Kalam III: The very brief part that actually argues for God

Now that I’ve argued that Craig has no good arguments for premise (2) of Kalam (at least not reasons he can consistently use without also ruling out God as an explanation for the universe’s beginning),  I could move on to the next argument. But I think Craig’s arguments for the claim that the cause of the universe is God are bad in revealing ways, so let me talk about that.

It’s telling that Craig never works very hard to argue this point. The discussion of Kalam in Reasonable Faith is 55 pages long, and devotes roughly two and a half pages to the topic. Similarly, Craig’s article on Kalam in the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology is 100 pages long, and devotes roughly three pages to the topic.

It’s as if Craig expects his audience to not really need any arguments to conclude the cause of the universe is God. Given how popular sloppy arguments for the existence of God are among believers, he may be right about that.

But the arguments. Craig focuses on arguing that the cause of the universe must be personal. His first argument is that there are two types of explanations, scientific explanations and personal explanations, and because there was nothing before the beginning of the universe, it can’t have a scientific explanation, therefore it must have a personal one.

This argument makes no sense whatsoever. Craig never explains why, if there being nothing before the beginning of the universe is a problem for scientific explanations, it isn’t also not personal ones. Furthermore, he assumes personal explanations are totally separate from scientific ones, when in fact people’s behavior is something we can study scientifically, and the only people we know of depend on something material (brains) for their existence.

Craig’s second argument is similar, and bad for similar reasons. He claims that because the beginning of the universe was the beginning of all time and matter, the cause of the universe’s beginning must be timeless and immaterial, and furthermore:

The only entities we know of which can possess such properties are either minds or abstract objects, like numbers. But abstract objects do not stand in causal relations… Therefore, the transcendent cause of the origin of the universe must be of the order of mind.

The problem with this, of course, is that we don’t actually know there are any timeless, immaterial minds. This argument very nearly assumes God to prove God.

I’m not sure Craig’s last argument is even intelligible, so I’ll quote two full paragraphs of it, to let readers see if they can make sense of it:

Third, this same conclusion is also implied by the fact that we have in this case the origin of a temporal effect from a timeless cause. We’ve concluded that the beginning of the universe was the effect of a first cause. By the nature of the case, that cause cannot have any beginning of its existence or any prior cause. Nor can there have been any changes in this cause, either in its nature or operations, prior to the beginning of the universe. It just exists changelessly without beginning, and a finite time ago it brought the universe into existence. Now this is exceedingly odd. The cause is in some sense eternal and yet the effect which it produced is not eternal but began to exist a finite time ago. How can this be? If the necessary and sufficient conditions for the production of the effect are eternal, then why isn’t the effect eternal? How can all the causal conditions sufficient for the production of the effect be changelessly existent and yet the effect not also be existent with the cause? How can the cause exist without the effect?…

There seems to be only one way out of this dilemma, and that is to say that the cause of the universe’s beginning is a personal agent who chooses to create a universe in time. Philosophers call this type of causation “agent causation,” and because the agent is free, he can initiate new effects by freely bringing about conditions which were not previously present. For example, a man sitting changelessly from eternity could will to stand up; thus, a temporal effect arises from an eternally existing agent. Similarly, a finite time ago a Creator endowed with free will could have willed to bring the world into being at that moment. In this way, the Creator could exist changelessly and eternally but choose to create the world in time. By “choose” one need not mean that the Creator changes his mind about the decision to create, but that he freely and eternally intends to create a world with a beginning. By exercising his causal power, he therefore brings it about that a world with a beginning comes to exist. So the cause is eternal, but the effect is not. In this way, then, it is possible for the temporal universe to have come to exist from an eternal cause: through the free will of a personal creator (pp. 152-154).

I’ve read an exchange between philosopher Wes Morriston and Craig on this part of the argument, and came away even more puzzled. In his reply to Morriston, Craig argues the cause of the universe must be personal because “only a libertarian agent could interrupt the static reign of being of the First Cause sans the universe.”

