Craig and the Kalam (and relativity): Vincent Torley vs Counter Apologist… CA wins.

Craig and the Kalam (and relativity): Vincent Torley vs Counter Apologist… CA wins. July 19, 2013

So in my post, the Part 2 of why Vincent Torley is a Christian, Vincent called into question some of Counter Apologist’s work undermining William Lane Craig’s use of science and metaphysics to try to show that the A-Theory of time is true or that the B-Theory is false.

Craig’s case is this:

He needs time to be absolute, and not relative as science appears to predict and lead to. This means that there must be something called a privileged reference frame (or similar wording) that everything in the universe refers to. However, science appears to prefer relativity such that time is relative depending on the reference point. If twins live on earth and one twin flies off at near the speed of light and returns sometime later, the two clocks that the twins own and keep on them will show different times. There is no overarching time which dictates both paradigms, but individual and relative times for want of a better explanation.

Now remember, Craig appeals to science and scientists who agree with him about an absolute beginning to the universe such that he lauds such science as supporting theology.

Craig needs absolute time for the Kalam to work (I won’t explain this now; check out CA’s excellent videos and posts). But since science does not support this, and appears to support a B-Theory of time, Craig appeals to something called Neo-Lorentzian (NLR) relativity as establishing an absolute time frame. However, NLR is not supported by any scientific data, and nor can it be. It is an unfalsifiable approach. It is supported by an A-Theory of time understanding. And Craig posits an A-Theory of time based on what? Well, according to the closer to truth videos, Craig adheres to the A-Theory of time because it fits better with the existence of God.

HANG ON!!! He uses the Kalam to argue to God, but one of his premises in the Kalam requires a prior commitment to God to establish a major building brick which then allows him to posit an unfalsifiable (unscientific and metaphysical) theory which allows him to posit a premise supposedly based on science!

Wow, that is circular and fallacious!. So, you see, WLC runs into some serious problems. Here is how CA concludes:

What William Lane Craig really wants is for the A-Theory of time to be true (ie. that space and time are absolute), and he wants the evidence we have against that view to be shown to be problematic.  Right now the evidence we have from Special Relativity shows that space and time are relative, not absolute.

To get around this problem Craig endorses the Neo-Lorentzian view, the ultimate punt into metaphysics which states that the question of space and time being relative or absolute is something that in principle can’t be answered by science.

However, Craig would be equally happy to have SME turn out to be true, so that his Neo-Lorentzian view becomes unnecessary.  Incidentally, this is exactly the same kind of excitement he showed when it looked like relativity may have been over turned by undermining the other assumption – that nothing travels faster than the speed of light.  Unfortunately for Craig both efforts to undermine relativity have come up short, so all he can do is make extravagant unfalsifiable assumptions about relativity to try and keep the A-Theory of time as a live option.

The problem of course, is that so far Einstein and the Standard Model have held up, so Craig is left appealing to his unfalsifiable privileged frame to try and pretend the Kalam is a live option in anything but the minds of people who already commit to god’s existence, or an esoteric philosophy of time.

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  • Nice post. What I don’t get about atheists that have debated Craig, is that I’ve never heard a single opponent of his ever use the B-theory of time to refute the Kalam when it’s right there for them, because if the B-theory is true, it’s a knock-down refutation against every cosmological argument.

    • I think because it’s a bit obscure, combined with the fact that it’s an undercutting defeater – it doesn’t really become clear why the B-Theory refutes the Kalam, at least if you get up on a stage after Craig gives his spiel full of rhetoric and don’t spend 10 minutes explaining exactly what the problem is at a very technical level.

      I do think that it can be presented, but after you hit the main problems philosophically and scientifically first, and just point out that Craig is relying on a very minority view of time in philosophy and it’s a view that’s rejected by the vast majority of the scientific community – for good reasons, because all the evidence we can ever have so far shows it’s wrong.

      The main appeal to the Kalam is the fact that it fits with the “Science really proves god must exist!” kind of meme that is big in evangelical apologetics. So by pointing out the argument hinges on things that are at their base levels unscientific, we undermine one of their most popular arguments.

      That said, it doesn’t hit every cosmological argument, the Leibniz Cosmological argument works if you’re on the B-Theory, but that’s easier to refute (I think) and isn’t nearly as persuasive because it lacks appeals to science.

      • Nice job, CA.

        • Daydreamer1

          Hi Jonathan. What exactly is all this A-Theory and B-Theory stuff on about?

          In a relativistic world relative frames of reference rule the roost, but… How old is the universe? Well, 13.7 billion. But space time curvature affects that measurement. As per the twin paradox one can be older than the other. Parts of the universe are at different ages – perhaps by billions of years. So, the universe is 13.7 billion years old relative to what? Well, as I understand it we do it averaged to as flat a space time as we can, i.e. we do it to microwave background radiation. That is our universal reference frame.

          Anyway, can you give me a few lines on A, B Theory and incompatibilities, or do you have a good link?

      • I think a well spoken atheist – perhaps aided with a few power point slides, can easily hammer out the B-theory and how it’s devastating to the kalam in a few minutes or less. Then as Craig tries to counter it in the rebuttal period, the atheist can give more detail or let Craig use his time us to give the detail.

        You know there needs to be a site dedicated to refuting Craig where everything he says in debates and everything on his site is refuted. It should be a site where people can contribute to it if they have a good counter argument against one of his and the site will be a repository of refutations.

        We need this because he’s the loudest apologist online and there needs to be a go-to resource for countering his rhetoric.

  • Vincent Torley

    Hi Jonathan,

    There’s a LOT that’s wrong with Counter-Apologist’s reply to Dr. Craig here. For starters, he equates the A-theory of time with an absolute theory of time, and then goes on to accuse Craig of holding to an absolute theory of time. Both claims are false.

    In his podcast, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/time-and-the-kalam-cosmological-argument (Time and the Kalam Cosmological Argument), Craig discuses absolute (Newtonian) and relative (Leibnizian) theories of time. He points out that these do not correlate with A- and B-theories of time, and then goes on to add: “Leibniz held to a relational view of time, and so do I.” So Craig himself declares that he does not subscribe to an absolute theory of time.

    “So what do we call the A- and B-theories of time, then, if they are not absolute and relative?”, you may be wondering. Craig answers this question in another podcast, at http://www.reasonablefaith.org/god-time-and-creation1 (God, Time and Creation). Here, he refers to “a tensed view (A-theory) or a tenseless view (B-theory).” What Craig accepts is a tensed view of time, not an absolute view. If Counter-Apologist cannot even get this right, then it’s hard to take his critique seriously.

    Second, Counter-Apologist seems to think that Craig holds to a tensed A-theory of time simply because he is trying to prove the existence of God. That’s not true. He rejects the B-theory for an independent reason. He finds its metaphysical implications absurd. Here’s a link to an article by Craig (The Triumph of Lorentz) at http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-triumph-of-lorentz , in which he argues that tachyons (which are allowed by relativity theory) have the absurd implication that in some frames of reference, an effect can occur before its cause. This paradox can be resolved on the other hand if we assume that there is a fundamental reference frame for measuring simultaneity, as the neo-Lorentzian theory does. There’s no circularity in arguing for God on the basis of a theory whose alternatives are all metaphysically nonsensical.

