments for the existence of God, and yet ZERO of the arguments that he gives end with the conclusion that “God exists”?
 
One might doubt the claim that Geisler thinks he is presenting five arguments for the existence of God, but there is good reason to believe this is in fact, how he views his own case for God:
  1. The first section of of Chapter 2 is labelled “Does God Exist?” (WSA, p.15). The five arguments are presented in this section, indicating that these arguments settle the question about the existence of God, in Geisler’s view.
  2. The first sub-section in that first section is labelled “Arguments for the Existence of God” (WSA, p.15)  Note that Geisler uses the plural “Arguments” not the singular term “Argument”.  The five arguments are presented in this sub-section, indicating that each one of the five arguments is believed to be an argument “for the existence of God”.
  3. The opening sentence of this sub-section states that there have “traditionally been four basic arguments used to prove God’s existence.” (WSA, p.15).  Geisler then goes on to present his five arguments in terms of these four basic types of argument; he gives two “forms” of cosmological argument (or what he calls “the Argument from Creation”) and one argument for each of the remaining three types of argument.
  4. In describing the history of “the Argument from Creation” (his term for cosmological arguments), Geisler states that this argument is “the most widely noted argument for God’s existence” (WSA, p.16).  This is a clear indication that each one of the “Arguments from Creation”  presented by Geisler is thought to be an argument “for God’s existence”.
  5. In describing the history of “the Moral Argument” Geisler mentions that Kant “rejected all of the traditional arguments for God’s existence.” (WSA, p.22).  Note the use of the plural “traditional arguments” and that these were arguments “for God’s existence”.  This parallels nicely with the idea that Geisler is presenting a number of “arguments” which are arguments “for God’s existence”.  This is an echo of Geisler’s intial statement that there have “traditionally been four basic arguments used to prove God’s existence.” (WSA, p.15).
  6. In describing the history of “the Moral Argument” Geisler mentions that this argument has been refined “to show that there is a rational basis for God’s existence to be found in morality.” (WSA, p.22).   This is an indication that Geisler believes that “the Moral Argument” can be used as a stand-alone argument to show that God exists.
Finally, Geisler is a Thomist.  He was clearly influenced by the philosophy of religion of Thomas Aquinas, and Aquinas is generally believed to have presented five different arguments for the existence of God.  Geisler does not stick with the five arguments used by Aquinas, but he does use at least a couple of Aquinas’s Five Ways, and he also sticks with presenting five brief arguments, just like in Aquinas’s (alleged) case for God.
 
Thus, there are several good reasons to conclude that Geisler believed he was presenting five different arguments for the existence of God, and yet we have the very odd fact that NONE of these arguments ends with the conclusion that “God exists”.  How can this be?
 
One big clue comes when Geisler discusses the second argument, which is Geisler’s version of a cosmological argument by Aquinas:
 
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.  How do we know that this is really the God of the Bible?  (WSA, p.19, emphasis added)
 
This is a fairly clear indication that Geisler is working with at least two different senses of the word “God”.  Geisler thinks that his second cosmological argument proves the existence of “God” (in one sense) but does NOT prove the existence of “the God of the Bible”.  He believes that the second cosmological argument proves the existence of some sort of “God” but not the existence of some other sort of “God”. 
 
But this is very confusing.  What kind of “God” does Geisler think his second argument proves?  and how is that kind of “God” different from the “God” of the Bible?  Furthermore, what sort of “God” does Geisler think his first argument proves to exist?  Does the first argument prove the existence of the “God” of the Bible or some other kind of “God”?  If it only proves the existence of some other kind of “God” is that other kind the same as the other kind of God proven by the second argument or is the other sort of “God” proven by the first argument different from both the “God” proven by the second argument and different from the “God” of the Bible as well? Is there a third sense of the word “God” that is in play in the claim that the first argument proves the existence of “God”?  Are we now dealing with three different senses of the word “God”?  
 
The same questions apply to each of the other arguments as well.  There is clearly an ambiguity in the way that Geisler uses the word “God”, but since he failed to provide any definition of the word “God”, we are at a loss to know what the hell he is talking about.
 
In spite of the great potential for confusion from using the word “God” in two or three different senses, Geisler never bothers to provide a definition of any sense of the word “God”. However, based on some additional reasoning and arguments that Geisler presents, it becomes fairly clear what he means when he speaks of the “God” of the Bible.  We will return to this point in a moment.
 