Here, “libertarian” refers to the libertarian view of free will, which I’ve already criticized. But even if you accept libertarian free will (which I don’t), I still have no idea what it might mean to interrupt a timeless state.

A final issue: at one point in Reasonable Faith, Craig accuses Dennett of “misstating” and “caricaturing” the Kalam argument in his book Breaking the Spell, because Dennett discusses a version of the cosmological argument relying on the premise “Everything that exists must have a cause.”

This accusation is false, another example of Craig misrepresenting his opponents. Dennett never says he was talking about Kalam–I suspect the argument was, rather, a version Dennett frequently encounters from his undergraduates.

Here’s the thing, though: I don’t think Kalam is really much better than the sort of obviously bad cosmological arguments Dennett discusses in Breaking the Spell. 

Craig’s attempt to use the Big Bang to prove God is only a step above saying, “The Big Bang, you can’t explain that!” And only because Craig hides the fallacy by first asking us to consider whether the universe began to exist and then arguing to God in a separate step, avoiding the awkward question of whether we have any reason to prefer God to any of the views Craig dismisses.

Similarly, the arguments Craig gives that the cause of the universe’s beginning must be God are revealingly bad, especially the first two, which very nearly assume an immaterial, timeless being operating outside of any scientific laws in order to prove such a being.

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  • A

    The third argument actually isn’t that bad, and at least for me a new one. Taking out the metaphysical bullshit, I think it reads about as such:

    Assumption: “Before” the Big Bang, there was a constant state (as time doesn’t exist). In this state, the Big Bang must have been possible (as it happened eventually), yet it persisted for an infinite duration (from -infinity to 0) without the Big Bang happening.

    Of course the problem here is the usual: Implicitely, he works with a timescale of (-infinity, infinity), notices a problem and therefore god. Alternatively, they use [0, infinity), get a singularity at 0 and therefore god. The straightforward idea to take (0, infinity) never seems to occur to his kind.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      “Before the Big Bang… time didn’t exist” looks incoherent to me. Then again, I’m not even sure the idea of a beginnig of time (which Craig’s argument requires) is coherent.

      • MNb0

        Why? It’s the dominant view of physicists that time is a feature of our universe, not outside of it.

        • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

          Well, more carefully, it hurts my brain (colloquially speaking), and I think if it turned out we have scientific reasons to think there’s a beginning of time, then we should admit our intuitions aren’t a good guide here (which would ruin what Craig is trying to do).

        • Patrick

          That’s not the problem. It’s the word “before.” It implies time. It’s like saying “north of the north pole, there’s no more planet Earth.”. There is no such spacial location, so it can’t have spacial attributes. Well, there’s no such temporal moment as before the big bang.

        • http://deusdiapente.blogspot.com J. Quinton

          Basically saying “before” the Big Bang is like saying “3 inches away” from the Big Bang.

      • A

        Of course it is incoherent – “before” is a temporal concept, and hence makes little sense in the absence of time here.

        The current understanding in physics is phrased well by MNbO: Time is a feature of the universe. As the universe apparently came into existence a finite time ago, this means that the correct way to look at time is (0, infinity). This means just that there always is a finite amount of past, yet an infinite amount of future, yet there is no “first moment”.

        All the “big bang proves god”-arguments either use (-infinity, infinity) which means there is an infinite amount of both past and future, and then declare that the only thing which could have happened (-infinity, 0] is god, or they use [0, infinity), where the past is finite yet there is a first moment, then they note the singularity at 0 and call that a proof for god.

        • Bob Jase

          I still don’t see why time is supposed to have begun with the Big Bang. Just because we don’t have events time to relate to before doesn’t mean it didn’t exist – the universe in whatever different state(s) it was still existed so time had to exist.

          The fact that the universe didn’t arise from nothing but rather from something unknown produces the illusion of timelessness but its only an illusion.

