bookmark_borderLeviticus and Homosexuality – Part 4: Skepticism about God

WHERE WE ARE
Should we view homosexual sex as morally wrong because it is (allegedly) condemned in the book of Leviticus?  In Part 1 of this series I outlined a dozen reasons to doubt this viewpoint.  Here is the first reason:

1. God does NOT exist, so no prophet and no book contains truth or wisdom from God. 

My doubts about the existence of God are related to skepticism in general, and to three specific areas of skepticism:

  • Skepticism about Supernatural Claims
  • Skepticism about Religion
  • Skepticism about the Existence of God

In Part 2 of this series I explained my reason for skepticism in general (i.e. CYNICISM), and I explained my reasons for skepticism about supernatural claims.
In this Part 3 of this series I explained my reasons for skepticism about religion.
In this post I will cover my reasons for skepticism about the existence of God, the first two being based directly on my skepticism about supernatural claims and skepticism about religion.
SKEPTICISM ABOUT THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
A. Skepticism about supernatural powers and supernatural beings supports skepticism about the existence of God.
Over many centuries billions of people have mistakenly believed that there are ghosts and demons, invisible bodiless supernatural beings.  Over many centuries billions of people have mistakenly believed that there are people with amazing supernatural powers, what we now call psychics.   But there are no people who can actually move or bend physical objects with just their minds.  There are no people who can actually “see” future events.  There are no people who can actually “read” the thoughts of other people.  There are no people who can actually instantly heal physical injuries or organic diseases with just their minds.  There are no actual psychics.
Suppose someone claims that there is a person who has ALL of these supernatural psychic abilities.  Such a claim would be ridiculous on its face.  I remember as a young boy listening to Pastor Jim Jones of the “People’s Temple” on the radio in San Francisco, claiming that he had ALL of “the gifts of the spirit”, which include speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing,  miracles, and supernatural knowledge.  He, of course, turned out to be a mentally ill drug addict, who was followed by many naive, clueless, gullible, superstitious fools, many of whom followed him to Jonestown, a commune built in the jungle in Guyana, and then later ended their own lives by drinking poisoned cool-aid at the direction of Pastor Jim Jones.

Mass suicide at Jonestown (History.com article)

Now suppose that the “person” who allegedly has ALL of these amazing supernatural powers is not an ordinary person with a physical body, but is (allegedly) a ghost or spirit who is invisible and has no physical body.  Now we are getting into crazyville territory.  But belief in the existence of God is very similar to belief in the existence of a ghost who has many amazing psychic powers.
God, if God exists, is an invisible and immaterial supernatural being who has no physical body, like ghosts and demons.  God also has many supernatural powers.  God, if God exists, can “see” the future, just like a psychic.  God can make physical objects move (or bend) just by willing them to move (or bend), just like a psychic.  God can “read” minds, just like a psychic.  God can instantly heal people of injuries or diseases, just like a psychic.  So, belief in the existence of God is a lot like believing in the existence of a ghost who has many different psychic powers.
Although billions of people have for many centuries believed in supernatural beings (like ghosts or demons) and in supernatural powers (like those allegedly possessed by psychics), there is no good reason to believe that ghosts actually exist, or that psychics actually exist.  In fact, we have good reason to disbelieve in supernatural beings (like ghosts and demons) and to disbelieve in supernatural powers (like those allegedly possessed by psychics), because such alleged phenomena have been carefully and scientifically investigated for about 150 years, but no solid empirical evidence has ever been discovered that shows any such supernatural beliefs to be true.
So, we have good reason to be skeptical about God, and good reason to doubt that God exists, unless and until powerful empirical evidence confirming the existence of God becomes available.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for that evidence!
B. Skepticism about religions supports skepticism about the existence of God.
In Part 3 of this series  I presented a number of reasons for being skeptical about religions. Given those reasons for skepticism about religions, it might well be the case that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all FALSE.
That is, the worldviews promoted by these religions might well be FALSE, meaning that a large portion of the beliefs and assumptions that constitute each of these worldviews are FALSE.  Since a worldview contains several beliefs and assumptions, it is not necessary that EVERY belief and assumption in a worldview be FALSE in order for the worldview as a whole to be FALSE.  So long as a large portion of the beliefs and assumptions of a worldview are FALSE, that would provide sufficient grounds for evaluating the worldview as being FALSE.
But if all three major Western religions are FALSE, then that means that a large portion of the beliefs and assumptions that constitute the worldviews associated with these religions are FALSE.  One of the beliefs that is part of the worldviews of all three of these religions is the belief that God exists.  But if a large portion of the beliefs and assumptions that constitute these worldviews are FALSE, then it might well be the case that belief in the existence of God was one of those FALSE worldview beliefs.
In any case, if the worldviews of all three major Western religions were FALSE, then these three religions would have no significant credibility.  We could not, in that case, reasonably view any of these religions as a reliable source of knowledge or information about theology, metaphysics, or ethics.   Thus, doubt about the existence of God would be justified, unless there were good reasons independent of these religions to believe in the existence of God.
Reasons for skepticism about religion don’t prove that all religions are FALSE, but they do make it somewhat likely that all three major Western theistic religions are FALSE, and if all three major Western theistic religions were in fact FALSE, then we would have good reason to doubt that God exists.
C. The silence of God supports skepticism about the existence of God.
In Part 2 of this series, I presented this argument for disbelief in the existence of God:

21. IF God exists, THEN it is very likely that God communicated truth or wisdom to human beings through prophets or holy books in the past four thousand years.

22. There have been no prophets or holy books in the past four thousand years that have provided truth or wisdom from God.

THEREFORE:

23. It is probably NOT the case that God exists.

It is clear and certain that the “holy books” of the main three western theistic religions (i.e. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) were NOT inspired by God; they do not constitute messages from God.
Jehovah, the god of the Old Testament is clearly a morally flawed person, so that means that Jehovah was NOT God.  But if Jehovah was NOT God, then Moses was a false prophet, and the Torah was NOT inspired by God.  If Jehovah was a false god and Moses was a false prophet, then the other holy books of Judaism (which constitute the Old Testament in the Christian Bible) were also NOT inspired by God, since they assume Jehovah to be God and Moses to be a true prophet.
Jesus believed and taught that Moses was a true prophet, and Jesus practiced and promoted worship and obedience to Jehovah.  Since Moses was in fact a false prophet, and since Jehovah is in fact a false god, it follows logically that Jesus was also NOT a true prophet and NOT the divine Son of God.  If Jesus was NOT a true prophet and NOT the divine Son of God, then the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament were also NOT inspired by God. Thus both the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Christian Bible were NOT inspired by God.
According to the Quran, both Moses and Jesus were true prophets of God, so since Moses was in fact a false prophet, and Jesus also was in fact a false prophet, we can logically conclude that the Quran was NOT inspired by God, and that Muhammad himself was a false prophet, just like Moses and Jesus.  Therefore: NONE of the holy books of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam were inspired by God.
Furthermore, other supposedly “holy books” teach or assume that Jesus was a true prophet, or that Moses was a true prophet, or that Muhammad was a true prophet, so those “holy books” are also clearly NOT inspired by God, because Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad were in fact false prophets.  For example, The Book of Mormon, and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures both teach or assume that the Bible was inspired by God and that Jesus was a true prophet.  So, it is clear and certain that those two “holy books” are NOT inspired by God.
This means that either there have been NO prophets or holy books in the past four thousand years that have provided messages of truth and wisdom from God, or else that God attempted to communicate with mankind through a prophet and/or holy book in the past four thousand years, but God’s attempt was a failure, because that prophet and/or holy book are now unknown or known only to a small number of human beings.
But God, if God exists, is all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good.  How could such a being fail so miserably at an attempt to communicate truth and wisdom to the human race?  The hypothesis that God made such an attempt but failed miserably is very improbable.  So, the most likely scenario is that it is NOT the case that there have been any prophets or holy books in the past four thousand years that provide messages of truth and wisdom from God.
Premise (22) is very likely true, and premise (21) is believed by most Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and it seems very plausible to me too.  Therefore, the silence of God gives us a good reason to believe that there is no God.
D. The utter failure of Peter Kreeft’s case for God supports skepticism about the existence of God.
[Excerpts from some of my posts on Kreeft’s case for God:]
Given that 100% of the last ten arguments in Kreeft’s case FAIL to provide any good reason to believe that God exists, it might seem unlikely that there will be any strong and solid arguments for God among the remaining ten arguments.  However, it seems to me that Kreeft was trying to put his best foot forward by presenting his strongest and best arguments up front, at the beginning of his case, and thus saved the weakest and worst arguments for the second half of his case.
Argument #3 and Argument #5 FAIL for the same reasons that Argument #1 and Argument #2 FAILED:  Kreeft does not bother to SUPPORT the most important premise in each of these arguments, namely the premise that links his stated conclusion to the conclusion that actually matters: “God exists.”