Geisler admits that there is a problem with considering his five arguments individually, as separate and independent arguments, and he suggests that we must somehow combine the five arguments together in order to arrive at the conclusion that “the God of the Bible” exists:
 
But what if we can combine all of these arguments into a cohesive whole that proves what kind of being God is as well as His existence?  That is what we will do in the following pages.
 
If we want to show that God exists and that He is the God of the Bible, then we need to show that all of the things in the arguments we mentioned are true.  Each one contributes something to our knowledge of God and, taken together, they form a picture that can only fit the one true God. (WSA, p.26, emphasis added)
 
Why bother to “combine all of the arguments”?  If Geisler has previously proven the existence of God four or five times, isn’t that enough?  In mathematics and in logic, you only need to give ONE proof and you are done.  Geisler gives five arguments, and then he continues on with some new hybrid argument that attempts to combine the previous five arguments “into a cohesive whole”.  Why not just quit after proving the existence of God four or five times?
 
Clearly, Geisler believes that his five arguments are NOT enough to prove that the “God” of the Bible exists. That is because the five arguments prove the existence of “God” in some other sense (or senses) of the word, a sense (or senses) of the word that Geisler fails to explain or define.
 
But it is clear what Geisler does think that he ends up proving with his combination of the five arguments “into a cohesive whole”, and so this gives us a fairly clear indication of what it is that he means by the “God” of the Bible:
 
We have said that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, infinite, uncreated, unchanging, eternal, and omnipresent.  (WSA, p.28)
 
We can construct a definition of the word “God” in accordance with the sort of “God” that Geisler thinks he has shown to exist:
 
X is God IF AND ONLY IF:
  1. X is all-powerful, and 
  2. X is all-knowing, and
  3. X is all-good, and 
  4. X is infinite, and 
  5. X is uncreated, and
  6. X is unchanging, and
  7. X is eternal, and 
  8. X is omnipresent.
Geisler admits that his first argument does NOT prove the existence of such a “God”, and that his second argument does NOT prove the existence of such a “God”, and that his third argument does NOT prove the existence of such a “God”, and that his fourth argument does NOT prove the existence of such a “God”, and that his fifth argument doe NOT prove the existence of such a “God”.  
 
Geisler admits that NONE of his five arguments is sufficient by itself to establish the existence of “God” in this sense of the word, which is (more or less) the ordinary sense of the word as used in the context of the Christian faith, Christian theology, and Christian-dominated cultures.
 
But then, what sort of “God” do his five arguments prove exists?  Geisler does not bother to spell this out, so we have to try to guess at what he means by the word “God” in this context.  In Geisler’s “combined” argument, he begins by using the cosmological arguments, his first two arguments, to prove that there is a being that caused the universe to begin to exist and to show that this being is very powerful (WSA, p.26).  
Geisler then uses his argument from design to show that:
 
…whatever caused the universe not only had great power, but also great intelligence. (WSA, p.26)
 
What connects these two arguments together is the idea of “whatever caused the universe” to begin to exist.  So, it would appear that the “God” that is proven to exist by the first argument is simply “whatever caused the universe” to begin to exist:
 
X is God IF AND ONLY IF:
X caused the universe to begin to exist.
 
But if this is what is meant by “God” in relation to what the five arguments can prove by themselves, individually, then it is still the case that most of the five arguments (with the possible exception of the first argument) FAIL to prove that “God” exists, even in this weak sense of the word.

The second cosmological argument allegedly shows the existence of a current sustaining cause of the universe, but this does not imply that the universe began to exist.  It is conceivable that the universe has always existed and that the sustaining cause has always caused the universe to continue to exist. (Avoiding the issue of whether the universe began to exist was precisely the reason that Aquinas favored this second cosmological argument and rejected the cosmological argument that Geisler gives as his first argument for “God”).  If the universe has always existed, then there is no X that caused the universe to begin to exist, so the truth of the conclusion of the second cosmological argument is compatible with there being no “God”, in the sense of something that “caused the universe to begin to exist”.
 