          • kraut

            Going back towards the big bang we encounter a state of matter that is simply unobservable – time and dimensions are beyond the Planck limit.

            The term Planck scale can also refer to a length scale or time scale.
            Quantity SI equivalent
            Planck time 5.39121 × 10−44 s
            Planck mass 2.17645 × 10−8 kg
            Planck length (ℓP) 1.616252×10−35 m

            The Planck length is related to Planck energy by the uncertainty principle. At this scale, the concepts of size and distance break down, as quantum indeterminacy becomes virtually absolute

          • http://physicalism.wordpress.com/ Physicalist

            The singularity theorems of Hawking and Penrose show that time does not extend past the big bang. These theorems rest on premises that are very plausible given classical physics, but not secure in quantum context. Nonetheless, the best theory of spacetime that we have at the moment tells us that there is no “before the big bang.”

  • MNb0

    I think I do understand what Craig means – it remains a lot of nonsense, stemming from his overheated fantasy. I’d like to point out a few contradictions.

    “a personal agent who chooses to create a universe in time.”
    That personal agent was supposed to be timeless.

    “a man sitting changelessly from eternity could will to stand up”
    Bad analogy. Because of Thermodynamics that man will not be able to stand up after a while.

    “only a libertarian agent could interrupt the static reign of being of the First Cause sans the universe.”
    Thus that agent is not changeless.

  • http://lykex.livejournal.com LykeX

    This whole bit about a timeless agent choosing to create a universe seems to me to be outright nonsense. Choice is a time-bound thing. It implies that at one point (in time) you make a decision that changes things.

    Since Craig is talking about a timeless entity, he clearly can’t mean “choose” in this mundane sense, but then, how does he mean it? What is talking about when he says that the timeless entity chooses to create a universe? What does the word “choose” actually mean in this context?

    Three options:

    1) Craig means “choose” in the conventional sense, which means his argument is self-contradictory. A time-less entity can’t perform a time-bound act.

    1a) If he says “god can transcend this limitation”, then his argument basically boils down to “god works in mysterious ways” and we’re no better off.

    2) Craig means “choose” in some undefined timeless sense, making his argument incomprehensible, since one of his key terms is undefined.

    3) Craig is equivocating between different meanings, which makes his argument fallacious.

  • Mark

    I’ve always found Christians approach to “something can’t come from nothing” frustrating. First I say “something can come from nothing, look at radiation from black hole boundaries”. Then they say “Oh, that’s not really nothing, that’s quantum foam. I mean really nothing, like zip, nada”

    So, can anyone tell me if this evangelical “nothing” actually exists anywhere in the known universe. I would have thought that quantum foam would fill all of reality. If the apolegetic nothing has never been observed to exist, then how do we now what it’s properties are? How do we know something won’t come out of it?

    Chris, I really enjoy your blog, thanks for the writing. Has WLC ever responded to your reviews or arguments?

    • http://lykex.livejournal.com LykeX

      Indeed. The “apologetic nothing”, as you call it, is an incomprehensible concept, by definition, since nothing can be said about it.

      I’d go as far as saying that you can’t actually say that something can’t come from nothing, since the “nothing” in that statement isn’t truly nothing. After all, if it has the quality “can’t produce something”, then it’s not nothing, it’s something.

      True nothing is a meaningless term. It can’t form any part of an argument, since the word doesn’t refer to anything at all. It’s a vacuous term. You might as well say that something can’t come from pip-squiddly-boink.

      • eric

        I tend to think the ‘apologetic nothing’ is comprehensible, but leads to a circular argument.

        “Something arose from nothing” is a problem if you start out with a nothing ruled by a conservation law that says that can’t happen. When Krauss or other physicists point out that the real rules that govern nothing – the rules we have evidence for – allow this, apologists respond by saying that by ‘nothing,’ they mean the nothing-before-rules. But they themselves are using a rule-governed nothing in their premise.