The middle inference or sub-argument [in Argument #4] FAILS to provide a good reason for its conclusion, just like the initial inference or sub-argument FAILS to provide a good reason for its conclusion.  Thus, we may reasonably conclude that Argument #4 is a complete FAILURE.  This argument has multiple serious problems, and so it provides us no good reason to believe that God exists.
Argument #4 fails, and thus ALL FIVE of the arguments that Kreeft apparently believes to be the best and strongest arguments for the existence of God FAIL, just like ALL TEN of the last arguments of his case FAIL.  At this point, we have determined that at least 75% of the arguments (15 out of 20) in Kreeft’s case for God FAIL.  Given the perfect consistency of FAILURE in Kreeft’s case so far, it is unlikely that any of the remaining five arguments will turn out to be a strong and solid argument for the existence of God.
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/04/26/peter-kreefts-case-for-god-2/
E. The utter failure of Norman Geisler’s case for God supports skepticism about the existence of God.
[Excerpts from one of my posts on Geisler’s case for God:]
PHASE 1: GEISLER’s FIVE WAYS
PROBLEM 1:  Geisler FAILS to provide a clear definition of the word “God”, thus making his whole argument unclear and confusing.
PROBLEM 2:  Geisler has only ONE argument for the existence of God, but he mistakenly believes he has FIVE different and independent arguments for the existence of God.
PROBLEM 3: Geisler makes a confused and mistaken distinction between proving the existence of God and proving the existence of a being with various divine attributes.
PROBLEM 4: The conclusions of Geisler’s five basic arguments are UNCLEAR and AMBIGUOUS, leading to multiple fallacies of EQUIVOCATION by Geisler.
PROBLEM 5:  Because Geisler consistently FAILS to show that there is EXACTLY ONE being of such-and-such kind, he cannot prove that  “the cause of the beginning of the universe” is the same being as “the cause of the current existence of the universe” or as “the designer of the universe” or as “the moral lawgiver”.  
PHASE 2: THE CREATOR’S PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES
PROBLEM 6:  Geisler simply ASSUMES without providing any reason or argument that the (alleged) being that caused the beginning of the universe is the same being as the (alleged) being that designed the universe, and that the (alleged) being that caused the beginning of the universe is the same being as the (alleged) being that produced moral laws.
PHASE 3: THE EXISTENCE OF A NECESSARY BEING
PROBLEM 7:  Geisler illogically shifts from the claim that a perfect being must be a necessary being to the assumption that a being that caused the universe to begin to exist must be a necessary being.  This is an INVALID inference.
PHASE 4: THE IMPLICATIONS OF “A NECESSARY BEING”
PROBLEM 8: In his reasoning about the implications of the concept of a “necessary being”, Geisler confuses different senses of the verb “to be” leading to INVALID inferences about the implications of the concept of a “necessary being”.
PHASE 5: ONLY ONE INFINITE BEING
PROBLEM 9: Geisler’s assumption that two unlimited beings would be indistinguishable from each other is FALSE and it also contradicts a basic Christian dogma.
PHASE 6: GOD EXISTS
PROBLEM 10: Geisler has adopted a Thomistic concept of God, but this Thomistic concept of God is INCOHERENT, making it a necessary truth that “It is NOT the case that God exists.”
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/04/26/geislers-case-for-the-existence-of-god/
F. The fact that arguments for God often provide reasons against the existence of God supports skepticism about the existence of God. 
There is a theme in Jeff Lowder’s case for Naturalism:  the thinking of religious believers is often distorted by confirmation bias.  They look for evidence that supports their belief in God, but ignore, or forget, or fail to notice, evidence that goes against their belief in God.
When believers offer some reason or evidence for the existence of God, it is often the case that if you look a little closer at that evidence, or take a step back and look at the general sort of evidence or phenomena that an argument for God relies upon, you find powerful evidence AGAINST the existence of God, evidence that was missed or ignored by religious believers.
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2020/03/03/arguments-for-god-that-are-arguments-against-god/
To Be Continued…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

