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Sunday, April 3, 2011

William Lane Craig Defeated Part 2 - The Existence of Contingent Beings

This is my response to the arguments for the "evidence for the existence of god," given by William Lane Craig in his debate with Lawrence Krauss at NCU. William Lane Craig's argument is below, and my refutation follows:

Craig's argument:

P1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence (either in its own nature or in an external cause)
P2. The universe exists.
P3. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is god.
C. Therefore the explanation of the universe is god.

My response:

Craig believes he has formulated a clever argument that will not fall prey to the usual cosmological counter--but it does. Adding the phrase "either in its own nature or in an external cause" does not help. Let's see how he intended to use this loophole. Adding the phrase "in its own nature" is an effort to fend off the question and infinite regress of, "What explanation can be offered to explain god?"  The answer would be, "Another god."  But that leads to an infinite regress, where the explanation of gods existence is explained by another god, and so on to infinity.  Craig wants to use the notion that the explanation of god is "in his own nature" to prevent the infinite regress. However, this move by Craig provides a counter to his own argument.  We can use the same explanation for the explanation for the existence of the universe, in that, it is "in its own nature."  Let me illustrate this for you.

One could say, "Well, god exists, therefore he must have an explanation." Then Craig could simply answer that God's explanation is "in God's own nature." Note, this is merely by description, and assertion, without any facts or evidence. Worse, we can say the same thing for the universe, but in this case, one explanation has been offered by Lawrence Krauss using Quantum Mechanics. Whether this is true or not is neither here nor there, but the fact of the matter is that we have more evidence for the universe being explained by "its own nature" than we do for any "gods or goddesses" as the explanation for its existence. Furthermore, the universe is considered circular and infinite by many religions; for example, Taoism, Buddhism and ancient African religions; and this is supported by the Second Law of Conservation of Energy, as well as Quantum Theory, as pointed out by Dr. Krauss.

So we see from examining P1, that Craig commits a fallacy worse than the fallacy of "False Dilemma," for, in P1, he gives a disjunction, with two disjuncts. One disjunct being "in its own nature" and the other disjunct is "an external cause." He goes on to P3, and limits the possible explanations of the universe ONLY being an external cause. There is no justification for such a limitation, as I have already shown.

Furthermore, I do not have to provide an explanation of how the explanation of the universe is "in its own nature." As Craig himself points out about the explanation of a "best explanation":

"...that can be left open for future inquiry... If the best explanation needs an explanation, we're left with an infinite regress."

Therefore, I do not have to provide an "explanation of my explanation" of the universe being "in its own nature." Clearly, this explanation is just as viable, if not more viable, and a better explanation, (due to scientific inquiry) than saying "Goddidit!!!" This shows that P3 is not justified, and the argument does not work, as it is an open question as to the explanation of the existence of the universe. William Lane Craig's ATTEMPT to prove god's existence as the best explanation for the existence of the universe in the above argument fails.

38 comments:

Eric said...

Hello

"Craig wants to use the notion that the explanation of god is "in his own nature" to prevent the infinite regress. However, this move by Craig provides a counter to his own argument. We can use the same explanation for the explanation for the existence of the universe, in that, it is "in its own nature.""

If the explanation of the existence of X is in X's nature, then X must exist necessarily. And if X exists necessarily, it seems that X must exist eternally. Therefore, to make the move you're trying to make here stick, you'd have to provide reasons for concluding that the universe (1) exists necessarily, and (2) exists eternally. I think that Craig would argue that we have much better reasons for concluding that (1) and (2) are false than we do for concluding that they're true -- and I think he's right.

"One could say, "Well, god exists, therefore he must have an explanation." Then Craig could simply answer his explanation is "in his own nature." Note, this is merely by description, and assertion, without any facts or evidence."

I don't think it's charitable at all to criticize Craig for not supporting the notion that the explanation of god's existence is in his nature. After all, anyone with even a passing familiarity with the history of Western philosophy knows first, that all sorts of arguments have been made to defend that very notion, and second, that the very concept of contingently existing god is at least approaching incoherence (even Swinburne et al have to maintain that god's existence is, if not logically necessary, 'factually necessary.'). Given that time in a debate is limited, we cannot expect the assumptions of every premise to be defended; and when a premise uses a concept in a way that's both consistent with the way it's been used for millennia, and that has a rich tradition of argumentation supporting it, it seems to me to be a bit cheap to criticize one for so using it.

Conversations with Christians said...

@Eric:

The fact that something may have been, or is popular, does not necessarily make it true. The would be the fallacy of argumentum ad populum.

One viable explanation for the existence of the universe is in "in its own nature." If so, then as you say, the universe must exist "necessarily." And if the universe exists "necessarily, then it seems that the universe also exists "eternally."

I have already given reasons for (1) and (2) in your comment. First, I provided a viable explanation of the universe is "in its own nature." And as you just illustrated, if that explanation is the best explanation, that would be evidence enough that the universe exists "necessarily" Secondly, according to the argument you presented, shows it would have to be eternal. Thirdly, I provided scientific evidence that the explanation of the universe is in "its own nature." I did this by pointing out the Second Law of Conservation of Energy, and Krauss' explanation of Quantum Theory. This shows that it is viable that the universe is eternal and recurring, as energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it merely changes form.

Lastly, Craig himself claims "no explanation of the explanation" is required, as it leads to an infinite regress. This would also apply to my explanation of the existence of the universe as being "in its own nature."--although I did give a scientific explanation...:)

Randy Everist said...