        The need for a causa causans is included in their premise: they have started with a concept of nothing that includes a conservation law which requires a causa causans exist. If you a start with a nothing ruled by different rules (or a nothing ruled by no rules at all) instead, a causa causans is not warranted.

        Or, shorter version: “something can’t come from nothing” is an premised property of their nothing that leads directly to their preferred conclusion.

    • http://lykex.livejournal.com LykeX

      It also relates to the old question “why is there something rather than nothing”. Since we know that something is possible (since we have it now) and we don’t know that nothing is possible (in the sense of absolutely nothing) why would we assume that nothing was the default state? Why do we have to justify “something”, but not “nothing”?

      It leads to the obvious question: Why would we think that there could ever be nothing? Is nothing even an option?

      I don’t see any reason to think so.

    • Aaron

      I had this exact discusion with a theist who tried out the “Something can’t come from nothing!” thing on me. I first asked what he meant by ‘nothing’. He reponded with “A cup that’s half full has something in the bottom and nothing in the top”. Then I pointed out that his ‘nothing’ included air, spacetime, dimensions, weak and strong forces, gravity, light… a whole range of ‘somethings’.

      The issue here is that a true ‘nothing’ can only be defined by what it is not, and the features it does not have. A true ‘nothing’ has no space, no time, no dimensions, no forces. In fact, a true ‘nothing’ has nothing to stop anything, no matter how minor that anything would be, from taking over and replacing ‘nothing’ completely and immediately to the point where none of the ‘nothing’ is left. There would be no time between one ‘something’ and the next ‘something’ even where a ‘nothing’ was not-existing between. There would be no time in which ‘nothing’ could exist (or not) before it would be replaced by ‘something’. The “Nothing can come from nothing” argument simply doesn’t stack up because it conflates the “I expected to see a full cup and and it contained nothing!” everyday use and a very odd concept of a “true” nothing.

      In other words, the real question as far as I can tell is “How is it even possible for there to be nothing rather than something, when anything that is not nothing would necessarily completely triumph over nothing?”

      • ‘Tis Himself

        “Nature abhors a vacuum.”

  • Albert Bakker

    If there exists an unchanging deity and is all there exists then time is not external to it. And there is no way distinguish even for this supposed omniscient deity, between instances belonging to it’s past, present and future. All instances are identical. If all instances are identical nothing is caused and nothing will be effected.
    Suppose however there is a way nevertheless to distinguish between times t(n) and t(n+1) for such a deity. Since there is no earliest time to locate such a deity in the past of t=0 (it has is no beginning to avoid itself being caused), there is no way to ever reach t=0. It doesn’t matter if you mirror the infinity.

  • eric

    FYI, two typos:
    1. “But the arguments.” Should probably be “But first the arguments.”

    2. “it isn’t also not personal ones” should probably be “it isn’t also a problem for personal ones.”

  • http://rockstarramblings.blogspot.com/ Bronze Dog

    I’m just a semi-informed layman, but I’ve occasionally thought of an attempted witticism about time and the Big Bang:

    “The Big Bang wasn’t something coming from nothing. Before the Big Bang, there wasn’t any room for a nothing.”

    Of course, all that’d accomplish is confusion followed by posturing as they tried to interpret it in terms of a pre-made straw man.

    One other thing to comment about irritates me: “Non-material” “Non-temporal” and so on. Mystic woos like Craig are defining something in terms of what it isn’t, not what it is. That just rubs me the wrong way. At least the Hitchhiker’s Guide did it in humorous fashion: “It tasted almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.” “They hung in the air, exactly the way bricks don’t.”

    • Josh R.

      I was actually thinkning of another Adams quote that pretty much invalidates the entire discussion. Maybe invalidate is the wrong word… ‘Removes the necessity of’ is more what I’m going for… Oh yeah, the quote:

      “Time is an illusion. Lunch time doubly so.”

  • eric


    Nor can there have been any changes in this cause, either in its nature or operations, prior to the beginning of the universe.