X is a “person” IF AND ONLY IF:

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

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

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

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

THEREFORE:

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

FURTHERMORE:

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

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

2. The universe began to exist.

THEREFORE:

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

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

THEREFORE:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

2. The universe began to exist.

THEREFORE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THEREFORE:

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

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

THEREFORE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THEREFORE:

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

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

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

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

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

WHERE WE ARE AT
There is only one more argument in Kreeft’s case that we need to evaluate: Argument #6: the Kalam Cosmological Argument.  In Part 24, I did an initial analysis of Argument #7, and I pointed out some significant problems with that argument.  Argument #6 has the same set of significant problems:

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

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

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

2. The universe began to exist.

THEREFORE:

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

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

Subject:  The universe…

Predicate:  …began to exist.

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

X is “the universe” IF AND ONLY IF:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This contrasts with the opposite possibility:

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

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

The universe has existed forever.

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

The universe will come to an end.

OR:

The universe will continue to exist forever.

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

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

Time began to exist.

This claim contrasts with the opposite view:

It is NOT the case that time began to exist.

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

Time has existed forever.

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

Time will come to an end.

And we must acknowledge the opposite and more common view:

Time will continue to exist forever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THEREFORE:

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

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

THEREFORE:

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

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

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

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

bookmark_borderGeisler’s Five Ways – Part 19: The Whole Enchilada

In part 11 of this series of posts I reviewed the overall structure of Norman Geisler’s case for the existence of God, the case that he presented, along with coauthor Ronald Brooks, in When Skeptics Ask (hereafter: WSA).  In this present post, I will once again review the overall structure of Geisler’s case, and will summarize a number of key problems with Geisler’s case.
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For a more detailed analysis and critique of Geisler’s case, or of a specific argument in his case, see previous posts in this series:

INDEX: Geisler’s Five Ways

https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2017/05/25/index-geislers-five-ways/
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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.

PROBLEM 1:  Geisler FAILS to provide a clear definition of the word “God”, thus making his whole argument unclear and confusing.
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.
What he really means by the word “God” here is “the creator of the universe” or, more precisely: “the being that caused the universe to begin to exist and that causes the universe to continue to exist now.”  That this is what the word “God” means in his fifth argument can be seen in his comment about the significance of the fifth argument:
The argument from being may not prove that God exists, but it sure does tell us a lot about God once we know that He does exist (by the argument from Creation).  (WSA, p.27)
The “argument from creation” is actually two cosmological arguments: the Kalam cosmological argument, and the Thomistic cosmological argument (to a sustaining cause of the current existence of the universe).  Thus, the antecedent of the fifth argument “If God exists…” really means: “If there is a being that caused the universe to begin to exist and that is also causing the universe to continue to exist now…”
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 to 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, and he continually shifts the meaning of this word at will, with no warning that he is doing so.
PROBLEM 2:  Geisler has only ONE argument for the existence of God, but he mistakenly believes he has FIVE different and independent arguments for the existence of God.
ALL FIVE of Geisler’s arguments for the above five conclusions must be sound in order for his case for the existence of God to be successful.  If just one of those five arguments is unsound, then his case FAILS.  Furthermore, the soundness of all five of those arguments is NOT sufficient to prove that God exists; further arguments are needed.  None of the five basic arguments is sound, and none of the additional arguments that Geisler makes in order to get to the ultimate conclusion that “God exists” is sound, so his case for God is pure unadulterated crap from start to finish.
The basic reason why Geisler needs all five arguments to be sound, is that the concept of God is complex.  God, as understood in Christian theology, has several divine attributes, and so Geisler must show that there is one and only one being that has all of the main divine attributes.
There is no universally agreed upon list of the “main” divine attributes, but we can see what Geisler considers to be the main divine attributes in relation to his lists of God’s characteristics, and in relation to his five basic arguments.  Here is a key comment by Geisler listing several divine attributes:
…God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, infinite, uncreated, unchanging, eternal, and omnipresent. (WSA, p.28)
A key attribute that Geisler left out of this list is “unlimited” (see WSA, p.27 & 28).
In view of his five basic arguments, Geisler implies that God also has the following key attributes or characteristics:

  • God caused the universe to begin to exist.
  • God causes the universe to continue to exist now.
  • God designed the universe.
  • God produced the laws of morality.
  • God is a necessary being.

Geisler’s description of God includes more than a dozen different divine attributes.  The existence of such a being cannot be established on the basis of just one simple argument.  That is why Geisler needs ALL FIVE of his basic arguments to be sound, plus a number of other additional arguments, in order for his case for the existence of God to be successful.  If any one of his five arguments is unsound, then his case FAILS. If one of his additional arguments is unsound, then his case FAILS.  Geisler’s case depends on the soundness of MANY (about a dozen) different arguments.  If one of those MANY arguments is unsound, then Geisler’s case for God FAILS. As far as I can tell, none of his arguments are sound.
PROBLEM 3: Geisler makes a confused and mistaken distinction between proving the existence of God and proving the existence of a being with various divine attributes.
Geisler represents his case as consisting of two main phases: first he proves that “God exists”, and next he proves that God has various divine attributes:
The first question that must be addressed in pre-evangelism is, “Does God exist?”  The second question is very closely related to the first: “If God exists, what kind of God is He?”  (WSA, p.15)
This argument [his Thomistic cosmological argument] shows why there must be a present, conserving cause of the world, but it doesn’t tell us very much about what kind of God exists.  (WSA, p.19)
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? (WSA, p.26)
The argument from being may not prove that God exists, but it sure does tell us a lot about God once we know that He does exist (by the argument from Creation).  (WSA, p.27)
This is completely idiotic and ass-backwards.  In order to prove that “God exists”, one must prove that there exists a being who has various divine attributes (e.g. all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, eternal, etc.).
Proving that there is a thing or being that caused the universe to begin to exist is NOT sufficient to prove that “God exists”.  Proving that there is a thing or being that is causing the universe to continue to exist now is NOT sufficient to prove that “God exists”.  Proving that there is a being who designed the universe (or some aspect of the universe) is NOT sufficient to prove that “God exists”.  The concept of God in Christian theology is a complex concept that implies a unique being who possesses MANY different divine attributes.  Thus proving that “God exists” in the context of a discussion about the truth of the Christian religion requires that one prove the existence of a being who possesses MANY different divine attributes.
Geisler is free to reject the Christian religion if he wishes, and  he is free to reject the traditional Christian concept of God as well.  He is free to invent his own personal concept of God, and to argue for the existence of that particular idiosyncratic God.  But if he wants to dump Christian theology and create his own new religion, then he needs to be very clear that this is what he is doing, and he would also need to provide a clear alternative definition or analysis of what he means by the word “God”, so that nobody would confuse Geisler’s new idiosyncratic concept of God with the traditional Christian concept of God.
Geisler, however, presents himself as a defender of the traditional Christian faith, so he clearly has no interest in inventing a new concept of God.  In the context of presenting apologetic arguments in support of the Christian faith, when Geisler asserts that “God exists”, he implies that there exists a being who has MANY (or most) of the divine attributes that Christian theologians have traditionally ascribed to God.  Therefore, in order for Geisler to prove that “God exists”, he must prove that there exists exactly ONE being who possesses MANY (or most) of the divine attributes that Christian theologians have traditionally ascribed to God.  He cannot prove that “God exists” without proving the existence of a being who, for example, is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, eternal, the creator of the universe, etc.
PROBLEM 4: The conclusions of Geisler’s five basic arguments are UNCLEAR and AMBIGUOUS, leading to multiple fallacies of EQUIVOCATION by Geisler.
The first order of business is to clarify the conclusions of Geisler’s five basic 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 a clear and accurate understanding of what they imply:

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 part or aspect of the universe. 