Krauss himself does not believe the universe is eternal, as he said it is a fact the universe began to exist 13.7 billion years ago. So long as this is a fact, the universe cannot have as its explanation the necessity of its own nature (it's extremely important to know that this critique has left out "necessity," so that some may mistakenly believe the universe's metaphysical existence as necessary is not in view).

Saying the universe is metaphysically necessary is to deny it had a beginning; further, it is to deny that the quarks which "make up the universe" could have been any different than what they are now. Also, appeal to the second law is mistaken, as these laws are descriptive of the universe, not prescriptive.

Finally, this only contradicts premise 3 of the argument, not 1 or 2. This, coupled with the radical notion of the necessity of the universe, makes me wonder if you are indeed a professor of philosophy. Have you any published material in academic journals, as an aside?

A is for Atheist said...

@ Randy

I do not care what Krauss believes, as my argument is not dependent on what Krauss or anyone else believes. It is dependent on the arguments and evidence.

My argument is that one viable explanation for the universe is "in its own nature." Now, this is consistent with the laws of conservation, and quantum mechanics. Let me break this down for you:

The universe might be recurring, and has always existed, and thus has no beginning. The time that scientists make reference to could just be the time of one of the regenerating points of the universe, as it recurs. This is similar to the Taoistic concept of the "Tao," and the universe.
Think of it like changing seasons, they come and they go, recurring. Now, the universe might be similar to that infinitely. Note, as Craig argues, I do not have to provide an "explanation of this explanation"--but I will anyway.

Now, given my explanation of the universe above, the universe just might turn out to be necessary. It is no more radical than saying that if gods or goddesses exist, they must be "necessary." At least we have some scientific evidence with regards to Quantum Mechanics. While theists claim nothing can come from nothing, actually, according to quantum mechanics, nothing is, in fact, something. Also, spontaneous and uncaused appearance of a subatomic particle-something that is routinely observed in particle accelerators, offers a viable explanation to the spontaneous and uncaused appearance of the universe and it's eternal recurrence.

A is for Atheist said...

As a side note--I have presented papers in various countries around the world, and I am currently writing a book. But it does not matter whether I have a degree or not, or whether or not I am a professor of philosophy and religion. All that matters are the arguments.

For example, if I was walking by a drunken bum on the street and wrote out an argument on the sidewalk and asked me to take a look at it, my reply to him would not be "Oh, you are just a drunken bum, so your argument must be crap!"
No, I would look at his argument and judge its validity and soundness, just as I judge any other argument--whether it be from him, or a Harvard scholar.

Matthew said...

I am in line with Randy- as I was surprised by your arguments lack of specific terminology. You appear to be applying metaphysical necessity to the universe. I think that this is extremely difficult to defend. It is also contrary to much of modern science (and as mentioned above) and Dr. Krauss.

Saying that the universe is necessary means that its non-existence is impossible. So it is logically contradictory to say the universe could not have existed. This appears prima facie false.

I also wanted to note that despite your claim, metaphysical necessity is different than the cyclical view of time that many eastern religions hold. You were mixing two different topics.

A is for Atheist said...

@ Matthew

We do not even have "proof" of any gods or goddesses, let alone their "necessity."

What I am addressing is Craig's arguments. I have provided a plausible and viable explanation for the existence of the universe. Given that explanation that does not require an explanation it is quite reasonable, especially given the Laws of Conservation of Energy, and Quantum Mechanics, that the universe might turn out to be "necessary" and "eternal." You cannot rule this out until the universe has been proven to be finite. Given my explanation of the existence of the universe above, it might turn out to be "necessary" and "eternal."

I am not restricted by definitions such as those provided for god or the universe. Note, the ontological argument can be used for the universe.
The Ontological argument examines the concept of God, and states that if we can conceive of the greatest possible being, then it must exist. Here, we can apply the same reasoning to the universe.

To illustrate this, I will use Gaunilo's example of the lost island which he used against Anselm's ontological argument. However, I will substitute the universe for the lost island. Thus, the argument would go like this:

P1. The Universe is that than which no greater can be conceived.
P2. It is greater to exist in reality than merely as an idea.
P3. If the Universe does not exist, one can conceive of an even greater universe, id est one that does exist.
C. Therefore, the Universe exists in reality.

If this argument is deemed unsound, then any similar arguments for the existence of god would also be unsound. Unlike Gaunilo's perfect island that does not exist, the universe does exist, which makes the argument actually viable in the case of the universe. Especially, and until, it has been proven to be finite.

So you understand the history of this argument, and the claim that if god exists, then he is necessary and eternal, and why I claim this is merely by definition. Look at Alvin Plantinga's attempt to save Anselm's ontological argument. Plantinga argues that the concept of "that than which nothing greater can be conceived" is not applicable to an island, or any other object, in the special way that it is applicable to God. Plantinga defends Anselm's proof by averring that it applies exclusively to Him. Anselm provided no proof as to why this has to apply only to god. It is by heir mere assertion that a necessary being is both existent and the greatest conceivable and greatest possible being, and that this applies only to god, as Anselm DEFINES him, and that only god meets all of those criteria and can, therefore, be claimed to be a necessary being.

Anselm, Plantinga,and anyone else that says this can only apply to god, and not to the universe, given my explanation above, are merely using "Humpty Dumpty" semantics, making words mean whatever they want them to mean, because they are merely ruling it out because they defined it that way. i.e. Claiming that we cannot apply these concepts and definitions to the universe; but only to god and nothing else.