    Third, I find it curious that physicist Dr. Sean Carroll, in a recent blog article for “Discover” magazine criticizing Craig (“Let the universe be the universe” at http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2012/09/25/let-the-universe-be-the-universe/#.UemyN9JkNLo ) never even mentions the A- and B-theories of time, or Craig’s neo-Lorentzian interpretation of special relativity. By the way, Dr. Craig rebuts Dr. Carroll in his post “Sean Carroll’s Reply to the RF Podcast” at http://www.reasonablefaith.org/sean-carrolls-reply-to-the-rf-podcast . Instead, he takes issue with the scientific claim that the universe had a beginning: his answer to the question of whether the universe had a beginning is “Probably not,” while Craig’s is “Probably it did.” Mithani and Vilenkin also say yes in their paper, “Did the Universe have a beginning?” at http://arxiv.org/pdf/1204.4658.pdf . Nothing here about A- and B-theory. So it sounds like Counter-Apologist’s claim that Craig is relying on dubious metaphysics is a bit of a storm in a tea cup.

    Fourth, Craig’s argument could in my opinion be defended even by someone who holds to a B-theory of time. In its most general form (see http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-causal-principle ), the argument runs like this:

    1. If the universe began to exist, then the universe has a cause of its beginning.
    2. The universe began to exist.
    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its beginning.

    A B-theorist could still argue that if the universe has a tenseless beginning – i.e. a finite duration of 13.7 billion years – then it has a contingent property about which we can reasonably ask, “Why does it have that value and not some other one?”, just as we would say that a ball which has a particular diameter has a contingent property, and we might reasonably ask why the ball is that big, and no bigger or smaller. Craig’s argument would then collapse into a special example of the modal (Leibnizian) cosmological argument, which has been ably defended by Professor Paul Herrick in his paper, “Job Opening: Creator of the Universe – A Reply to Keith Parsons (2009)” at http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/paul_herrick/parsons.html . I suggest that you and Counter-Apologist read this paper before “dissing” the modal cosmological argument.

    • Daydreamer1

      I’m generally agnostic on these arguments since our data regarding it doesn’t go far enough.
      I like the speculation of other universes pressing against ours during early expansion to explain some large scale features, but lets face it there are bound to be many unconsidered possibilities – or at least thinking that there are doesn’t seem implausible to me. We need more data and better natural models before we can rule enough out to say that what is untestable is more probable. I think agnosticism on the point is the most reasonable position at the moment. Just like I am agnostic between string theory and quantum loop gravity.
      What distinction, if any, do you make for the difference between the observable universe and that, whatever, that lies beyond the horizon?
      Why, given lack of data either way, are you ruling out infinites in time?
      What do you make of multi-universal theories that feature infinite time?
      What do you make of space-time scenarios where time and space are able to swap?
      What do you make of models that feature more than one time dimension?
      I ask these questions honestly because I do not understand how to approach them in this context.

    • Quickly: A tensed theory of time posits an absolute reference frame, I think that’s where the confusion is. Craig doesn’t agree with how Newton thought time exists independently of space or events, Craig thinks time is in relation to events, hence relational.

      When it comes to tachyons and time, there is a well known aspect of the double-slit experiment where particles can travel backwards in time, and change form. If the past no longer exists, how then can this happen under a tensed view? It seems the neo-Lorentz view is preferred by people like Craig who thinks that everything must conform to our most basic intuitions, and that’s his problem. One reason he gives for the tensed view is :

      The tenseless theory is theologically objectionable, since its claim that God and the universe co-exist tenselessly is incompatible with a robust doctrine of creatio ex nihilo.

      Well yes, that is his circular reasoning. As a typical theist, if it ain’t compatible with god, it must be rejected.

      Sean Carroll is an eternalist and he’s said that many times on many documentaries and his own website: http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2011/09/01/ten-things-everyone-should-know-about-time/

      Sean doesn’t spend a whole lot of time debating theists, he has an actual job to do as a scientist. He doesn’t mention the B-theory probably because he is not used to the tactics of apologists, and he’s not a debater, which is a shame because I’d wish he’d debate more theists.

      He’s currently writing a paper with Vilenkin about the existence of past eternality, overriding the often cited Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorum that Craig loves.

      Your revised cosmological argument is baseless. If the universe is eternal, it never began to exist ontologically, it could never have not existed, all descriptive attributes of the universe would only function as a description of that particular part of the spacetime manifold. There is no place for a creator in this picture.

      Thing is, you cannot logically prove that everything needs a sufficient reason. There might just be some brute facts about our universe or of existence, and you cannot prove otherwise. I think this is because “absolute nothing” cannot exist and is only a concept in our minds.

      • Vincent Torley

        Hi Thinker,

        Very briefly: while Craig posits an absolute reference frame, his theory of time itself is not absolute. CounterApologist should have got that right.

        Re retrocausality: I suggest you have a look at David Ellerman’s physics paper, “A Common Fallacy in Quantum Mechanics: Why Delayed Choice Experiments do NOT imply Retrocausality” at http://www.ellerman.org/a-common-fallacy/ .

        I think the basic intuition that change is real is one not lightly to be dismissed. The block time interpretation implies that it isn’t. If I don’t know that change is real, then I don’t know anything. I can think of nothing more certain.

        I don’t know what paper Dr. Sean Carroll is writing with Dr. Vilenkin, but I do know that Vilenkin is on the record as saying the universe had a beginning, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXCQelhKJ7A .

        You argue that if the universe never began, it could never have not existed. Two comments: (1) That’s bad modal logic. “X had no beginning” implies that it’s NOT TRUE that at some point in the past, X didn’t exist. It DOESN’T imply that it’s NOT POSSIBLE that at some point in the past, X didn’t exist. Putting it simply: NOT-possibly (A and NOT-A) does not warrant our inferring NOT-possibly NOT-A from the mere fact that A. All we can infer is NOT-NOT-A.

        (2) Leaving that aside, the fact that the universe could never have not existed doesn’t guarantee that it will always exist. If a thing is capable of ceasing to exist, then it’s contingent and requires an explanation.

        You give no indication of having read Professor Herrick’s paper. I strongly suggest that you do, It’s meaty, but it’s worth it.

        • Physicist Paul Davies writes on the B-theory, “We do not really observe the passage of time. What we actually observe is that later states of the world differ from earlier states that we still remember. The fact that we remember the past, rather than the future, is an observation not of the passage of time bit of the asymmetry of time.”

          That does not mean there’s no change, there is certainly change in different parts of the block universe. So I think you’re a bit misinformed.

          Yes Vilenkin says our universe had a beginning – or at least a finite amount of time in the past – but he and many other physicists do not think our universe was the beginning of all time, he thinks other universes preceded it which may be infinite into the past.

          1. If something began to exist then we can say that it is possible it didn’t have. If it always existed, it is possible for us to imagine it not existing, but it is not possible that it didn’t. I think what you’re getting at is that the universe does not exist as a necessary object, and because of that, you think it’s contingent, even if it exists eternally. But if there is no need for a creator in an eternal universe, what purpose does the creator have? Why is it necessary? Necessary for what?

          2. Under a b-theory there may be points in time when our universe doesn’t exist there, but it would still exist ontologically at other points, so there would never be the case where our universe does not exist in the ontological sense. It’s like saying Boston doesn’t exist in New York, but it exists ontologically at the “Boston” part of the block universe.

          I’ll look into the paper on retrocausality.

    • Last time you made a bunch of claims about me either being wrong or misrepresenting Craig, I did a point-by-point take down and detailed explanation of how you were either quoting Craig out of context or flat out had the facts wrong.

      Instead of replying to that, or even acknowledging that “oh yeah, Craig does hold that things like Time Dilation and Length Contraction don’t really happen”, you come back with….more out of context quotes by Craig that make it look as though thing are confused when they really are not.

      Honestly this seems to me that you’re just going through Craig’s website to find quotes you think look contradictory to what I’m saying, rather than actually understanding the material.

      Let’s go point by point.

      he equates the A-theory of time with an absolute theory of time

      That’s because A-Theory is absolute when talking about the context of it being “absolute vs. relative”, where as the B-Theory is relative. But let’s look at where YOU actually misquote Craig to try and make a pedantic point.