    This is a very artful dodge. Any Christian theist is (eventually) going to have to defend a God who changes, because Christianity’s God is one that responds to and involves Himself in creation. WLC’s “prior to…” caveat is him giving himself an escape hatch fom deism.

    But it brings about another failure. If our universe allowed this unchanging being to change, other (pre-universe) things could too. Or if they don’t, WLC has to say why. You can’t just say “nothing could change this being! Except the creation of our universe” and not say why that exception is justified. This is another case of WLC presuming the being that he’s trying to prove.

  • jamessweet

    I think the third argument makes some sense, given Craig’s (awful) premises. First of all, all of this is arguing about time without actually articulating what we mean by time. If time is a function of entropy, then talking about time in the absence of physical laws is irrelevant. Craig seems to be assuming that time is something that hangs in the air, sui generis, apart from any referent to physicality or anything else. He views it as an invisible river that is constantly running.

    There are tremendous philosophical and physical problems with this view, but if we take it as a given, then he is right in pointing out that there is a problem with explaining why an eternal phenomenon existing in this uninterrupted invisible river would suddenly cause a new thing to happen. It’s a nonsense scenario to begin with, so it’s not really worth answering… but if we do answer it, libertarian free will (which is also nonsense) does fit the bill. I’d stop short of saying it is the only thing that fits the bill (since it’s a nonsense scenario, it’s difficult to establish what the rules are) but it’s a thing that fits the bill.

    It’s like talking about what would defeat Superman. Superman doesn’t exist, nor does kryptonite… but within the rules we seem to have established for Superman, kryptonite defeats him. It’s difficult to argue that it’s the only thing that defeats him, because Superman — being nonsense, and all — does not have well-defined rules. But to the extent that we can deduce the rules of this Superman nonsense, okay, yeah, kryptonite, sure.

    In short: What Craig is establishing with that third argument is that in the fictional nonsense world he has concocted, libertarian free will is a reasonable plot device for resolving an apparent contradiction in the story. There are many other deeper problems with the story that mean it can’t possibly be true, but there’s this glaring surface problem, and libertarian free will (which has its own attendant deeper problems) resolves the surface problem in a way that makes the story superficially believable — and what I mean by superficially believable is that it doesn’t jar your suspension of disbelief. Again analogizing to Superman, we can suspend disbelief that Superman can fly, but it is much harder to suspend disbelief in regards to the weird ending of Superman I. We can say to ourselves, “Okay, we know people can’t fly, but in this universe that has been constructed, we can accept that it ‘makes sense’ for Superman to fly. But it does not make sense that flying around the world reverses time!” That’s what Craig is doing here.

    The reason it doesn’t make sense to you is because you have (rightly) rejected his entire narrative even before getting to that point.

  • anteprepro

    Wow. For the first one, I’m pretty sure when he says “scientific explanation” he really means “natural”. So if an explanation doesn’t occur within “nature” it must be done by a “personal” agent! Yeah, so basically both argument 1 and 2 presume that supernatural and mental are one and the same. The idea that minds are supernatural, something outside the realm of science and the universe, is almost as ridiculous as the idea that minds are the only possible form the supernatural (i.e. timeless and immaterial) could take (aside from abstractions, of course). It’s also entertaining that his proof on this matter is obtained entirely by setting up poorly supported dichotomies, and subsequently poorly ruling out one option and therefore simply assuming that other arbitrary option must be the answer. Imagine if the second options could be ruled as easily as the first! What would happen then? Oh well, it will never happen…
    *glances up at main post and covers eyes, plugs ears, chants “lalalala, I can’t hear you”*

    As for the last argument:
    What I love about this argument is that Craig’s “can’t have an infinite amount of time before an event” still applies, but to Supernatural Creative Agent X’s decision to get off its ass and Create now instead of to the universe itself. Apparently that argument was only a concern when God was off the table. As soon He is on the table though, having an infinite past is hunky-dory. I guess the supernatural can be anything you want it to be (unless you want it to be non-mental, then you’re just being crazy). I also love that a choice isn’t considered a “change”. I mean, for us mere mortals, choices and actions require neurological activity and physiological movement, all contingent upon chemical and electrical activity at base and some sort of larger biological functioning. But apparently either those don’t count as “changes” because [semantic argument] or First Cause is concluded to be a mind with the capacity for choice and action as people despite being nothing like the minds or people we regularly experience. If the latter is the case, Craig must have mad skills to deduce that this thing is a mind at all, given how different is from the minds that we know even the slightest amount about.