Given my argument above, which includes the Laws of Conservation of Energy and Quantum Mechanics, a viable explanation for the origin if the universe is "in its own nature" and the concept of the universe being necessary and eternal is just as plausible as a god being necessary and eternal.

Clearly, this explanation is just as viable, if not more viable, and a better explanation, (due to scientific inquiry) than saying "Goddidit!!!"

Eric said...

"The fact that something may have been, or is popular, does not necessarily make it true. The would be the fallacy of argumentum ad populum."

I think you're really reaching with the 'fallacy' charges here. I manifestly did not say that such and such is *true* because it's popular; Indeed, I never even referred to the popularity of anything. I said that it's cheap to criticize Craig for not having defended an assumption of one of his premises that has been defended in sundry arguments for millennia, and the denial of which approached incoherence. How anyone, much less a supposed professor of philosophy, could construe this as an argumentum ad populum is beyond me.

"One viable explanation for the existence of the universe is in "in its own nature"...I did this by pointing out the Second Law of Conservation of Energy, and Krauss' explanation of Quantum Theory. This shows that it is viable that the universe is eternal and recurring, as energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it merely changes form."

The laws of thermodynamics do not provide evidence of an eternal universe. (Indeed, the second law arguably implies a temporally finite universe). The first law (not the second law, as you mistakenly said) concerning the conservation of energy governs physical quantities *within the universe* -- that is, it *presuppose* the existence of the universe. As such, it cannot be adduced to argue for an eternal universe. And as Randy said, since Krauss himself does not believe that the universe is eternal, you can hardly posit "Krauss' explanation of Quantum Theory" as a "viable explanation for the existence of the universe in its own nature." True, what Krauss himself believes is irrelevant as far as the arguments go, but when you merely reference his position, one which he does not think leads to the conclusion you're defending, without further comment, Krauss' conclusions become quite relevant -- unless you'd like to dilate upon why you think his arguments lead to your conclusion.

"Lastly, Craig himself claims "no explanation of the explanation" is required, as it leads to an infinite regress. This would also apply to my explanation of the existence of the universe as being "in its own nature.""

You've badly misunderstood Craig here. His point was that for an explanation to be a good one, it's not necessary that it be explained. But there are a host of other conditions that must be met if an explanation is to be a good one -- explanatory power, explanatory scope, etc. Craig was decidedly not saying that you can just throw out an explanation and fall back on the infinite regress of explanations if you're asked to defend it.

Eric said...

"Now, given my explanation of the universe above, the universe just might turn out to be necessary. It is no more radical than saying that if gods or goddesses exist, they must be "necessary." At least we have some scientific evidence with regards to Quantum Mechanics."

To say that the universe exists necessarily is to say, as Matthew pointed out, that the proposition, "the universe could not have existed" is contradictory. But it's actually a much stronger claim than that, for to say that the universe exists necessarily is to say that every particle in the universe exists necessarily. Hence, it must also be contradictory to say, "This particular quark could not have existed." Or, it must be the case that every physical constant is necessary, hence, the proposition, "the fine structure constant could have been different" is contradictory.

Further, to claim that the universe exists necessarily is to say that it doesn't exist contingently; that is, it's to say that it doesn't depend on anything for its existence. But as we all know, the universe in fact depends on very precise values of a number of physical constants and initial conditions. It's very difficult to square this apparent dependence with the notion of a necessarily existing universe.

"You cannot rule this out until the universe has been proven to be finite."

This is very confused. Whether some possibility or another can be "ruled out" is irrelevant; the issue is where the evidence points.

Eric said...

"Note, the ontological argument can be used for the universe."

No, it can't. In your parody argument, P1 is obviously false if we understand the term 'universe' according to its acceptation. And if we don't understand the term that way, then all your parody argument does is conclude that you're using the term 'universe' to mean 'god'!

"So you understand the history of this argument, and the claim that if god exists, then he is necessary and eternal, and why I claim this is merely by definition."

God's necessary existence has been defended in sundry arguments other than the ontological argument. Take Aquinas's argument that god must be pure act, or Scotus's triple primacy argument. It is not at all the case that god has been said to be eternal and necessary "merely by definition," and I would expect a professor of philosophy and religion -- heck, I'd expect a freshman in a survey course of the history of philosophy -- to be aware of this fact.

I won't even get into your discussion of Plantinga's version of the ontological argument, for you don't seem to understand a word of it. He doesn't define god as necessary, etc.; rather, he defines maximal excellence in terms of great making properties, and goes on to define maximal greatness in terms of possessing maximal excellence in every possible world. He then posits the mere *possibility* that maximal greatness is instantiated, and goes on from there. (Okay, I got into it a little bit.)

Randy Everist said...

I agree with Matthew. There are elementary errors and non-sequiturs here. And while I didn't make your degree a condition of any argument's truth, it is precisely because the arguments are so bad that I question the degree (not, as you thought, the other way around).

A is for Atheist said...

Eric said: "...if we don't understand the term that way, then all your parody argument does is conclude that you're using the term 'universe' to mean 'god'!"

Close, but actually I am not just using the term 'universe' to mean God; Giving my explanation of the universe being "in its own nature," and since
this explanation is just as viable, if not more viable, and a better explanation, (due to scientific inquiry) than saying "Goddidit!!!" This shows that P3 is not justified, and the argument does not work, as it is an open question as to the explanation of the existence of the universe.