      You said:

      In his podcast, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/time-and-the-kalam-cosmological-argument (Time and the Kalam Cosmological Argument), Craig discuses absolute (Newtonian) and relative (Leibnizian) theories of time. He points out that these do not correlate with A- and B-theories of time, and then goes on to add: “Leibniz held to a relational view of time, and so do I.” So Craig himself declares that he does not subscribe to an absolute theory of time.

      You literally changed the quote from Craig. He’s talking about “absolute vs. relational” instead of “absolute vs. relative”, absolute has different meanings depending on the context you’re using. The A-Theory (neo-Lorentzian), like the B-Theory (Einstein/Minkowski) are both relational, but the A-Theory is absolute (in terms of space and simultaneity) where as the B-Theory is relative.

      But lets quote Craig from the link you provided no less to see what you did there.

      Craig says:

      Absolute vs. relational time. The article misrepresents these two views of time (which do not correlate with A- vs. B-theories of time). Absolute time is a duration which exists wholly independently of any events. Newton held that even if the universe were annihilated, absolute time and absolute space would still exist. Relational views of time hold that time cannot exist independently of events; temporal relations arise as a result of the occurrence of events. Leibniz held to a relational view of time, and so do I.

      Notice, the word “relative” doesn’t even appear on the page you link to when discussing absolute vs relational.

      What’s even more ironic is that when talking about “absolute vs. relative” in a link you also provided, Craig says the following:

      The Lorentzian interpretation, which like the original Einsteinian interpretation, affirmed the existence of 3-dimensional objects enduring through time but which, unlike the Einsteinian view, affirmed the existence of absolute space and absolute simultaneity, even if we cannot detect them empirically. Clocks and measuring rods in motion relative to the absolute reference frame (the “aether”) run slowly and shrink up as Einstein suggested.

      The A-Theory and B-Theory do refer to tense and tenseless respectively, and I make this exact distinction in my work, but we’re also talking about relative space and relative simultaneity. These aren’t mutually exclusive things.

      That’s not true. He rejects the B-theory for an independent reason. He finds its metaphysical implications absurd.

      First off, you’re not telling the whole story. Let’s quote Craig himself from a link you shared earlier: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/response-to-mccall-and-balashov

      on what I take to be the central and most radical thesis of my book, namely, that the classical concept of time is based on metaphysical, and specifically, theological foundations which are immune to the relativistic critique

      I do acknowledge that Craig also gives metaphysical arguments for the Neo-Lorentizian view, but he admits his main claims are theological.

      I address this stuff here:
      http://counterapologist.blogspot.com/2013/04/video-response-to-youtube-user.html

      The problem of course is that no amount of theological or metaphysical arguments are going to overcome all possible observational evidence. He’s literally making the same moves that Young Earth Creationists move in terms of disregarding all possible observation. Of course that doesn’t mean his metaphysical arguments are any good and that there are other arguments against the A-Theory, this distinction originally came about independently of relativity in philosophy alone.

      Third, the reason Sean Carroll didn’t get into this distinction is probably for two reasons:

      1.) The Kalam fails even on the A-Theory because
      2.) The more important point is that there is no scientific evidence that all of material reality had an absolute beginning.

      Correcting the misconceptions Craig gives about modern cosmology is the larger point (and is also one I’ve made here: http://counterapologist.blogspot.com/2013/01/countering-kalam-no-scientific-evidence.html ).

      That doesn’t mean that the point I”m making here is not also valid.

      Finally, the contingency argument does apply to the B-Theory views, but there are a number of responses to the Principle of Sufficient Reason and that argument even on it’s own terms. That however is another conversation. It’s enough to refute the Kalam and then move on to other arguments.

      • Boom…Thank you CA for taking the time to do that!

        JP

      • Vincent Torley

        Hi CounterApologist,

        You accused me of misquoting Craig, when you wrote: “YOU actually misquote Craig to try and make a pedantic point… You literally changed the quote from Craig.”

        Excuse me, but as anyone can see, in the post above I quoted Craig’s exact words, for all to see, without changing a single letter: “Leibniz held to a relational view of time, and so do I.” Then I added: “So Craig himself declares that he does not subscribe to an absolute theory of time.” Which is perfectly true: he holds to a tensed theory of time. For you to accuse me of misrepresenting Craig on this point is utterly absurd.

        You then quote Craig as saying that he believes in “absolute simultaneity.” Sure he does. But that’s not the same as absolute time. For that matter, I could say that Einstein believed (as do I) in the absolute constancy of the speed of light in a vacuum, irrespective of your frame of reference. All theories have absolutes of some sort. So what?

        You write that “there is no scientific evidence that all of material reality had an absolute beginning.” Say what? Try telling that to Alex Vilenkin, who claims to have proved that the universe (that’s the multiverse, not just our universe) must have had a beginning: http://now.tufts.edu/articles/beginning-was-beginning

        Finally, you write that “the contingency argument does apply to the B-Theory views, but there are a number of responses to the Principle of Sufficient Reason.” You are way out of date: the modal cosmological argument, aka the contingency argument, does not presuppose the Principle of Sufficient Reason. See Dr. Robert Koons’ paper, “A New Look at the Cosmological Argument” at http://commonsenseatheism.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Koons-A-New-Look-at-the-Cosmological-Argument.pdf .

        • Vincent,

          I see the misrepresentation wasn’t part of the quote, it was just your own words that revealed your mistake. You (not Craig) said the article was discussing “absolute vs relative time” (hence my quoting and bolding of the words in question), where as the article is talking about “absolute vs relational time”. That article has nothing to do with “absolute vs relative” space and time, which is the point I was making.

          Craig himself does refer to “absolute space” and “absolute time” where the preferred frame in his Neo-Lorentzian view being the “absolute time”. http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/realtime.html and here at http://www.reasonablefaith.org/time-and-relativity-theory Craig specifically mentions the Loretnz theory being about absolute space and time. This is of course about absolute vs. relative, so to say that I’ve got Craig wrong by saying he holds to an “absolute time” when referring to absolute vs. relative, which is the entire context of my critique on Craig – well, you’re flat out wrong.

          Next…

          You write that “there is no scientific evidence that all of material reality had an absolute beginning.” Say what? Try telling that to Alex Vilenkin, who claims to have proved that the universe (that’s the multiverse, not just our universe) must have had a beginning
          http://now.tufts.edu/articles/beginning-was-beginning

          Note my use of “all of material reality” and then follow your link into the last part where Vilenkin, an atheist, talks about the universe coming from “nothing” where he specifically puts the word “nothing” in quotes. Quantum mechanics, the laws and fields, still exist – not as matter, but as energy. That’s part of “material reality”, and that’s all we need for a universe/multiverse to get going – there’s no need for a god. I do discuss this kind of thing at length in my critique on the Kalam, and to pretend that Vilenkin’s work “points to a god” when the man himself puts forward a theory that shows a god to be unnecessary is disingenuous.

          Finally, you write that “the contingency argument does apply to the B-Theory views, but there are a number of responses to the Principle of Sufficient Reason.” You are way out of date: the modal cosmological argument, aka the contingency argument, does not presuppose the Principle of Sufficient Reason. See Dr. Robert Koons’ paper, “A New Look at the Cosmological Argument”

          Note how I said the PSR and that argument. Contingency arguments have a number of responses, including responses to Koons. That however is another matter that is beyond what I’ve done so far on the Kalam, and right now that’s all I’m concerned with refuting and I believe I’ve done a thorough job of it.