4a. There existed (in the past) at least one supreme Lawgiver who produced  at least some of the laws of morality.

5a. If there is (or ever was) a being that is (or was) the most perfect Being possible, then that being must always exist and cannot not exist.

Geisler provides dubious or unsound arguments for these five conclusions.  Furthermore, Geisler is very sloppy and unclear in his thinking, and so he infers significantly stronger conclusions that clearly do NOT follow logically from his five basic arguments:

1b. The entire universe was caused to begin to exist by EXACTLY ONE being (other than the universe and the beings that are part of the universe).

2b. The current existence of the entire universe is caused by EXACTLY ONE currently existing being (other than the universe and the beings that are part of the universe).

3b. There is EXACTLY ONE Great Designer who designed every part and aspect of the universe.

4b. There is EXACTLY ONE supreme lawgiver who produced all of the laws of morality.

5b. IF there is a being who caused the universe to begin to exist and who also causes the universe to continue to exist now, THEN that being must always exist and cannot not exist.

PROBLEM 5:  Because Geisler consistently FAILS to show that there is EXACTLY ONE being of such-and-such kind, he cannot prove that  “the cause of the beginning of the universe” is the same being as “the cause of the current existence of the universe” or as “the designer of the universe” or as “the moral lawgiver”.  
Geisler’s five arguments leave open the possibility that there were MANY beings involved in causing the beginning of the universe, and MANY beings involved in causing the continuing existence of the universe, and MANY beings who designed different parts and aspects of the universe, and MANY moral lawgivers who produced different moral laws.
Because the “divine attributes” are distributed differently among these different kinds of beings, Geisler cannot show that there is just ONE being who possesses ALL of the various divine attributes.  Furthermore, since the function of a particular kind of being could be spread out among MANY beings, we cannot infer that the required power or ability exists to a high or unlimited degree in any one such being.  If, for example, a team of one thousand beings worked together to design the human brain, then there might well have been no being who had enough knowledge or intelligence to design the human brain by itself.
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 to begin to exist is very powerful.
  • Whatever caused the universe to begin to exist is very intelligent.
  • Whatever caused the universe to begin to exist 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”.
PROBLEM 6:  Geisler simply ASSUMES without providing any reason or argument that the (alleged) being that caused the beginning of the universe is the same being as the (alleged) being that designed the universe, and that the (alleged) being that caused the beginning of the universe is the same being as the (alleged) being that produced moral laws.
A being that causes a universe to begin to exist is NOT necessarily the being that designed the universe; design and manufacturing are two separate functions in most companies that make products.  Making something is NOT the same as designing something.
The laws of nature could have been created by one being, while the laws of morality could have been created by a different being. There is no reason to believe that the cause of the existence of the universe is the same as the designer of the universe or the same as the moral lawgiver.
Because Geisler has NOT proven that these beings are all the same being, he cannot ascribe these various personal attributes (powerful, intelligent, and good) to just one being.  But in order to prove that God exists, he must show that there is ONE being who possesses all three of these personal attributes in an unlimited way, a being that is all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good.
 
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.  As I argued above, what he actually means something like this:

  • If there is a being that caused the universe to begin to exist (in the past) and that also causes the universe to continue to exist (right now), then that being is a necessary being.

PROBLEM 7:  Geisler illogically shifts from the claim that a perfect being must be a necessary being to the assumption that a being that caused the universe to begin to exist must be a necessary being.  This is an INVALID inference.
There is no reason to believe that a cause of the beginning of the universe must be a “perfect being”.  Let’s grant for the sake of argument that a “perfect being” must be a necessary being.  The question then becomes, “Does a perfect being exist?”
Geisler believes he has proven that there is a being that caused the universe to begin to exist, but that tells us nothing about whether a perfect being exists.  The fact that the universe is finite and imperfect suggests the opposite conclusion, namely that the being that caused the beginning of the universe (if there were such a being) is something less than a perfect being.   In any case, Geisler has provided no reason to think that the cause of the beginning of the universe was a perfect being, so he has provided no reason to believe that there exists a perfect being, and thus Geisler has provided no reason to believe that there 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.