As a result of my explanation, the universe satisfies the conditions of being GOD!!! Now, just by definition and the laws of substitution-- i.e., the universe must be pure act, and so on--that is unless you are trying to rule this out "merely by definition"--now do you see the parody more clearly? THE BEST EXPLANATION IS THAT THE UNIVERSE IS GOD--and NOT Yahweh.

Note, that the Taoists claim the Tao comes BEFORE the universe, or any gods and/or goddesses. The Tao is a force; the source of all things; and the ultimate reality. It is also consistent with modern physics and quantum mechanics. As the Taoists say:

"In the great beginning, there was non-being. It had neither being, nor name. The One originates from it;it has oneness but not yet physical form. When things obtain it and come into existence, that is called virtue (which gives them their individual character). That which is formless is divided (into yin and yang) and from the very beginning going on without interpretation is called destiny (ming, fate) Through movement and rest it produces all things."
Chinese Philosophy, translated and compiled by Wing-Tsit Chan, 1963, Princeton University Press, -- p. 202, The Chuang Tzu

Rob said...

Thanks for the comments on my blog about this event. I've posted some of my own thoughts on Dr. Craig's arguments here.

Eric said...

"As a result of my explanation, the universe satisfies the conditions of being GOD!!! Now, just by definition and the laws of substitution-- i.e., the universe must be pure act, and so on--that is unless you are trying to rule this out "merely by definition"--now do you see the parody more clearly?"

The universe could be pure act?! Friend, if you're a professor of philosophy, I'll eat my copy of the Summa.

A is for Atheist said...

@Eric

I do not wish to stoop to your level, but as a student of philosophy, you should be familiar with the "laws of substitution." Given my explanation of the existence of the universe being "in its own nature" and everything else I argued above, the universe would satisfy the conditions of being GOD, I am therefore, justified in making the substitution.i.e. the universe would be "pure act."

At any rate, my explanation of the existence of the universe being "in its own nature" is just as viable, if not more viable, and a better explanation, (due to scientific inquiry) than saying "Goddidit!!!" This shows that P3 is not justified, and the argument does not work, as it is an open question as to the explanation of the existence of the universe. William Lane Craig's ATTEMPT to prove god's existence as the best explanation for the existence of the universe in the above argument fails.

You might want to put some gravy on that Summa to make it easier to swallow....;)

Eric said...

"as a student of philosophy, you should be familiar with the "laws of substitution." Given my explanation of the existence of the universe being "in its own nature" and everything else I argued above, the universe would satisfy the conditions of being GOD, I am therefore, justified in making the substitution.i.e. the universe would be "pure act."

You can't substitute anything with anything. Take (1+1)+1=3. I can substitute (1+1) with 2, but I can't substitute it with 75, *or the result will be false*.

Now that that's clear, let's ask if the universe can possibly be 'pure act.' Well, whatever is pure act is by definition not in potency, full stop. I the universe in potency? It most certainly is. We know that the universe is expanding, for instance. Now whatever is in potency cannot be pure act; hence, the universe cannot be pure act. To suggest that it is would be like substituting (1+1) with 75 in the equation above.

I have no idea how a professor of philosophy could miss this. Hence...

Eric said...

"I do not wish to stoop to your level..."

Look, I really do appreciate your attempt to focus on the arguments. Sincerely, I do. But to imply that I'm doing something wrong by calling you out on an obvious lie is pure BS. *You're* the one who is in the wrong by lying in the first place about being a professor of philosophy.

cl said...

While I'm sympathetic to your response re Craig's objective morality argument, as Eric has duly noted, you've missed the mark here. You write:

Craig wants to use the notion that the explanation of god is "in his own nature" to prevent the infinite regress. However, this move by Craig provides a counter to his own argument. We can use the same explanation for the explanation for the existence of the universe, in that, it is "in its own nature."

We can do no such thing, at least, not without turning all of science upon its head, which would be a more egregious error than any you've attributed to Craig thus far. You continue:

At any rate, my explanation of the existence of the universe being "in its own nature" is just as viable, if not more viable, and a better explanation, (due to scientific inquiry) than saying "Goddidit!!!"

This is not true, at all. Scientific inquiry points AWAY FROM your claim, not towards it. Entropy. Eric is correct.

A is for Atheist said...

@ Eric

We will again totally ignore your ad hominen attack, as it is not relevant to the issue. Professor, not a professor--is totally irrelevant to the arguments.

I thank you for the compliment. Yes, I do stick to the argument. This is what good philosophers do. I wish I could say the same thing for you.

I am not JUST substituting anything for anything. Why, it was YOU my friend, who said:

"...all your parody argument does is conclude that you're using the term 'universe' to mean 'god'!"

So I say to you AGAIN, since you do not address the argument:

"...as a student of philosophy, you should be familiar with the "laws of substitution." Given my explanation of the existence of the universe being "in its own nature" and everything else I argued above, the universe would satisfy the conditions of being GOD, I am therefore, justified in making the substitution.i.e. the universe would be "pure act."

Eric, I am assuming that you at least understand basic logic, validity, and soundness and what it takes to defeat an argument and what counts as a counterexample. You merely claim: "You can't substitute anything with anything. Take (1+1)+1=3. I can substitute (1+1) with 2, but I can't substitute it with 75, *or the result will be false*." This is not a counterexample. Eric, this does not help your case or clear anything up--in fact you should have thought of that before you claimed that:"all your parody argument does is conclude that you're using the term 'universe' to mean 'god'!" One option would be to take back your claim, and the other option would be to show that I can not use the term 'universe' in the fashion that I have used it in my arguments.

