The thing that made the things for which there is no known maker

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That’s an Australian accent, I think.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11399828220100913111 UnBeguiled

    I was about 12 the first time I heard a cosmological argument. I did not know about “begging the question” or “special pleading”, but I knew the argument was idiotic, even though I did not know the labels for the flawed logic.

    I also had the feeling that a person who makes such an argument has something seriously wrong with his brain function.

    What does it say about us as a species, that these “arguments” persist? I find it very strange.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03034292023591747601 PersonalFailure

    Yeah, I was about 10-12 when I realized that argument was silly at best. I couldn’t put why into words, though. Then I took my first philosophy course (intro logic) at 19, and practically leaped up screaming “Hallelujah!”

    Which would have been wildly inappropriate at best.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11399828220100913111 UnBeguiled

    I remember exactly how the conversation went:

    Him: God has to exist because something had to create the universe.

    Me: But then what created God?

    Him: God has always existed, so he doesn’t need a creator.

    Me: Uh . . . don’t you see how idiotic that is?

    Him: No.

    —————–

    ALL cosmological arguments – Kalam, first cause, contingency, whatever – define God with special attributes to “solve” the question asked.

    I think I may be as puzzled by the arguments as I am by all the ink spilled refuting them. (See, here I am doing it myself!)

    It seems to me, this little cartoon should shame the apologists into shutting up and withdrawing all their idiocy. Craig should issue a public retraction of Kalam.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00203311711885538229 Daniel A. Wang

    “ALL cosmological arguments – Kalam, first cause, contingency, whatever – define God with special attributes to ‘solve’ the question asked.”

    Philosophers of religion quite widely agree on what theism would entail, so there’s nothing “special” about this. The real problem lies in the fact that the argument does not, in fact, establish theism even if successful (all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing, and so forth).

    On the other hand, if one can argue via the cosmological argument precisely that a cause without a beginning is required of a universe with a beginning, or that the contingent universe exists because of a necessary being, this is certainly a step away from naturalism at the very least.

    Also, I can’t think of anyone who would seriously argue that everything that exists requires a cause. *That* would obviously have to include God, if God exists.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07469622832845033996 Not My God

    Hi,
    I couldn’t find any direct contact info, so I hope you don’t mind if I just leave a comment.
    Sarah Trachtenberg here, a fellow atheist/skeptic blogger; I put a link to your site on my blog and would love it if you could do the same. Just for fun, God is Pretend and I are having a Christian Kitsch contest and I’d love it if you could spread the word to your readers. Happy Vernal Equinox,
    Yours,
    Sarah

    http://www.sarahtrachtenberg.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11399828220100913111 UnBeguiled

    Mr. Wang wrote:

    Philosophers of religion quite widely agree on what theism would entail, so there’s nothing “special” about this.

    I acknowledge that there is some overlap concerning the omni-widgets theologians apply to gods. My point was that frequently the widget is post hoc obscure jargon employed solely to exempt their god from some general rule.

    An easy example is when WLC argues at great length that an ‘actual’ infinity is impossible, but then describes his creator god as existing ‘timelessly’ prior to creation, thus using verbal hocus pocus to avoid arguing against himself.

    Not that I wish to get mired in that metaphysical fog, but rather to explain that I was using the word ‘special’ because the fallacy is called special pleading.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00509113813051774038 Mister.Rao

    Fantastic debates on secularism from RRI 2009
    Interesting ‘debates’ and even more interesting roundtables.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/cultuurwetenschap

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12968634190280933116 Luke

    Hey, are any of you guys on reddit? If so, I want to friend you. If not, sign up real quick and I will friend you. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    Personally I have no problem with the idea of an uncaused cause. I mean the alternative would be an actual infinity which presents a lot of conceptual problems. I think that “turtles all the way down” does not make much sense. So I have no problem with the idea that there is a rock bottom to reality, that reality is based on some brute facts, or, to put it differently, that there is an ultimate, overarching and irreducible explanation to existence. I think this far both the typical naturalistic and theistic worldviews agree.

    The tricky part for the cosmological argument is to show that this uncaused cause is personal rather than mechanical. I have heard William Craig argue thus:

    1. As part of what exists is time, and as an actually infinite past time makes little sense, the uncaused cause must be timeless (for it causes time into existence so it can’t itself exist in time).

    2. We know of only two kinds of thing that are timeless, namely abstract objects (such as mathematical objects) and minds.

    3. Abstract objects have no causal power so the uncaused cause can’t be an abstract object.

    4. Therefore the uncaused cause must be a mind.

    It seems to me that the weakest premise here is #2. First of all it is not clear to me in what way we “know” that a mind can be timeless. After all, our mind certainly isn’t. Even assuming that a mind can be timeless, how do we know that there aren’t other kinds of thing that are timeless and have causal power? A naturalist may suggest that reality is based on a mechanical substratum with precisely these properties.

    So even though I think that the cosmological argument does have some merit in the sense that it illuminates part of what one can reasonably believe about reality, I don’t think it has much merit in the theism versus naturalism debate.


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