    So, the rest of the Kalam was basically just a shaggy dog story, huh? A big, long treatise on how the universe MUST have a beginning and a cause, 50 to a 100 pages, tackling all sorts of scientific theories and even attempting to do battle with mathematics. And at the end, after merely establishing a First Cause, there is a tacked on “and that First Cause must be a mind, because I can’t think of alternatives, therefore God”. That’s just fucking hilarious. It was a long build-up for the punchline, but it was almost, nearly worth it.

  • http://physicalism.wordpress.com/ Physicalist

    Leibniz would be unhappy with Craig’s assumption of absolute time b/c it violates the principle of sufficient reason. God could have no reason to choose one time rather than another to start the universe.

  • http://www.improbablejoe.blogspot.com Improbable Joe

    My understanding of the “no time before the Big Bang” isn’t that physics literally declared a beginning of time and no time before, but that it is meaningless to talk about before conditions of the current universe were set. There may have been a previous universe with the same space/time conditions, similar but slightly different conditions, completely different conditions, and then something else so completely different that it isn’t even possible to speculate.

    “Isn’t even possible to speculate” is at the heart of one of the big problems with Craig’s little word games. Using words like “timeless” and “immaterial” renders his argument incoherent, because those words don’t actually have meaningful definitions that can be used to advance other ideas. We don’t know of anything that doesn’t have a material component to it, and that doesn’t exist within the confines of time, nor can we say that there’s any way it could exist. So what Craig is doing is fundamentally invoking a mystery in order to explain away another mystery, sort of like explaining Santa’s ability to produce and distribute a world full of toys overnight by crediting elves and flying reindeer.

  • eric

    My understanding of the “no time before the Big Bang” isn’t that physics literally declared a beginning of time and no time before, but that it is meaningless to talk about before conditions of the current universe were set.

    Its sort of both. Sure there might have been something before this universe. But what we refer to as time is this universe’s spacetime, and that seems to have had a beginning. Or at least go back to a point when all bets are off.

    There might even have been something like our spacetime before the ‘all bets are off’ period, but it is a mistake to think of both eras occurring in a greater framework that accords with our common notion of time. THAT is incorrect, regardless of what happened before.

    Chris gets to the heart of the matter when he says (paraphrasing): WLC is trying to build an argument for God on our intuitive understanding of time and space, but we need to admit that our intuitions aren’t a good guide when it comes to these concepts.

    • MNb0

      I totally agree with the last alinea (not that I disagree with the previous ones) and that is exactly the reason why I find the cosmological argument(s) so uninteresting.

  • http://skepticali.blogspot.com Skepticali

    Improbable Joe and Eric touch on my personal view::
    1. Physicists can’t model past a certain point – therefore “Before the Big Bang” is meaningless. For we lay people to attempt explanations is even more meaningless.
    2. “Something” is more probable than “nothing” because “something” has more possible states, whereas “nothing” has one – or zero.

    On the two full paragraph’s of Craig’s argument that Chris quotes in his post, it is chock full of errors in reasoning. I hope Craig’s books, debates and ad hoc utterances are used as examples by teachers of propositional logic, argumentation and rhetoric – it becomes funny the more you see it. His first paragraph alone provides bare assertion (“We’ve concluded that the beginning of the universe was the effect of a first cause”), another bare assertion – and some special pleading (“that cause cannot have any beginning of its existence or any prior cause”). This is also a straw man, since it attempts to explain the first bare assertion. Next, another bare assertion … oh cripes, there’s a pattern here of setting up straw men and explaining them with his preferred solution. I guess you’d call that “crap” – right?