Eric, you must do better than just present the popular definition and conception of the universe--you cannot defeat the argument by mere definition--you need to address the arguments and the explanation as to my conception of the universe." As I already pointed out to you: "The fact that something may have been, or is popular, does not necessarily make it true. This would be the fallacy of argumentum ad populum."

A is for Atheist said...

@Eric part 2

With reference to your claim about "PURE ACT." You said: "let's ask if the universe can possibly be 'pure act.' Well, whatever is pure act is by definition not in potency." I do not believe that this is necessarily the case.

To illustrate this and offer a counter I will provide three arguments.

1. Consider the following argument by Alan Rhoda:

"From this perspective, change requires that actualization of a potency. God is essentially Pure Act and so lacks potency. So God cannot change. Immutability, in short, is necessary to secure the Creator-creature distinction.

I think this argument is fallacious. And to explain why I'd like to consider what it could mean to say that God's essence is identical to his existence."

"So we arrive at a conception of the divine essence that contains two different sorts of properties: (1) properties that are necessary to God (like goodness), and (2) properties that God possesses contingently (like being a creator). What this means is that the fullness of being (pure actuality) is compatible with multiple possible determinations. Pure actuality in that sense is compatible both with God's being a creator and with his not being a creator.

But if God's being Pure Act is compatible with multiple possible determinations, then there is no obvious contradiction in God's changing with respect to some of his contingent properties all the while remaining Pure Act. In other words, being "Pure Act" in the sense of the fullness of being does not automatically entail being completely determinate without any potency."(http://www.alanrhoda.net/blog/2006/08/pure-actuality-and-immutability.html)

If this argument works and I think it does, the fact that the universe is expanding and is in potency would not rule it out from being "PURE ACT."

2. What are the implications of God as "PURE ACT" and does the universe meet the conditions of "PURE ACT."

A.) If God is His own Act of Being, then God is Act. Given my explanation above of the universe and quantum mechanics, one plausible explanation is that the universe is its own "ACT of being." I pointed out above that this might be explained by quantum mechanics.


B.) God is said to be indivisible. Quanta, one of the major components of quantum mechanics are indivisible within any theory that invokes them, and provides further support to a circular conception of time and the potentiality that the universe is finite and infinite.

C.) God is said to be outside of time. Quanta,is said to outside of time.

D.) God is said not to be in place, therefore God is not in the universe nor outside of it. Quanta are claimed to be space-less, and therefore quanta is not in the universe nor outside of it.

E.) God is said to be everywhere. Quanta is said to be everywhere.

And so on, and so on.....

I do not know how the universe began, nor am I convinced that anybody else knows either. What I have shown is that one viable explanation of its existence is in its own nature! Craig's P3, limits the possible explanations of the universe to ONLY being an external cause. Therefore, I reject Craig's The Existence of Contingent Beings argument on the grounds that Craig's fails to prove P3.

A is for Atheist said...

@cl

Apparently you are not "up to date" with modern science and quantum mechanics. I will merely provide you with a few quotations and links to illustrate my explanation that the universe is in itself, and the fact that the universe is expanding does not rule out circularity nor my explanation. Also, if Craig's argument is correct, I do not need an "explanation of the best explanation." I think this is a weak move to avoid objections like: How do you know that any God/s Goddess/es even exist? At any rate this move is open to my explanation if it is the best explanation!--and it is at least as viable as the claim that some God of Goddess did it!

http://everythingforever.com/st_order.htm

"Over the last 100 years, discovering the universe is expanding away from the extreme of Alpha taught us a great deal about the past, but only recently, due to the discovery of accelerating expansion, are we discovering the role that absolute zero plays in our future, as well as considering the influence of a future zero on the present. Science is not only coming to terms with the real and likely possibility that in many billions of years in the future there is an abrupt edge to time that ends at Omega zero. We are also beginning to focus on the physically real properties of zero, so we are beginning to discover what zero actually is. The stage we are in now is quite similar to the period between 1910 and 1932 when Vesto Slipher began measuring the red-shifting of galaxies and when Edwin Hubble showed the universe contained many different galaxies all expanding away from one another. It was many years before the majority of scientists fully appreciated what the expansion of galaxies meant about the past, but that one piece of knowledge has led to virtually everything we presently understand about the evolving large-scale cosmos. Simply recognizing that there is an extreme in the past taught us a great deal about the universe. Recognizing there is another extreme in our future will lead us to a scientific understanding of the universe and life beyond what we expect is even possible."

http://www.bautforum.com/archive/index.php/t-74540.html

"Typically, quanta are indivisible within any theory that invokes them, but quanta are allowed to be created and destroyed in many such theories."

A is for Atheist said...

http://sites.google.com/site/jdquirk/articles/circular-causality

"Circular Causality
A Physical Hypothesis of Eternal Recurrence:

Let us speculate freely a bit on the nature of Nature. The basis of the "time-loop" hypothesis I propose in this essay is a relatively new perspective in quantum theory put forth by physicist John Cramer. While not universally accepted, his approach has enjoyed some success in scientific circles. In short, Cramer's Transactional Interpretation of quantum physics states that at such a time as the wave function of a given quantum mechanical object such as a subatomic particle collapses due to its having assumed a definite state, that particle emits an "advanced wave" which travels backward in time to the instant of the particle's creation and determines its future course. The present, then, is determined not only by the past, but by the future as well."

A is for Atheist said...

