Kreeft’s Case for God – Part 14: Evaluation of Argument #2

ANALYSIS OF ARGUMENT #2

In Part 13, I clarified and analyzed the logical structure of the Argument from Efficient Causality, Argument #2 in Kreeft’s case for God.  Here is the clarified version of Argument #2:

1a. IF there is no thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, THEN all things need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist.

2a. IF all things need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist, THEN it is impossible that something exists right now.

THEREFORE:

3a. IF there is no thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, THEN it is impossible that something exists right now.

A. It is NOT the case that: it is impossible that something exists right now. 

THEREFORE:

5a. It is NOT the case that: there is no thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused.

THEREFORE:

6a. There is at least one thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, AND there is exactly one thing on which all things that need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist are dependent for their existence right now.

C. IF there is at least one thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, AND there is exactly one thing on which all things that need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist are dependent for their existence right now, THEN God exists.

THEREFORE:

7a. God exists.

 

EVALUATION OF ARGUMENT #2

We have seen this movie before.  The main problem with Argument #2 is the same as the main problem with Argument #1 the single most important premise in the argument is left UNSTATED and UNSUPPORTED.  Specifically, Kreeft fails to state the premise that links the sub-conclusion (6a) to the conclusion that God exists, (7a).  Kreeft does not bother to explicitly state the most important premise in this argument:

C. IF there is at least one thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, AND there is exactly one thing on which all things that need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist are dependent for their existence right now, THEN God exists.

I provided (C) in order to complete the logic of Kreeft’s argument.

When Aquinas presented his case for God, MOST of his arguments are in support of premise (C), or of similar premises that link the existence of some abstract metaphysical being to the existence of God, to God as conceived of in Christian theology.  About 80% of the arguments in Aquinas’s case for God are attempts to prove that an abstract metaphysical being (such as an “unmoved mover” or an “uncaused cause of the present existence of all other things”) must have various divine attributes (such as being eternal, simple, immaterial, perfect, good, intelligent, all-knowing, loving, everlasting , etc.).

Kreeft does not mention premise (C) and provides no supporting arguments for (C).   Since this is the single most important premise in Argument #2, and since it is a highly controversial premise which requires several arguments to justify it, and since Kreeft makes no effort to justify (C), Argument #2 is clearly FAILS, just like Argument #1.

The second most important premise in Argument #2 is (6a), and unlike (C), Kreeft provides an argument in support of (6a):

5a. It is NOT the case that: there is no thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused.

THEREFORE:

6a. There is at least one thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused, AND there is exactly one thing on which all things that need a present cause outside of themselves in order to exist are dependent for their existence right now.

But this argument is INVALID, at least it is not formally valid.  It has this logical structure:

It is NOT the case that: There is no thing that has attribute A.

THEREFORE:

There is at least one thing that has attribute A, AND there is exactly one thing that has attribute B.

The only conclusion that can be inferred from (5a) is the conclusion in the first clause of (6a):  “There is at least one thing which is such that its present existence is uncaused.”  The second clause of (6a) does NOT follow from (5a).  One cannot infer that “there is exactly one thing on which all things that need a present cause outside of themselves in  order to exist are dependent for their existence right now.”   For one thing, (5a) does not imply that there is EXACTLY ONE THING, at least not in any obvious way.  One must provide some significant bit of reasoning to infer that there is EXACTLY ONE THING of a certain sort, from a claim that only asserts that there is AT LEAST ONE thing of a certain sort.  The original statement of premise (6) by Kreeft used the word “something” ambiguously in order to make the inference from (5a) to (6a) seem legitimate:

So there must be something uncaused, something on which all things that need an efficient cause of being are dependent. (HCA, p.51)

But clarifying the meaning of premise (6) reveals the shift in quantification and the INVALIDITY of this inference.

There are a few other problems with the inference from (5a) to (6a).  First, the fact that something HAS a cause of its present existence does NOT imply that it NEEDS a cause of its present existence, at least this is NOT a formally valid inference:

X has a Y.

THEREFORE:

X needs a Y. 

If I HAVE a solid gold statue of Donald Trump, that does not mean that I NEED a solid gold statue of Donald Trump.  If I HAVE a three-week old slice of pizza that has mold growing on it, that does not mean that I NEED that furry slice of pizza.  If I HAVE a malignant tumor in my brain, that does not mean that I NEED a malignant tumor in my brain.  At the very least, Kreeft should justify the shift from HAVING a cause of present existence to NEEDING a cause of present existence.  Premise (5a) does not mention anything about NEEDING to have a cause.  Note: this objection applies directly to premise (1a).