          • Vincent Torley

            Hi CounterApologist,

            Thank you for acknowledging that I didn’t actually misrepresent Craig when quoting him. Thank you also for providing two links (finally!) which show Craig as professing a belief in absolute simultaneity and “absolute time.” I do wish you had provided these links earlier: http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/realtime.html and http://www.reasonablefaith.org/time-and-relativity-theory . It would have saved us both a lot of time.

            In any case, your first link refutes your claim that Craig adopts the A-theory of time for purely theological reasons. If he did that, then he would indeed be guilty of circularity in using it in his argument for the existence of God. But it turns out that Craig’s motivation is mainly philosophical. He writes:

            It can be plausibly argued, I think, that the A-theory of time is both philosophically and theologically superior to the B-theory. Philosophically, one should agree with D. H. Mellor that “Tense is so striking an aspect of reality that only the most compelling argument justifies denying it: namely that the tensed view of time is self-contradictory and so cannot be true”{7} and then proceed to show that in fact all such attempts to elicit a contradiction, such as McTaggart’s, fail,{8} leaving us secure in our naturally intuitive A-theoretic understanding. No B-theorist, on the other hand, has successfully answered, in my estimation, the charge that his theory is incoherent because the mind-dependence of physical becoming requires a real becoming in the subjective contents of consciousness.{9} In favor of the A-theory, one might argue that it gives the most adequate analysis of personal identity{10} and that the tensed-ness of our language and experience is uneliminable.{11}

            Notice that the arguments Craig cites relate to consciousness, personal identity and the “tensed-ness of our language.” Those are weighty reasons, to my mind. To appeal to considerations of “elegance” from a physicist’s theoretical standpoint in an attempt to undermine the intuition that change is real and replace it with a Parmenidean view of reality (block time) sounds mighty impertinent to me.

            Only then does Craig turn to theological considerations, as a secondary afterthought, and add: “Theologically, there seems to be a decisive reason for Christian theists’ rejecting the B-theory, namely, that it cannot give an adequate analysis of the biblical doctrine of creatio ex nihilo.” But that’s not his main reason.

            I have to admit that prior to reading the article you sent me, I had been more inclined to go along with Aquinas’ view of creation ex nihilo, but now I’m honestly beginning to wonder whether Craig might be right after all.

            I’m a bit disappointed that you haven’t delved further into the modal cosmological argument, but here’s an article that might get you to change your mind: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2013/07/fifty-shades-of-nothing

            Enjoy!

          • Vincent,

            I have to admit I’m shocked at this latest reply. Let’s start off:

            Thank you for acknowledging that I didn’t actually misrepresent Craig
            when quoting him. Thank you also for providing two links (finally!)
            which show Craig as professing a belief in absolute simultaneity and “absolute time.” I do wish you had provided these links earlier: http://www.leaderu.com/offices… and http://www.reasonablefaith.org… . It would have saved us both a lot of time.

            Yes, I completely admit that you did not misquote Craig. I took a mistake in what you wrote as a quote and I was wrong – the mistake was yours, not Craig’s.

            Let’s see if you can acknowledge the mistakes you’ve made thus far considering the fact that you have:

            1.) Accused me of misrepresenting Craig’s views, when I have not. Going so far as to say that “this reduces my credibility”.

            2.) Linked to an article about absolute vs. relational time, and then stated the article was about absolute vs. relative time, in some odd attempt to support the first, demonstrably false charge.

            3.) Accuse me of misrepresenting Craig’s views on the Neo-Lorentzian interpretation, when in fact I have not done so. I provide a link and quote from Craig in which he explicitly states that the Lorentzian interpretation he defends in his written works holds that time-dilation and length contraction are apparent, not real (here’s the link again: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/response-to-mccall-and-balashov )

            4.) Link to an article by Craig where in a footnote he refers to some Lorentzian interpretations that in contradiction to the page above and his written work do posit Time Dilation and Length Contraction as “really happening”, but that it doesn’t happen in the privileged frame which on this SME theory is supposed to be detectable, in stark contrast to the undetectable reference frame Craig defends.

            5.) Accuse me of getting the science wrong when you yourself admit that included in one of the axioms of STR is that no information or material object can travel faster than the speed of light. A tachyon, being a particle would be a material object. This would violate STR as we understand it, and would trigger re-evaluations in the Standard Model. At this point other views of STR’s equations would be evaluated or something new would come up. The point being however, there has been no such discovery of any particle that can travel faster than light.

            These are areas were you have been explicitly mistaken and yet accuse me of misrepresenting Craig or getting the science wrong. Every time I’ve pointed this out, you’ve gone on to another area to make similar charges and ignore the points being brought up.

            In fact this is what you continue to do:

            Notice that the arguments Craig cites relate to consciousness,
            personal identity and the “tensed-ness of our language.” Those are
            weighty reasons, to my mind. To appeal to considerations of “elegance” from a physicist’s theoretical standpoint in an attempt to undermine the intuition that change is real and replace it with a Parmenidean view of reality (block time) sounds mighty impertinent to me.

            I deal with some of his arguments in a post I linked you to. One is staggeringly bad in that Craig just asserts that our experience of temporal becoming should be regarded as properly basic. Much the same could be said of a flat earth.

            None of those arguments matter much, considering the wealth of empirical data that we have which shows Craig’s A-Theory to be faulty. To the point where he postulates an undetectable reference frame to try and save it. I’m sorry but actual physics trumps metaphysics every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

            Only then does Craig turn to theological considerations, as a secondary afterthought, and add: “Theologically, there seems to be a decisive reason for Christian theists’ rejecting the B-theory, namely, that it cannot give an adequate analysis of the biblical doctrine of
            creatio ex nihilo.” But that’s not his main reason.

            Emphasis mine. Here is where you are explicitly wrong. I’ve pointed this out to you earlier with a link and quote, but you’ve seen fit to ignore it. I will link and quote Craig again:

            what I take to be the central and most radical thesis of my book,
            namely, that the classical concept of time is based on metaphysical, and specifically, theological foundations which are immune to the relativistic critique

            http://www.reasonablefaith.org/response-to-mccall-and-balashov

            In Craig’s published works, when discussing why one would prefer the more complex Neo-Lorentzian theory over the standard Einstein-Minkowski STR theory he explicitly states:

            “We have good reasons for believing that a neo-Lorentzian theory is correct, namely the existence of God in A-theoretic time implies it, so that concerns about which version is simpler become of little moment.”

            “Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity” by William Lane Craig (pg 179).

            He has to make the theological move because metaphysics is largely trumped by empirical data, theology on the other hand isn’t.

            I’m a bit disappointed that you haven’t delved further into the modal cosmological argument, but here’s an article that might get you to change your mind: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2013/07/fifty-shades-of-nothing

            I have read the paper and found a few different issues with the specific argument, as have many others before me. I don’t intend to engage in a critique of it here or specifically with you, given the amount of times you’ve made demonstrably false claims about how I’ve represented Craig, science, and made other false accusations to try and question my credibility.

          • Thanks CA. As far as defending A Theory, I am sure Craig appeals to theology qua God as his primary defence in one of his closer to truth videos, but can’t remember which one. I have linked it before. Will have to listen to them again.

          • philly

            Hello Jonathan, I LOVE your blog. Its informative and lots of smart people frequent it, but how does the tenseless view of time explain my sense of a flow of time. I am incline to think that the b theory is the correct view but I do not understand how to make sense of that.

    • While drafting my first reply here this morning I was distracted and forgot to address some amazing scientific nonsense you had. Namely this:

      tachyons (which are allowed by relativity theory) have the absurd implication that in some frames of reference, an effect can occur before its cause. This paradox can be resolved on the other hand if we assume that there is a fundamental reference frame for measuring simultaneity, as the neo-Lorentzian theory does. There’s no circularity in arguing for God on the basis of a theory whose alternatives are all metaphysically nonsensical.

