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

Kreeft’s Case for God – Part #31: Evaluation of Phase 2 Continued July 10, 2018

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).

 

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