Second, premise (5a) only talks about whether a thing has a cause of its “present existence”, it says nothing about whether that cause must exist simultaneously with the “present existence” that it causes.  This is another shift that Kreeft fails to justify.  This is NOT a formally valid inference:

Something Y caused X to have (at time T1) attribute A.

THEREFORE:

Something Y caused (at time T1) X to have attribute A.

My father caused me to have (at this time, now) blue eyes.  But my father’s causing of my blue eyes did NOT occur now.  It occurred several months before I was born, at my conception.  So, the causing of an attribute of X can occur before that attribute is manifested, and the attribute can continue to be possessed by X, long after the cause of that attribute ceases to exist.

It seems possible, theoretically, for the cause of thing X’s existence at time T2 to be caused by something that existed earlier, at time T1, but that no longer exists at time T2.  Causes can precede effects in time, it would seem.  So, Kreeft at least needs to argue against the possibility of a cause of the present existence of X  being something that no longer exists at the moment of time in question.

A third problem with the inference from (5a) to (6a) is that having a need for a cause of existence at one time, does NOT imply having the same need at another time, at least this is not a formally valid inference:

A thing X exists at time T1, and X needs a cause of its existence at time T1.

THEREFORE:

If that thing X also exists at time T2, then X needs a cause of its existence at time T2.

If I need to fly to San Francisco today, that does not mean that I need to fly to San Francisco tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, or next week.  If I need to have my wisdom teeth extracted this week and I have this extraction performed, that does not mean that I will need to have them extracted again next week, or the week after that, or next year.  People and animals and plants and things can have needs at one time that they don’t have at some other time.  So, if there is a thing that “needs a cause of its present existence” right now, that does not imply that it will need a cause of its present existence ten minutes from now, or an hour from now, or a week from now, even if it continues to exist.  What a thing needs can change over time.

There are many problems and doubts about the VALIDITY of the inference from (5a) to (6a), and thus Kreeft should have provided an extensive justification of this inference and responses to these apparent problems with this inference.  This is a dubious inference that Kreeft has FAILED to adequately justify and support, and so the second most important premise in Argument #2 is supported by what appears to be an INVALID inference.

Argument #2 clearly FAILS, because Kreeft fails to state or to support the single most important premise of the argument, namely premise (C), and because Kreeft supports the second most important premise of the argument with a a dubious inference that appears to be invalid, namely the inference from (5a) to (6a).

So, I conclude that the first two arguments of Kreeft’s case for God are CRAP.  Presumably, these are arguments that Kreeft believes to be among the strongest and best arguments for the existence of God.  Since the very first two arguments of the first ten arguments are both crap, and since we know that all of the last ten arguments in Kreeft’s case are crap, we can reasonably infer that the remaining eight arguments are probably crap too, and that Kreeft’s entire case is a SPOC (Steaming Pile of Crap).

 

THE THREE REMAINING ARGUMENTS FROM AQUINAS

I can see right now that the next three arguments in Kreeft’s case (the remaining arguments from Aquinas) are ALL going to be CRAP, because it is obvious that Kreeft is clueless about what is needed in order to make a strong and solid argument for the existence of God.

Kreeft is under the delusion that the concept of an “unmoved mover” is practically the same as the concept of “God”, and that the concept of a “first uncaused cause of the existence of all other things” is practically the same as the concept of “God”.  But Aquinas had no such delusions.  And Edward Feser has no such delusions, because his summary of the Argument from Change shows that the bulk of the argument by Aquinas occurs AFTER arriving at the sub-conclusion that there is an “unchanging changer”.

Because Kreeft is clueless about what is required to provide a strong and solid argument for the existence of God, and because he has failed to recognize the single most important premise in two of Aquinas’s arguments for God, it is almost certain that he will keep making the same blunder with the remaining arguments from Aquinas.

I’m going to take a brief look at Arguments #3, #4, and #5, just to verify that Kreeft continues to make the same error.  I’m almost certain that he does.  If he does repeat this same error for those next three arguments, there is little point in looking at the details of those arguments, because failing to state and failing to support the single most important premise of an argument, means that Kreeft has clearly FAILED to provide a strong and solid argument for the existence of God.

In all likelihood, I will quickly toss out Arguments #3, #4, and #5, and will then move on to examine Arguments #6 through #10.

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