      First off, I already linked to this exact piece by Craig http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-triumph-of-lorentz ) you reference in the area that Jonathan quoted in the article.

      Craig’s “joy” at this finding is all the more hilarious because “tachyons” that actually travel faster than the speed of light aren’t allowed in Special Relativity. If we ever found these particles, like in the SME stuff you referenced earlier, it would cause relativity to be completely re-evaluated and the Standard Model would have to change.

      Here’s the fun bit: what Craig was referring to at CERN in that article didn’t actually happen the scientists came back and found that it was the result of a loose fiber optic cable. They re-ran the tests and no such particles were found. Craig’s “triumph of Lorentz” was nothing more than a loose cable and some pre-mature excitement by Craig to see relativity disproven.

      What I find most distressing is that Craig never issued a retraction, or came out to say “They didn’t ever really find a tachyon that moves faster than the speed of light, Einstein’s interpretation still holds.” What’s worse is that people like you come along, read that article, and think that somehow the evidence shows the vast majority of physicists are interpreting relativity incorrectly. That is where Craig is misleading by throwing out these “well if the evidence were found for XYZ, then this esoteric theory that was largely abandoned a century ago that I need for my arguments for god to work would become viable again!”. What he doesn’t state is that the experiments have been done, they’ve thus far failed every time.

      But that doesn’t matter, all you need is some false hope to keep on pretending that you’ve got scientific support for a bad philosophical argument.

      • Vincent Torley

        Hi Counter Apologist,

        First, I’d like to state up-front that my faith does not hang on the kalam cosmological argument. I don’t regard it as conclusive. Neither did Aquinas. However, I think that if it were shown that the multiverse had a beginning (or more precisely,a finite duration in time), that would certainly point to its having a cause. Personally, I regard the modal cosmological argument as much stronger than the kalam cosmological argument. Robert Koons’ paper, “A New Look at the Cosmological Argument” at http://commonsenseatheism.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Koons-A-New-Look-at-the-Cosmological-Argument.pdf is a pretty rigorous statement of the argument in modal logic.

        Second, your demand that Dr. Craig should issue a retraction for his post, “The Triumph of Lorentz” at http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-triumph-of-lorentz is rather petty. In his very last paragraph, Craig states, “The results obtained at CERN may not hold up. But I sure hope that they do.” Obviously they didn’t. But the fact that Craig acknowledged that possibility in his article speaks for itself.

        Third, your claim that “tachyons” that actually travel faster than the speed of light aren’t allowed in Special Relativity is flat-out wrong, and diminishes your credibility. See here:

        http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=3TcduHRetHkC&pg=PA107&lpg=PA107&dq=does+special+relativity+allow+tachyons&source=bl&ots=LWa9KNnuDS&sig=5O7QO8CeleygyW-5sDVCg3w-les&hl=en&sa=X&ei=x4ztUbejKcqOkwWt1IHgBw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=does%20special%20relativity%20allow%20tachyons&f=false

        “The conclusion is that the existence of tachyons is not excluded by relativity, but if they can interact with ordinary matter, the fact that they move faster than light allows for violations of causality…” (“Very Special Relativity: An Illustrated Guide” by Sander Bais, Amsterdam University Press, 2007, p. 107). (Italics mine – VJT.)

        (See also here for an article on a physicist who defends tachyons: http://thespectrumofriemannium.wordpress.com/tag/tachyons/ )

        On the status of the principle of causality in physics, please see http://www.pitt.edu/~jdnorton/papers/causation_BJPS.pdf (“Is There an Independent Principle of Causality in Physics?” by John D. Norton).

        In any case, what’s clear is that the special theory of relativity itself does not include a causal principle. Hence it does not exclude tachyons.

        • And most of CA’s points you concede then?

          • philly

            Pearce you are smart O.o

        • Causality is a fundamental principle of physics. If tachyons can transmit information faster than light, then according to relativity they violate causality, leading to logical paradoxes of the “kill your own grandfather” type. This is often illustrated with thought experiments such as the “tachyon telephone paradox”[7] or “logically pernicious self-inhibitor.”[15]

          The problem can be understood in terms of the relativity of simultaneity in special relativity, which says that different inertial reference frames will disagree on whether two events at different locations happened “at the same time” or not, and they can also disagree on the order of the two events (technically, these disagreements occur when spacetime interval between the events is ‘space-like’, meaning that neither event lies in the future light cone of the other).[16]

          If one of the two events represents the sending of a signal from one location and the second event represents the reception of the same signal at another location, then as long as the signal is moving at the speed of light or slower, the mathematics of simultaneity ensures that all reference frames agree that the transmission-event happened before the reception-event.[16] However, in the case of a hypothetical signal moving faster than light, there would always be some frames in which the signal was received before it was sent, so that the signal could be said to have moved backwards in time. Because one of the two fundamental postulates of special relativity says that the laws of physics should work the same way in every inertial frame, if it is possible for signals to move backwards in time in any one frame, it must be possible in all frames. This means that if observer A sends a signal to observer B which moves faster than light in A’s frame but backwards in time in B’s frame, and then B sends a reply which moves faster than light in B’s frame but backwards in time in A’s frame, it could work out that A receives the reply before sending the original signal, challenging causality in every frame and opening the door to severe logical paradoxes.[17]

          • Vincent Torley

            Jonathan,

            If you’re going to quote from the Wikipedia article on tachyons, that’s fine, but you might want to acknowledge the fact.

            I take issue with the first statement from your quote: “Causality is a fundamental principle of physics.” Causality is a metaphysical notion, as you’re well aware. Physics doesn’t deal with such matters.

            If you want to prove me wrong, could you please put forward a scientific definition of the term “cause.”

        • Hello Vincent, it’s nice of you to reply to me directly.

          First, I’d like to state up-front that my faith does not hang on the kalam cosmological argument. I don’t regard it as conclusive. Neither did Aquinas.

          That’s a rather good thing if you want to keep your faith, but I suspect that there isn’t an argument you rest your faith on. I’m almost willing to bet money you’re a proponent of Plantinga’s Reformed Epistemology where you don’t have to worry about evidentialist standards for your faith.

          However, I think that if it were shown that the multiverse had a beginning (or more precisely,a finite duration in time), that would certainly point to its having a cause.

          That most certainly wouldn’t be shown given a space-time realist interpretation that’s held by the vast majority of physicists, but that’s it’s own matter. There’s of course nothing that shows a multiverse is finite and there are a very large number of potential models for the universe/multiverse that work on either a tensed or tenseless theory of time.
          Your god could save us all quite a bit of trouble and just show up, but that has appeared to be just a bit too hard.

          Third, your claim that “tachyons” that actually travel faster than the speed of light aren’t allowed in Special Relativity is flat-out wrong, and diminishes your credibility.

          Considering this is the 3rd time you’ve accused me of getting my science wrong in such a way that it “diminishes my credibility” and in every case I’ve had to go back and show explicitly in detail how you were incorrect – color me a bit skeptical of your assessment.

          What I stated is that tachyons that travel faster than the speed of light would violate one of Einstein’s axioms that STR is based on – that the speed of light is constant and that nothing can travel faster than it. As Jonathan points out below this would also violate the second axiom of there being no reference frames where the laws of physics don’t apply in the same way.

          This would undermine STR as we understand it: the Einstein-Minkowski interpretation in the Standard Model. You could adopt a Neo-Lorentzian view or we would look for another way to amend the theory to be consistent with whatever results we did find.

          This is actually stated by Craig in the very link you cite, and is the reason he called the post “The Triumph of Lorentz”.