Geisler’s third argument allegedly proves the existence of a designer of the universe.  A designer of the universe is not necessarily the cause of the existence of the universe. The universe could have always existed, and at some point an intelligent being organized the matter of the universe into something like its present form.  In that case, there would be a designer, but no creator and no cause of the universe coming into existence.  
 
A moral lawgiver need not be the cause of the existence of the universe.  So, proving the existence of a supreme moral lawgiver FAILS to prove that “God” exists, in the sense of proving the existence of something that caused the universe to come into being.
 
Geisler admits that the fifth argument, an ontological argument, “fails to show that God actually exists.”  (p.25)  It is clear that by “God” here he means the weak sense of the word “God” (not the “God” of the Bible). So, argument number five is also a failure.
 
All of these failures of the five arguments to prove that “God exists” would have been evident from the start if Geisler had simply bothered to define the word “God” before presenting his five arguments, and if he had actually constructed clear arguments that ended with the conclusion that “God exists”.

bookmark_borderGeisler’s Five Ways

Norman Geisler is a Thomist.  His case for the existence of God is basically a simplified, clarified, and somewhat modified version of the case for God made by Thomas Aqinas in Summa Theologica.  Geisler borrows the basic logical structure of the case for God made by Aquinas, as well as some of the specific sub-arguments of Aquinas.
The standard view of Aquinas has it that Aquinas presents Five Ways or five arguments for the existence of God.  Geisler apparently accepts this standard view of Aquinas, and he is thus led to believe that his own case for God rests upon five arguments for the existence of God.
But the standard view of Aquinas is completely mistaken, and the Five Ways of Aquinas are NOT arguments for the existence of God.  Similarly, Geisler mischaracterizes his own case for God as including five arguments for the existence of God.  The truth of the matter, however, is that NONE of the five arguments presented by Geisler is an argument for the existence of God.  Geisler literally does not know what he is doing.
In order for an argument to BE an argument for the existence of God, the conclusion of the argument must be that “God exists” or that “There is a God”.  None of the five arguments presented by Geisler in his case for God ends with the conclusion that “God exists”, and none of the five arguments ends with the conclusion that “There is a God”.  Thus, it is very clear that NONE of the five arguments presented by Geisler in his case for God is an argument for the existence of God.
We saw in the previous post about Geisler’s first argument, that the word “God” did appear in the conclusion of that argument.  But we also saw that the word “God” did not appear in any of the premises of the argument, and that the inclusion of the phrase “this cause was God” in the conclusion of that argument makes that first argument logically invalid.  In order for the first argument to be logically valid, we must remove the reference to “God” in the conclusion.
If we look at just the conclusions of the remaining four arguments that Geisler presents, it is clear that none of those conclusions contain the word “God”:
Argument #G2: The universe needs a cause for its continuing existence (WSA, p.18-19)
4. Therefore, there must be a first uncaused cause of every finite, changing thing that exists. (WSA, p.18-19)
Argument #G3: Argument from design (WSA, p.20-22)
3. Therefore, there must be a Great Designer of the universe. (WSA, p.20)
Argument #G4: Argument from moral law (WSA, p. 22-24)
3.  Therefore, there must be a supreme moral Lawgiver. (WSA, p.22)
Argument #G5: Argument from being (p.24-26)
3. Therefore, necessary existence must be attributed to the most perfect Being. (WSA, p.24-25)
Since the word “God” does not appear in any of the conclusions of the remaining four arguments presented by Geisler, it is clear that NONE of these four arguments ends with the conclusion that “God exists” or that “There is a God”.  Therefore, NONE of the four remaining arguments is an argument for the existence of God.
Geisler believes that in his case for God he has presented five arguments for the existence of God, but it is crystal clear that, in fact, he has presented ZERO arguments for the existence of God.  So, it appears, at least initially, that Geisler’s case for God is a complete and utter failure.
However, just as the standard view of Aquinas presents a mischaracterization of the case for God made by Aquinas, so because of Geisler’s own misunderstanding of what he is doing, he has mischaracterized his own case for God.  If we come to see what Aquinas was actually doing in Summa Theologica, that will help us to understand what Geisler is actually doing in his case for God.  
Just as I believe that the case for God in Aquinas is a serious one that deserves serious consideration and analysis, so I think that Geisler’s case for God is better than what my critique has indicated so far.  There is some real substance to Geisler’s case for God, but we need to reconceive the overall logic of his case.