PROBLEM 8: In his reasoning about the implications of the concept of a “necessary being”, Geisler confuses different senses of the verb “to be” leading to INVALID inferences about the implications of the concept of a “necessary being”.
We see this confusion in Geisler’s reasoning in support of the conclusion that a necessary being must be unchanging:
We said already that necessary existence means that He [God] cannot not exist–so He has no beginning and no end.  But it also means that He cannot ‘come to be’ in any other way.  He must be as He is necessarily.  He can’t become something new.  That removes all change from His being–He is unchanging.  (WSA, p.27)
The expression “come to be” is clearly AMBIGUOUS.  It can refer to something coming into existence, or it can refer to something undergoing a change in an attribute or characteristic.  The concept of a “necessary being” implies that the thing or being in question did not come into existence, will not cease to exist, and cannot cease to exist.  This concept does NOT imply that ALL of the characteristics or attributes of such a thing or being must remain unchanged.
An apple can change from being green to being red; this does NOT involve the apple coming into existence or ceasing to exist.  The apple continues to exist through the change in its color.  An apple can “come to be red” even though the apple previously existed and continues to exist.  Thus, the apple itself does NOT “come to be” when it changes color from green to red.
Geisler confuses and conflates two different meanings of the expression “come to be”.   The claim that an apple “came to be red” implies NOTHING about the apple coming to exist.  An apple can “come to be red” even if the apple has always existed, and will always exist.  The fact that some of the attributes of an apple can change, does NOT imply that the apple began to exist, nor that the apple will cease to exist.  Geisler draws an INVALID inference based on the AMBIGUITY of the expression “come to be”; he commits yet another fallacy of EQUIVOCATION in this crappy bit of reasoning.
The same sort of confusion occurs again in Geisler’s reasoning in support of the view that a necessary being must have unlimited attributes:
Because of His [God’s] 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. (WSA, p.28)
If something is a “necessary being”, that just means that it has existence in a necessary way; it does NOT mean that it has all of its attributes or characteristics in a necessary way.  Geisler again confuses the existence of something being necessary with its possession of its attributes being necessary.  The necessity of attributes does NOT logically follow from the necessity of a thing’s existence.
Geisler contradicts himself a few pages later, by implying that God’s attribute of being “the creator of the universe” is NOT a necessary attribute or characteristic:
…He [God] must be all that He is.  All that is in God’s nature is necessary, but anything that He does extends beyond His nature and is done by His free will.  One cannot even say that it was necessary for Him to create.  (WSA, p.31)
But if it was NOT necessary that God create the universe, then the divine attribute of being “the creator of the universe” is merely a contingent attribute, not a necessary attribute, and therefore God does NOT possess this particular attribute (of being the creator of the universe) “in a necessary way”.   Geisler clearly contradicts his earlier assertion that God “can only have whatever He has in a necessary way.”
Geisler then uses the conclusions from Phase 2 (the cause of the universe is very powerful, very intelligent, and morally good) along with the conclusion of Phase 3 (the cause of the universe is a necessary being) in combination with the conclusions from Phase 4 (a necessary being is unchanging, infinite, eternal, omnipresent, and if a necessary being is powerful, intelligent, and good then it must be all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good) in order to infer this conclusion:

  • Whatever caused the universe to begin to exist is an unchanging, infinite, eternal, and omnipresent necessary being, that is all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly 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.

Geisler’s argument for this conclusion is based on the following premise:

  • If being A is an unlimited being and being B is an unlimited being, then we cannot tell being A apart from being B.