          Finally, calling me petty for wanting a retraction or at least an amendment to that article – well you were the one quoting it as if these particles had been found and thus had shown the Standard Model of particle physics to be metaphysically absurd. They haven’t, and the SM holds.

          • Vincent Torley

            Hi CounterApologist,

            Thank you for your reply. I think this post of yours sets a new record for errors of fact.

            1. You write: “I’m almost willing to bet money you’re a proponent of Plantinga’s Reformed Epistemology.” Actually, I’m a Catholic (I hinted as much when I mentioned Aquinas), and I hold that the existence of God can be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt.

            2. You state that one of the axioms that STR is based on is that “the speed of light is constant and that nothing can travel faster than it.” Three errors in one sentence! First, it’s not the speed of light that’s constant (it’s considerably slower in water, as I’m sure you know full well); it’s the speed of light in a vacuum that’s constant. Second, STR doesn’t assume that nothing can travel faster than light; it says that no information signal or material object can travel faster than light. Third, Wikipedia describes this statement not as an axiom on which STR is based but as “one of the consequences of special relativity” – and even that’s only “if causality is to be preserved.” See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_relativity#Causality_and_prohibition_of_motion_faster_than_light

            3. Earlier, you explicitly stated that “‘tachyons’ that actually travel faster than the speed of light aren’t allowed in Special Relativity.” I called you out on this one and quoted from a science text that asserted the exact opposite. Now you state that tachyons would “undermine STR as we understand it: the Einstein-Minkowski interpretation in the Standard Model,” but concede that “you could adopt a Neo-Lorentzian view,” which is ONE interpretation of STR, even if it’s not the one favored by most physicists.

            4. Finally, you completely misunderstand my reason for quoting “The Triumph of Lorentz.” You write: “you were the one quoting it as if these particles had been found and thus had shown the Standard Model of particle physics to be metaphysically absurd.” Excuse me, but when did I ever claim that tachyons had been found? As for the Standard Model, when have I ever uttered as much as a breath of criticism against it? Never. The reason why I quoted from that paper was to show that you were making claims about Craig’s views which are factually incorrect. He doesn’t hold that length contraction is merely apparent: he says it’s real.

            Finally, as to why a multiverse with a finite duration would require a cause even on the B-theory of time, I provided you with a link above to Dr. Robert Koons’ paper, “A New Look at the Cosmological Argument.” I suggest you read it. It’s on page 10. The basic idea is that if an attribute is finite, it’s measurable. If it’s measurable, it’s completely contingent: you can always ask why it isn’t a little more or a little less. If it’s completely contingent, it requires a cause, as Koons argues in his paper.

          • Vincent,

            1. You write: “I’m almost willing to bet money you’re a proponent of Plantinga’s Reformed Epistemology.” Actually, I’m a Catholic (I hinted as much when I mentioned Aquinas), and I hold that the existence of God can be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt.

            It’s nice to find a Christian who doesn’t jump in for Plantinga’s RE, but I’ll just note I was guessing, not making a factual claim. Your claim of demonstrating god’s existence beyond a reasonable doubt is rather cute though.

            2. You state that one of the axioms that STR is based on is that “the speed of light is constant and that nothing can travel faster than it.” Three errors in one sentence! First, it’s not the speed of light that’s constant (it’s considerably slower in water, as I’m sure you know full well); it’s the speed of light in a vacuum that’s constant. Second, STR doesn’t assume that nothing can travel faster than light; it says that no information signal or material object can travel faster than light. Third, Wikipedia describes this statement not as an axiom on which STR is based but as “one of the consequences of special relativity” – and even that’s only “if causality is to be preserved.” See here:

            Yes it’s the speed of light in a vacuum. I’m sorry if I didn’t give the entire rigorous axiom for Einstein’s STR as stated in his 1905 paper, I figured a generalization would function well enough for a comment thread (I do specify it in my actual critique).

            You however are proving my point for me: “it says that no information signal or material object can travel faster than light”. Last I checked a Tachyon was a particle, which I’d say classifies as a material object.

            Finally, it was an axiom of STR that Einstein used originally, it’s arguable that it can be derived from the other axiom.

            3. Earlier, you explicitly stated that “‘tachyons’ that actually travel faster than the speed of light aren’t allowed in Special Relativity.” I called you out on this one and quoted from a science text that asserted the exact opposite. Now you state that tachyons would “undermine STR as we understand it: the Einstein-Minkowski interpretation in the Standard Model,” but concede that “you could adopt a Neo-Lorentzian view,” which is ONE interpretation of STR, even if it’s not the one favored by most physicists.

            Special Relativity under the Einstein-Minkowski interpretation is what is accepted, and the axioms are held as valid for the Standard Model and aspects of physics. If one of the axioms were ever shown to be false, there would be a massive shift in physics, as Craig alludes to in the article in question.

            4. Finally, you completely misunderstand my reason for quoting “The Triumph of Lorentz.” You write: “you were the one quoting it as if these particles had been found and thus had shown the Standard Model of particle physics to be metaphysically absurd.” Excuse me, but when did I ever claim that tachyons had been found? As for the Standard Model, when have I ever uttered as much as a breath of criticism against it? Never. The reason why I quoted from that paper was to show that you were making claims about Craig’s views which are factually incorrect. He doesn’t hold that length contraction is merely apparent: he says it’s real.

          • Vincent Torley

            Hi CounterApologist,

            You seem extraordinarily sensitive to perceived slights, and yet your Website basically accuses Dr. William Lane Craig of doing bad science and bad philosophy, and of not understanding the physics he discusses, despite the fact that he’s been writing books and articles about space, time and relativity for more than 30 years. Some of these articles have appeared in science journals. The man has also repeatedly debated atheistic scientists and philosophers. If his scientific premises were wrong, I think someone would have set him straight by now.

            My zeal in defending Craig stems from a desire not to see his name trashed, and nothing more. If in the process of defending him I have to accuse you of getting certain points wrong, it is not because I have any desire to belittle you, but because you have (mistakenly, I believe) belittled Craig.

            I should add that from where I live, it is impossible for me to access a library, and I therefore cannot look up Craig’s books and journal articles. As for ordering books over Amazon, sorry, but I don’t have that kind of money these days. I can only access what I can find online, which is a “hit-and-miss” process, as there’s no single Web page on which Craig has collated everything he’s written on the subject.

            Turning to the points you raised:

            1. You say that our experience of change no more establishes its objective reality than our experience of a flat Earth establishes that the Earth is flat. Not so. The shape of the Earth is a fact external to ourselves. The reality of change is a fact that includes ourselves and everything we do and say and think. Einstein’s block theory implies that objectively speaking, it’s all fixed, including what I’m typing now and what you’re going to type in response. And if I change my opinion and decide that you’re right after all, then on Einstein’s view, that isn’t a change either: it’s all fixed too. Do you see how crazy and counterintuitive that sounds? That’s why I say it’s going to take a lot more than considerations relating to mathematical elegance to persuade me that the “block-time” interpretation of STR is correct. Even if the neo-Lorentzian interpretation were rather ad hoc by comparison (and I’m not sure it really is), I think it would still be rational to adopt it.

            2. Earlier I wrote that on STR, “no information signal or material object can travel faster than light.” I actually got that phrase from Wikipedia, and I’d like to retract it. I should have said “no information signal can travel faster than light, and no material object can be accelerated past the speed of light.” STR is silent on the question of whether there could exist particles which always traveled faster than light. Earlier I quoted from a science book which acknowledges as much:

            “The conclusion is that the existence of tachyons is not excluded by relativity, but if they can interact with ordinary matter, the fact that they move faster than light allows for violations of causality…” (“Very Special Relativity: An Illustrated Guide” by Sander Bais, Amsterdam University Press, 2007, p. 107).