  • Iain Walker

    “For example, a man sitting changelessly from eternity could will to stand up; thus, a temporal effect arises from an eternally existing agent.”

    So is this “eternity” in the sense of an actual infinite past (which Craig was so adamant was an absurdity), or is this “eternity” in the sense of atemporality (in which case this claim is false)? And in which sense of “eternal” is God supposed to exist?

    “In this way, the Creator could exist changelessly and eternally but choose to create the world in time. By ‘choose’ one need not mean that the Creator changes his mind about the decision to create, but that he freely and eternally intends to create a world with a beginning.”

    This doesn’t seem to make much sense either. An agent might exist for an infinitely long time with the intention to perform an action A, but in order to actually perform A at a given time t, must either acquire an additional intention at t to perform A now, or must always have had the intention to perform at at time t. In the first case, this looks like a change of mind (from “I won’t perform A yet” to “I will perform A now”). In the second case, if the agent has always had the intention to perform A at time t, this means that it had the intention to perform A at time t an infinitely long time ago. But then how is “at time t” supposed to be understood? If it’s supposed to be “n seconds from now” where n is some finite number, then A must have been performed an infinitely long time ago, because an infinitely long time ago, the agent intended to perform A after a finite time. On the other hand, if “at time t” is meant to be an infinite time in the future, and the agent always has this exact same intention (to perform A an infinite time in the future), then A is never going to get performed – it will always be an infinite time in the future.

    So it looks as if an agent cannot hold an intention to perform an action at a specified time, such that that intention is held eternally and can actually be realised. At best, it can eternally hold an intention to perform an action at some unspecified time, but must undergo a change of mind from “not yet” to “now” in order to bring it about. But such an agent could not then be said to exist “changelessly”.

    (NB – I’m assuming the temporal sense of eternity here. The atemporal sense just makes Craig’s claim unintelligible.)

    “By exercising his causal power, he therefore brings it about that a world with a beginning comes to exist.”

    What causal power? Even if we allow that Craig’s God might choose to create the universe, this doesn’t tell us how this was brought about. Agent causation isn’t a free-floating explanans, sufficient unto itself. We accept explanations in terms of agent causation as being informative only because we have an extensive background knowledge of agents as things that interact with their environment physically, as things that are part of the world of physical cause and effect, not separate from it. Without this background knowledge, an explanation of the form “X chose to bring about Y” or “X intended Y to happen” actually tells you very little about how Y came to be the case.

  • aziraphale

    “It just exists changelessly without beginning, and a finite time ago it brought the universe into existence. Now this is exceedingly odd.”

    Yes, indeed. But quantum mechanics is also exceedingly odd, yet apparently true.

    It seems that empty space can be changeless (in the sense that all its parameters remain constant) yet matter can appear in it spontaneously by quantum fluctuations. It has even been supposed that the origin of our universe is such a fluctuation.

    This certainly violates our intuitions of causality. But since quantum mechanics obviously works, we may have to give up those intuitions, and with them such arguments as Craig’s.

  • Thomas

    Just another series of false dichotomies set up by those wanting to belive in something more than there is.

    All of these arguments are logical fallacies and a waste of time.

    For all anyone knows time in infinite and matter is not finite.

  • Jason Firestone

    “operate”, “outside”, “create” all require spacetime. It did not exist until THIS universe existed. The rest is all bullshit.
    Just ask Craig “name one property of existence that does not require time”. He’s got nuthin.

  • http://twitter.com/blamer @blamer

    Craig seems to mistake “an easy way to imagine this is…” (a person, a formless void, a miraculous event, a world, … as per Genesis 1-3) with “the explanation the best fits with today’s scientific facts about the Big Bang is…”.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profiles/blogs/william-lane-craig-s-armchair-philosophy?xg_source=activity Wyatt