@cl

Note, that the physical hypothesis of eternal recurrence allows for the universe existing being "in its own nature" as it recurs eternally. A diagram of this can be seen at the "everythingforever" site.

Here is further support for the viability of John Cramer's Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics as the best explanation:

http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/Margot-16437-AAAS-20060621-Reverse-Causation-Transactional-Interpretation-Outline-Talk-Quantum-Metaphor-Blind-veronarda-Entertainment-ppt-powerpoint/

hume said...

Question: isn't saying that God's existence is necessary and the universe's existence is not, holding the universe to a standard of logical necessity while God is only held to a standard of metaphysical necessity? Eric, you say earlier, "To say that the universe exists necessarily is to say, as Matthew pointed out, that the proposition, "the universe could not have existed" is contradictory. But we can say "God could not have existed" without contradicting ourselves as well. In my view, it's not clear at all that the God is metaphysically necessary and the universe isn't (i.e. metaphysically contingent).

Moreover, saying that the proposition that the universe's existence is necessary requires that every component of the universe be necessary is to commit a fallacy of division.

cl said...

[...A is for Atheist insults my knowledge of science then proceeds to cite a bunch of speculation...]

As I said: you can't make your argument without turning all of science upon its head. Thanks for confirming this.

A is for Atheist said...

@ cl

You should read Paul Feyerabend's "Against Method" as that is exactly how science works. The "layer cake theory" of science that you propose is dead. Progress in science involves revolutions. Also, as Feyerabend points out:

"The consistency condition which demands the new hypotheses agree with accepted theories is unreasonable because it preserves the older theory, and not the better theory. Hypotheses contradicting well confirmed theories give us evidence that cannot be obtained in any other way. Proliferation of theories is beneficial for science, while uniformity impairs its critical power." (Against Method Chapter 3)

In good Feyerabend fashion, Niels Bohr proposed a radical hypothesis: Electrons in an atom exist only in certain stationary states, including a ground state, and change their energy by "jumping" between the stationary states--emitting light whose wavelength depends on the energy difference. By combining known laws with bizarre assumptions about quantum behavior, Bohr solved the problem of atomic stability. Although his theory was full of contradictions, it provided a quantitative description of the spectrum of the hydrogen atom. Bohr recognized both the success and the shortcomings of his model, and with uncanny foresight, he rallied physicists to create a new physics. His vision was eventually fulfilled, although it took 12 years and a new generation of young physicists.

Quantum physics has had a revolutionary effect on science; turning it on its head.--in one sense, while in another sense, it solved dilemmas concerning radiation and matter. Yes, Quantum physics has turned science on its head, and also provided theories of matter and fields, and that knowledge has changed and expanded our world view.--and perhaps has even provided us with the "best explanation" for the universe being "in its own nature."

I will be posting some arguments for the "best explanation" for the universe being "in its own nature" shortly.

I have already posted "William Lane Craig's Best Explanation Move for the Existence of God is Impotent" which addresses his "best explanation" move for the existence of God.

cl said...

I'm all for revolutions in science. Problem is, you're not saying anything that would justify your previous arguments. Waving your hands and suggesting that the oscillating universe theory *might* be true ergo perhaps the universe *might* be something like pure act doesn't cut the mustard.

A is for Atheist said...

@cl

Obviously, you cannot follow the arguments, or perhaps you do not understand what an argument is, and what a counter argument to that argument would be. Your claim that my explanation would "turn science on its head" is not an argument. Also, my explanation is based on quantum physics, and the work done by physicists. Quantum physicists have provided scientific research which provides us with a viable, plausible explanation of the existence of the universe being "in its own nature." At present, it may be the "best explanation." It is a better explanation than "goddidit." In my recent post, "William Lane Craig's Best Explanation Move for the Existence of God is Impotent," I pointed out that Craig's claim that the best explanation for the universe is god, and the best explanation for god is the universe--is viciously circular reasoning. I will be posting further arguments and support for the claim that the best explanation for the existence of the universe is "in its own nature."

My main argument proved that Craig's argument, "The Existence of Contingent Beings" fails. I provided further arguments and counter arguments in response to comments.

I do not have to "reinvent the wheel" as scientists and physicists have provided a viable and plausible alternative explanation to the explanation of "goddidit." In the argument presented above against Craig, that is all that is needed to show that Craig's argument fails.

The "pure act" argument was presented by Eric, and Eric himself provided the counter to his own argument, which I pointed out to him. That is, we can substitute the universe for god, which means we can substitute the universe for god in reference to "pure act." Furthermore, I addressed each of Eric's objections to this, and even provided an argument that was put forth by Alan Rhoda (again, I do not have to reinvent the wheel) that shows there is no inconsistency in the universe being in potency.

Therefore, as I stated above, and as Alan Rhoda's argument shows, the fact that the universe is expanding and is in potency would not rule it out from being "PURE ACT."

My argument, along with the argument put forth by Alan Rhoda, addressed Eric's argument even though it was not necessary to do so to explain the "best explanation," as all I needed to do was show that given Craig's P1, his P3 fails.

And since you cannot follow the argument, I will restate my conclusion for you again:

I do not know how the universe began, nor am I convinced that anybody else knows either. What I have shown is that one viable explanation of its existence is in its own nature! Craig's P3, limits the possible explanations of the universe to ONLY being an external cause. Therefore, I reject Craig's The Existence of Contingent Beings argument on the grounds that Craig's fails to prove P3.

cl said...