            3. Re Craig’s views on the reality of length dilation and time contraction, you quoted a passage where Craig says “On this view Lorentz invariance is merely apparent not real,” and I quoted one where he says (in a footnote) that “the Lorentzian interprets length contraction and time dilation as not merely apparent, but real.” I admit there’s been a lot of confusion here, and I apologize for accusing you of getting Craig’s views wrong. It turns out that Craig’s views are quite subtle. I’ve done some more digging and delving, and I’ve found a review by philosopher Mauro Dorato of Craig’s 2001 book, “Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity” at philsci-archive.pitt.edu/902/1/SRTbre.rtf‎ .

            Dorato comments: “Craig says that time
            dilations and lengths contractions are “real”, and if by “real” he means “measurable”,
            his claim is correct. If instead “real” means “due to a causal mechanism” or
            “due to a force”, his claim is wrong, because in this second sense the
            relativistic effects are not real at all, so that there is
            nothing to explain..”

            Let’s leave it at that, shall we?

            4. Finally, you accuse Craig of circular reasoning – a charge you have still not retracted. And yet in

            “Einstein, Relativity and Absolute Simultaneity,” edited by William Lane Craig and Quentin Smith, Craig refutes this view:

            Admitted on all sides to be at least empirically equivalent to the Einsteinian and Minkowskian interpretations, the Lorentzian interpretation is the only one of the trio which can give us both the objective reality of tense and temporal becoming and a unified picture of the world. It is neither more complicated than its rivals nor unacceptably contrived. It is the one approach to relativity theory which promises to mesh with recent advances in cosmology and quantum mechanics and electrodynamics. At the same time it avoids all the problems inherent in the space-time realism of the Minkowskian interpretation. Therefore, we have good grounds – wholly apart from the theological considerations which motivated the classical concept of time – for accepting a Lorentzian physical interpretation of the mathematical formulation of the Special Theory of Relativity. (p. 41).

            I can’t read most of the book online, but I was able to access that part, courtesy of Google Books. But I think this refutes your charge of circular reasoning.

            5. By the way, most of Craig’s ”
            Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity” can be viewed online, as I’ve just discovered. I think it will persuade you that the man is no fool.

            Bye for now, and best wishes.

          • Vincent,

            I find this rather extraordinary that you say I’m sensitive to perceived slights considering the “zeal” you’ve displayed in making baseless accusations of me either misrepresenting Craig or getting the science wrong.

            When I make a mistake, I admit and correct it. I am glad to see you similarly admit that you were wrong to accuse me of misrepresenting Craig.

            This isn’t about sleights, it’s about getting to the truth. My work centers around laying out the science and showing where Craig is incorrectly projecting his metaphysical conclusions into places in science where he is not justified in doing so and explaining why. This counters his arguments and exposes that they’re not good reasons to believe in a god. If you challenge me there, I will respond. It’s as simple as that.

            your Website basically accuses Dr. William Lane Craig of doing bad science and bad philosophy, and of not understanding the physics he discusses, despite the fact that he’s been writing books and articles about space, time and relativity for more than 30 years.

            I do not accuse Craig of doing bad science, I point out where he projects his own predetermined metaphysical conclusions onto an complex area of science where those views aren’t justified in going. You did the same thing when you link to Vilenkin’s work and then pretend as though it shows your theology to be correct.

            In one area do I accuse Craig of doing bad philosophy, and that is simply quoting noted philosopher Wes Morrison’s critique of Craig when he says that the singularity (if it existed, it probably doesn’t) is equivalent to “nothing” in the philosophical sense).

            Finally, I never accuse Craig of not understanding the science. I think he understands it perfectly well, extremely well for a philosopher and theologian. All I do is lay out the facts as they stand in science and point out how Craig is not justified in projecting his predetermined philosophical conclusions onto these findings, and most importantly I explain why.

            Appeals to “he’s been doing this for 30 years someone would have pointed him out to be wrong by now” is disingenuous. He’s had it pointed out multiple times, where do you think I learned the critiques from? Let’s turn the question around, if he’s been doing this for 30 years, and the science really showed what he claims it does, why are 73% of philosophers and a vastly higher percentage of scientists (specifically cosmologists) atheists rather than theists?

            My zeal in defending Craig stems from a desire not to see his name trashed, and nothing more. If in the process of defending him I have to accuse you of getting certain points wrong, it is not because I have any desire to belittle you, but because you have (mistakenly, I believe) belittled Craig.

            First off, I don’t care what your motivations are. You made sweeping accusations about me getting the facts wrong, and then you try to extrapolate from that the rest of my critique should be ignored. I’ve demonstrated that I have not misrepresented Craig or gotten my science wrong. If I make a mistake, I correct it.

            When I’m accused of making mistakes by people who clearly don’t understand the subject matter and are just quoting from websites I’m going to defend my

            I engage in a critique and I very explicitly do not belittle. The worst I do is charge Craig with hypocrisy for calling Young Earth Creationists an “embarrassment” for “believing in scientific nonsense” when he uses metaphysics and theology to reject all possible empirical data on the issue of space-time being relative vs. absolute.

            I will respond to you point by point, hopefully for the last time.

            1. You say that our experience of change no more establishes its
            objective reality than our experience of a flat Earth establishes that
            the Earth is flat. Not so. The shape of the Earth is a fact external to
            ourselves. The reality of change is a fact that includes ourselves and
            everything we do and say and think. Einstein’s block theory implies that objectively speaking, it’s all fixed, including what I’m typing now and what you’re going to type in response. And if I change my opinion and decide that you’re right after all, then on Einstein’s view, that isn’t a change either: it’s all fixed too. Do you see how crazy and
            counterintuitive that sounds? That’s why I say it’s going to take a lot
            more than considerations relating to mathematical elegance to persuade me that the “block-time” interpretation of STR is correct. Even if the neo-Lorentzian interpretation were rather ad hoc by comparison (and I’m not sure it really is), I think it would still be rational to adopt it.

            You’re attacking a strawman of what space-time realism states. It doesn’t deny that “change happens” and it doesn’t imply fatalism either. All it states is that the “time” position is as real as the “space” position. We simply are always moving forward in time, for reasons we’re not completely sure of (some think it’s the second law of thermodynamics), but like we move through space in a room, just because we are in one location does not mean that other locations don’t exist. There’s a wealth on this topic that goes well beyond the strawman you’re building here.

            2. Earlier I wrote that on STR, “no information signal or material
            object can travel faster than light.” I actually got that phrase from
            Wikipedia, and I’d like to retract it. I should have said “no
            information signal can travel faster than light, and no material object
            can be accelerated past the speed of light.” STR is silent on the
            question of whether there could exist particles which always traveled
            faster than light. Earlier I quoted from a science book which
            acknowledges as much:

            “The conclusion is that the existence of tachyons is not excluded by relativity, but if they can interact with ordinary matter, the fact that they move faster than light allows for violations of causality…” (“Very Special Relativity: An Illustrated Guide” by Sander Bais, Amsterdam University Press, 2007, p. 107).

            First, I’m talking Einstein-Minkowski STR, which is what physicists talk about when they discuss STR. If we found something that traveled faster than light that also interacted with matter then we’d either abandon EM-STR or we’d be substantially amending the causal principle. The latter is seen to be a rather bad move by physicists and philosophers, but if you think it’s a live option then it’s all you. This doesn’t at all change the facts of the matter when I discuss Craig and his reactions to tachyons. He wants EM-STR to no longer be accepted in the standard model, period.