PROBLEM 9: Geisler’s assumption that two unlimited beings would be indistinguishable from each other is FALSE and it also contradicts a basic Christian dogma.
Unlimited beings share many unlimited attributes, but one unlimited being can have an attribute that differs from another unlimited being, thus making it possible to distinguish the two beings as different and separate beings.
For example, since the attribute of being “the creator of the universe” is, according to Geisler (WSA, p.31), a logically contingent attribute of God, it is possible for there to exist both an unlimited being that is “the creator of the universe” and also an unlimited being that is NOT “the creator of the universe”.  Since these two beings would have at least one attribute that they don’t share, it would be possible to distinguish between these two unlimited beings.
Furthermore, according to traditional Christian doctrine, God consists of three different persons, but each of those persons is an unlimited person.  Although these three persons are unlimited, according to traditional Christian belief, it is possible to distinguish between these three persons: one is “the Father”, another “the Son”, and the third is “the Holy Spirit”.   It is logically inconsistent to allow that there can be three distinguishable unlimited persons, but at the same time to insist that there cannot possibly be two or more distinguishable unlimited beings.
In the case of the Trinity,  Christians believe that there are specific unique attributes possessed by each of the persons of the Trinity that make it possible to distinguish one from another.  But this implies that one unlimited person can possess an attribute that differs from another unlimited person.  If so, then this implies that one unlimited being can possess an attribute that differs from another unlimited being.  Clearly, the attribute of being “unlimited” does NOT dictate every attribute possessed by such a person or being.
 
PHASE 6: GOD EXISTS
Although Geisler never provides a definition of the word “God”, it is fairly clear that his concept of God 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.
PROBLEM 10:  Geisler has adopted a Thomistic concept of God, but this Thomistic concept of God is INCOHERENT, making it a necessary truth that “It is NOT the case that God exists.”
On the above Thomistic definition of “God”, God is both a person and an absolutely unchanging being.  But a person can make choices and decisions and perform actions and a person can communicate with other persons.  Something that is absolutely unchanging cannot make choices and decisions and perform actions, nor can such a thing communicate with other persons.  The idea of a person who is an absolutely unchanging being is INCOHERENT, it contains a logical self-contradiction.  Therefore, on this definition of “God” it is logically impossible for it to be the case that “God exists”.  The claim “God exists” would be a logically necessary falsehood, given Geisler’s concept of God.

bookmark_borderAn Experiment in ‘Steelmanning’: Let’s Try to Formulate a Good Argument from Cosmology Against Naturalism

In the spirit of my last post, I think it would be interesting to engage in some inquiry about whether the kalam cosmological argument is onto something. Rather than try to repair the kalam cosmological argument as it stands, I think it would be interesting to channel Richard Swinburne or Paul Draper and see if there is a good F-inductive argument against naturalism based on known facts in cosmology.
Here’s a quick refresher on notation:
Pr(x): the epistemic probability of any proposition x
Pr(x | y): the epistemic probability of any proposition x conditional upon y
Pr(|x|): the intrinsic probability of any proposition x
“>!”: “is much more probable than”
“>!!”: “is much, much more probable than”
B: background information
T: theism
N: naturalism
E: The expansion of our universe had a beginning.
Here is the relevant background information:
B1. Our universe exists.
B2. Our universe is expanding.
And here is the F-inductive argument:
1. E is known to be true, i.e., Pr(E) is close to 1.
2. N is not intrinsically much more probable than T, i.e., Pr(|N|) is not much greater than Pr(|T|).
3. Pr(E | T & B) >! Pr(E | N & B).
4. Other evidence held equal, N is very probably false, i.e., Pr(N | B & E) !< 0.5.
Notice that this arguments includes in the background information (B1) the fact that our universe exists. By itself, B1 is evidence favoring naturalism over theism. This argument–and premise (3) in particular–says, “Given that our universe exists and is expanding, the fact that its expansion had a beginning is more favorable on theism than on naturalism.” So this argument starts with the general fact which is the topic of the argument from physicality (our universe exists), and attempts to argue that, given the general fact, a more specific fact about cosmology favors theism over naturalism.
Let’s assume that (1) and (2) are true. Can anyone come up with a good reason or reasons to believe (3)?
Please discuss in the combox.