"Obviously, you cannot follow the arguments, or perhaps you do not understand what an argument is, and what a counter argument to that argument would be."

Get off it already. Your eagerness to denigrate your interlocutors is just a little suspicious.

"Your claim that my explanation would "turn science on its head" is not an argument."

Correct. It's an explanation of why I don't accept your argument.

"Also, my explanation is based on quantum physics, and the work done by physicists. Quantum physicists have provided scientific research which provides us with a viable, plausible explanation of the existence of the universe being "in its own nature.""

Blah blah blah more handwaving and allusion to unnamed scientists. Quantum physics has NOT provided evidence that the universe can escape it's own entropy.

"At present, it may be the "best explanation." It is a better explanation than "goddidit.""

Do I even have to explain that an opinion is not an argument? I thought you understood arguments?

"My main argument proved that Craig's argument, "The Existence of Contingent Beings" fails."

No it didn't. It proved only that you can redefine the universe to suit your needs.

"In the argument presented above against Craig, that is all that is needed to show that Craig's argument fails."

Correct, and you've not demonstrated the unsoundness of the argument.

"That is, we can substitute the universe for god, which means we can substitute the universe for god in reference to "pure act.""

Yeah, and like Eric and I both said, you can only do this if you have the most flagrant disregard for the Aristotleian terminology.

"...the fact that the universe is expanding and is in potency would not rule it out from being "PURE ACT." "

False. That which is in potency CANNOT be pure act. Think about it. This is a contradiction.

"I do not know how the universe began, nor am I convinced that anybody else knows either."

But you do know that God isn't a good explanation? Surely you can see why I don't take that seriously, right?

"What I have shown is that one viable explanation of its existence is in its own nature!"

Do pink unicorns exist if I assert them so and the preponderance of evidence suggests otherwise?

"Therefore, I reject Craig's The Existence of Contingent Beings argument on the grounds that Craig's fails to prove P3."

Show me one instance of a self-caused entity. That's all you would need to do to disprove P3. Further, I reject your claim, because you have failed to prove your premise, that the universe can be a self-caused entity. Naked denial cuts both ways, doesn't it?

nearenough said...

Nobody, ever, proves what "God" IS. Yes, they say it is the "creator" but that says what it does. It does not state what it is, of what it is composed, how it acts, how it can be directly detected. The Catholic Catechism says it is an invisible, incomprehensible mystery.
I hold that "God" is thought of, usually in childhood, but also by believers who care not to think too deeply about the matter, as a sky-man. A person floating up there somewhere who occasionally comes "down" to earth in human (a more visible) form; Jesus, Zeus, even half- human Ganesha, or Shiva (or some humanoid god with many arms).
They hold on to this anthropomorphic being dearly until as adults they become a little embarrassed by it, so then say it is a "spirit" which is the same as invisible. I can't see it but I know it is there. Pure emotional ranting.
So my take on the whole matter is that no one says what it is. THe word "God" is a cliche, and label, and stands for nothing. Even W L Craig does not bother to explain it, for he rides on popular sentiment which assumes something which is totally not in evidence.

Anonymous said...

This is not Craig's argument, per se. It is a form of the Leibnizian cosmological argument. Craig makes use of Stephen Davis's recent formulation.

Premise 1 is not entirely uncontroversial, but it's nowhere near as controversial as you make it out to be. In general, the principle of sufficient reason is somewhat controversial; but this more modest version is more likely than not. It only states that any existential fact (that is, a fact pertaining to the existence of a thing) has a reason or explanation.

That seems right. I can't think of a plausible case in which something exists with, literally, no explanation. That's not to say that we know it, but we assume that there is some explanation/reason.

However, if every existent must be explained in terms of some external cause or reason then we'd have an infinite regress. As you note, God or the universe itself or some natural universe generating mechanism could be explained as a necessary being.

The problem is that the universe is contingent. And it's entirely implausible that the reason for the existence of any contingent being is in itself! That would be tantamount to saying that contingent beings can cause themselves (since saying that their existence is a brute fact is no explanation at all).

So the only viable explanations for the universe (since it is a contingent being with a reason or explanation for its existences, on this plausible and modest version of the PSR) is God or a natural universe generating mechanism.

But universe generating mechanisms are, frankly, far less plausible than God and only to seem to be ad hoc rationalizations for avoiding a theistic inference. In fact, there cannot be any scientific evidence for such a thing since such a thing would reside beyond our natural world. The God hypothesis, on the other hand, is well-attested and has much broader explanatory scope.

It seems that this version of the Leibnizian argument puts the theist on much better footing that the atheist.

A is for Atheist said...

@Anonymous Part 1

Actually, this argument came straight from Craig as stated in his debated with Krauss, but you are right--it is not very original, as you pointed out.
I do not claim P1 is controversial--quite the contrary. I assume P1 is true, and then pointed out that P3 fails because it only recognizes one of the disjuncts, and ignores the other. According to P1, the explanation for the cause of the existence of the universe is either in its own nature or in an external cause. I think that the universe being "in its own nature" is a viable and as plausible, if not a better explanation than an external cause, such as a god. I think that given Quantum Physics and other supporting scientific theories, a natural universe generating mechanism is a viable, and plausible alternative and has much broader explanatory scope as it offers solutions to many problems and puzzles.

The God hypothesis is not well attested to. In fact, it would seem to me that there is no argument that proves any gods or goddesses exist. Furthermore, if we compare the god theory, to the scientific natural theory, and the H-D method, the god theory fails. For instance when we compare the demon theory to the germ theory, the germ theory does a much better job, and has a broader explanatory scope, and is not "ad hoc"--like the demon theory.