            3. Re Craig’s views on the reality of length dilation and time
            contraction, you quoted a passage where Craig says “On this view Lorentz invariance is merely apparent not real,” and I quoted one where he says (in a footnote) that “the Lorentzian interprets length contraction and time dilation as not merely apparent, but real.” I admit there’s been a lot of confusion here, and I apologize for accusing you of getting Craig’s views wrong. It turns out that Craig’s views are quite subtle. I’ve done some more digging and delving, and I’ve found a review by philosopher Mauro Dorato of Craig’s 2001 book, “Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity” at philsci-archive.pitt.edu/902/1… .

            Dorato comments: “Craig says that time dilations and lengths contractions are “real”, and if by “real” he means “measurable”, his claim is correct. If instead “real” means “due to a causal mechanism” or “due to a force”, his claim is wrong, because in this second sense the relativistic effects are not real at all, so that there is nothing to explain..”

            Let’s leave it at that, shall we?

            What I want to point out is that your quote there shows exactly what I’ve represented Craig’s views as. He believes that time dilation and length contraction appear to happen, that we can measure it, indeed that we have to measure it for things like GPS to work – but he denies that it really happens. This is despite the fact that he also admits that any observation we do on this will always show that these things happen. That’s putting theology and metaphysics over empirical science, and that’s (rightly in my view) looked down on by people.

            It undermines his entire argument and I will not stop pointing this out at every opportunity – because he likes to pretend that “science really shows that a god must exist!” when that is not at all the case. This is why he goes with the Kalam argument over cosmological arguments from contingency. Science holds sway over people, and he’s misrepresenting science here by not telling the whole story up front.

            4. Finally, you accuse Craig of circular reasoning – a charge you have still not retracted.


            I can’t read most of the book online, but I was able to access that
            part, courtesy of Google Books. But I think this refutes your charge of circular reasoning.

            I will not retract it because he explicitly says that theological reasons are his central and most radical claim in his book. The metaphysical arguments can be dealt with philosophically, but they don’t even have to be – the vast amount of empirical data we have to the contrary trumps it. This why Craig brings theology into the discussion, theology isn’t so easily trumped by science the way metaphysics is.

            5. By the way, most of Craig’s ”
            Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity” can be viewed online, as I’ve just discovered. I think it will persuade you that the man is no fool.

            I’ve already read a decent amount of the book. I don’t hold that Craig is a fool. I do not insult him and I correct others that do (check some of my YouTube comments).

            What he does do is pretend to be an evidentialist when he really holds to fideism. He goes through the science and has found a very esoteric area to make a metaphysical and theological “leap” which he can then use to try and argue for his predetermined conclusion of a god existing. All I’m doing is exposing where he makes the leap and explaining why that’s bad science.

          • Vincent Torley

            Hi CounterApologist,

            Thanks for your response, and for clearing up matters about how you feel towards Craig. I see you respect him more than I had supposed. I would however like to rebut a couple of misconceptions of yours.

            You write that Craig “likes to pretend that ‘science really shows that a god must exist!’ when that is not at all the case.”

            No, Craig doesn’t do that. In a recent article entitled, “Theism Defended” in “The Nature of Nature”, ed. by Bruce Gordon and William Dembski, ISI Books, Wilmington, 2011, p. 903), Craig writes:

            Thus, a good argument for God’s existence need not make it certain that God exists… The question is not whether the denial of a particular premise in the argument is possible, or even plausible: the question is whether the denial is as plausible, or more plausible, than the premise. If it is not, then we should believe the premise.

            Now plausibility is, to a great extent, a person-dependent notion. Some people may find a premise plausible, and others not. Accordingly, some people will agree that a particular argument is a good one, while others will say is a bad argument. Given our diverse backgrounds and biases, we should expect such disagreements.

            Sounds pretty modest to me. There’s no talk of scientific proofs here.

            You also write: “What he does do is pretend to be an evidentialist when he really holds to fideism.” Actually, Craig has said that the “self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit”trumps all evidence and would be a good reason to believe in God and in Christianity, even in the absence of other evidence, or if other evidence suggested otherwise. See http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=5225 . Luke Muelhauser thinks that’s dumb; I don’t. Nothing could persuade me that a member of my immediate family was a serial killer, and I suspect the same is true for you. If a person has had a religious experience that he/she can only explain by reference to God, then I’d say that belief makes good sense. What Craig is NOT saying, however, is that we should believe in God in the absence of all evidence, as fideists do (e.g. Pascal).

            You ask why why are 73% of philosophers are atheists. Sorry, but if you look at philosophers of religion, who have a better knowledge of the arguments, 73% accept or lean towards theism.

            You claim that I “link to Vilenkin’s work and then pretend as though it shows your theology to be correct.” Nonsense. When have I ever claimed that Vilenkin was a theist? What I will say is that the fact that the universe has a finite duration lends strong support to theism, although it’s far from conclusive.

            You write that you have not misrepresented Craig. But you did accuse him (incorrectly) of circular reasoning, and my quote from Craig arguing that “we have good grounds – wholly apart from the theological considerations which motivated the classical concept of time – for accepting a Lorentzian physical interpretation” of STR, refutes that claim.

            Thank you for clarifying that when you’re talking about the background assumptions of STR, you’re talking about Einstein-Minkowski STR.

            However, I have to take you up on your claim that “space-time realism … doesn’t deny that change happens.” It does, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s article on time at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/time/ . The article says that “the B series without the A series does not involve genuine change (since B series positions are forever ‘fixed,’ whereas A series positions are constantly changing).”

            The intuition that change is real is basic and sufficiently powerful as to trump all the evidence of physics. If Craig is to be condemned for upholding the reality of change, then I think there are many who would gladly join him – including some physicists!

            I think I shall stop here. Thanks for the exchange.

  • Honest_John_Law

    WLC is not a scientist. WLC has no such credentials. I personally believe WLC uses public debates as a forum to evangelize. The idea that WLC actually deserves a place at the table with real scientists is laughable (imo).

    Now, Robert Jastrow (founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) was a real scientist (and a self-proclaimed agnostic). There is abundant evidence that he was open to the possibility that time and substance both existed before the Big Bang. He said as much whilst he lived.

    • Vincent Torley

      Craig has authored articles in scientific journals. He has debated notorious atheists who are also eminent scientists, such as physicist Victor Stenger and chemist Peter Atkins, and he’s won – see http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=392 . He co-edited a book about Einstein’s theory of relativity with atheist philosopher Quentin Smith in 2007 (“Einstein, Relativity, and Absolute Simultaneity.”) In 2000, he authored “The Tensed Theory of Time: A Critical Examination” and “The Tenseless Theory of Time: A Critical Examination” for Kluwer Academic Publishers. Craig’s list of publications is here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/william-lane-craig/publications . Honestly, if his kalam cosmological contained some basic physics error, as CounterApologist seems to think, I think someone would have put him right by now.

      • Honest_John_Law

        Debates can be “won” or “lost” on style points. Craig is a polished showman.

        Again, Craig is not a scientist. He is incapable of being unbiased re. the analyzation of any data that might challenge basic Christian truth claims. Craig has said as much:

        “The way that I know Christianity is true is first and foremost on the basis of the witness of the Holy Spirit in my heart. And this gives me a self-authenticating means of knowing that Christianity is true wholly apart from the evidence. And therefore if in some historically contingent circumstances the evidence that I have available to me should turn against Christianity I don’t think that that controverts the witness of the Holy Spirit.” – WLC

        Even highly-noted Christian apologist Randal Rauser took Craig to task re. taking such positions.

  • All this chat about Craig and neo-Lorentzian theories and A versus B theories of time inspired me to refute all of Craig’s summarized “refutations” of the B-theory of time. Check it out here: http://www.atheismandthecity.com/2013/07/a-short-look-at-william-lane-craigs.html