The key part to me is that a God not being contingent is based on the mere conditional statement 'If such a being exists, then that being would be necessary.' I can formulate the conditional 'If such a universe, as one that has a natural universe generating mechanism, exists, then that universe would be necessary.' Now, does the fact that I can conceive of such a universe mean that this universe exists and is not contingent?--No, nor is it in the case of any gods or goddesses. Furthermore, the proposition that 'god can be conceived but does not exist', entails the proposition 'if god existed', his nonexistence would be possible.

The proposition that 'God does not depend upon anything for coming into or continuing in existence' is logically necessary, is based on a Hebraic-Christian conception of God as a being which nothing greater can be conceived. From this, they conclude that any adequate definition of God must include or entail that he is dependent upon nothing whatsoever. But this is nothing more than a mere contingent assertion. It is only a necessary truth that IF such a God exists, then there is a being who neither comes into nor goes out of existence. It does not entail that such a being actually exist and is necessary, nor that such a being is in fact necessary.


I offer two universe generating mechanisms that are as are as plausible, if not more plausible than God. In fact they are very similar: Taoist and Quantum cosmology of the existence of the universe.

1. The Taoist have a similar conception of the universe as being:

1.The Tao is the mysterious, cosmic power present in all experiences. The Tao is found everywhere—the rocks, trees, seas, etc. Everything is alive with the spirit of Tao.



2. The Tao is impersonal, an invisible way that the universe follows, a harmony of tensions between opposites.

A is for Atheist said...

@ Anonymous part 2

3. The Tao is a natural force that makes the universe the way it is.

Taoism considers that universal evolution follows its own laws and is not the product of divine creation. Rather, it is the product of Spontaneous evolution under the control of the Great Tao.

Those Taoists who believe in Gods, believe that The highest divinity of Taoism, the Primeval Lord of Heaven, emerged during the evolutionary process, which he helps to push forward according to the circumstances.--note in this conception of God, God is conceived as being contingent. This God depends on the Tao!--Why should we accept the Christian definition of God over the Taoist definition of God.

According to Taoism, the Tao produce all things?

Tao produced the one.

The one produced the two

The two produced the three.

And the three produced the ten thousand things.

The ten thousand things carry the yin and embrace the yang, and through the blending of the material force (ch’i) they achieve harmony.25

So, there is a definite past of all things since they all originate from the Tao. Their evolution is from the simple to the complex: from the "one" that is the original material force that is produced by Tao to the Yin, the female principle, and the Yang, the male principle, and to the three, the blending of the Yin and then Yang with the material force. But all this is done by Tao in a spontaneous manner, that is, by doing nothing or wu-wei. "Tao invariably takes on action, and yet there is nothing left undone."26 Wu-wei does not mean doing absolutely nothing, but simply the naturalness of Tao, its effortless non-exerting way of bringing forth being from its nothingness or simplicity.

The movement of Tao, however, follows the law of reversion.27 When one thing reaches one extreme, it reverts to the opposite. In the end,



All things come into being,

And I see thereby their return.

All things flourish,

But each one returns to its root.

This return to its root means tranquility.

It is called returning to its destiny.

To return to destiny is called the eternal (Tao). . . .28

This conception is now supported and made more viable and plausible by quantum mechanics.

I have provided arguments above and web links to other cites that going into more details of quantum mechanics and the explanation of the existence of the universe being in its own nature to illustrate that it is a viable and plausible explanation, and perhaps even a better explanation than God.

I see no need to reinvent the wheel. So, I found another nice cite that I think sets out the arguments and history for the cause of the universe being in its own nature. It is

"The Reason the Universe Exists is that it Caused Itself to Exist" by, Quentin Smith. (http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/smith_reason_universe_exists.htm)

Anonymous said...

'QUANTUMMECHANICSDIDDIT!'

that, in a nutshell, is your 'illustration'.

you're not really a philosopher are you? i mean, this article reads like it was written by a child. your article is so flimsy and unsubstantiated that when i used it to wipe my ass, my hand went straight through and i got shit smears on my fingers. therefore, your writing was the cause of shit.

if you want my advice, piss this useless blog off into the ether, get your hand off your penis and go out and live in the world. who knows what you might find. you might even find god...before he finds you that is.

A is for Atheist said...

@ anonymous

Predictably and typically,you, as a Christian, who has NO REAL ARGUMENT against my post has resorted to ad hominem--how sad for you--but good for me.

Your comment illustrates to others that read the post that, hey, SHE must be right, because even Christians can't come up with a good counter against what she said!!

Thanks for that....:)

Anonymous said...

I recommend looking at Craig's Kalam Cosmological Argument:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I am unable to argue at this level, it gets too left field for me.
I often wonder though, where the notion of a god, or'God', and specifically the christian god, came from?
Without the bible would there even be a notion of Yahweh/Jesus? Methinks there may be a notion of a creator, perhaps, but then to demonstrate this idea without any textual reference I feel would soon see this notion disappear quite quickly.
Craig is a twit, and his apologetics often verge on lies.

Martin said...

The universe is easily shown not to be necessary:

1. The universe can be conceived to have been different, or a different universe in its place, without contradiction
2. Everything that can be conceived to be different without contradiction is contingent
3. Therefore, the universe is contingent

In fact, Craig spends multiple pages arguing why the universe is contingent in his book, but he does not have time in a debate format to get into these details.

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