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Reasonable Faith 3: The Existence of God (1)

02/10/2011

This section puts forth what seems to be a case for a first cause of sorts. A first mover, an answer to infinite regress, etc. I still find it tough to see how this can be considered God. Why is God a better explanation than something else? How can it be a proof that God exists, just because the universe had to be caused? There may very well be extra-temporal, not theistic causes that are just as beyond our understanding as a God would be. Since there are an infinite amount of these possibilities, and God is just one set of explanations, it’s seems unlikely that God is the correct explanation (and more unlikely that any particular/specific God is the correct explanation).

Still, Craig drops some sophisticated argumentation. I don’t think it’s good to go head to head with his rationale against infinite regress and such, but simply denying that a first cause is likely to be God successfully undercuts his whole line of argumentation. He’s smart as shit though.

Craig attempts to defend a personal cause of the universe by saying that only minds and abstract objects can exist outside of time. Abstract objects can’t cause anything, and minds can, therefore minds are the cause. I don’t see Craig able to defend that minds exist outside of time, in fact, there seems to be no evidence to support this conclusion, and evidence against this conclusion as well.

Craig also defends his conclusions against the objection that if a cause exists eternally, then the effect must exist eternally. He tries to escape this with “free will” but I don’t see that this does the trick. How can one have free will if he is unchanging, and eternally the same? A choice to make something must come from somewhere, and if that choice wasn’t there before, then it was, something changed. It seems akin to saying that God can break the rules because he’s “magical.”

So, these arguments from first cause, although interesting and deep, for basic reasons fail to establish a personal cause. There’s no evidence for this.

Kindle Notes:

God is the greatest conceivable being (1538).

Note: This argument, in calling God the “greatest” and counting greatness as including existence, simply defines God as existing, therefore God exists. Circular.

I would argue that God exists timelessly without creation and in time subsequent to creation (1888).

Note: Existence outside of time is unintelligible.

In fact, Dennett himself recognizes that a being “outside of time . . . is nothing with an initiation or origin in need of explanation. What does need its origin explained is the concrete Universe itself” (1903).

Note: Is it not possible that a cause outside of time be something other than God?

Everyone agrees that the commonsense view is that the difference between past, present, and future is real and objective, and as a result of over a decade of intensive research on this question my studied opinion is that there is no reason to abandon the commonsense view of this matter (2037).

Note: Most physicists think b theory is correct. An argument from commonsense is weak. This issue is crucial to Craig’s Argument, yet it reduces to fallacy.

literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the Universe originated at such a singularity, we would truly have a creation ex nihilo.” Thus, we may graphically represent spacetime as a cone (Fig. 3.2) (2150).

Note: Craig earlier talked about how the “nothing” that physicists talk about is not literally nothing. Here he changes his tune. It’s not really ex nihilo, but among the quantum foam of existence (like I know what the hell that means).

For the universe is, on the atheistic view, a gigantic closed system, since it is everything there is and there is nothing outside it (2368).

Note: Is that really true?

Now a first state of the universe cannot have a scientific explanation, since there is nothing before it, and therefore it cannot be accounted for in terms of laws operating on initial conditions. It can only be accounted for in terms of an agent and his volitions, a personal explanation (2564).

Note: Here’s where Craig jumps from first cause to personal first cause. I would argue that personhood does not make any sense either outside of time and space. What does it mean for something to “desire” or “want” or “create” or “act” outside of time?

Second, the personhood of the cause of the universe is implied by its timelessness and immateriality. The only entities we know of which can possess such properties are either minds or abstract objects, like numbers (2566).

Note: I do not see any evidence that minds exist timelessly or immaterially. In fact, all the evidence we have of how minds work demonstrates a very physical source. Timelessness gets rid of pretty much any coherent explanation.

Third, this same conclusion is also implied by the fact that we have in this case the origin of a temporal effect from a timeless cause. We’ve concluded that the beginning of the universe was the effect of a first cause. By the nature of the case, that cause cannot have any beginning of its existence or any prior cause. Nor can there have been any changes in this cause, either in its nature or operations, prior to the beginning of the universe. It just exists changelessly without beginning, and a finite time ago it brought the universe into existence (2569).

There seems to be only one way out of this dilemma, and that is to say that the cause of the universe’s beginning is a personal agent who freely chooses to create a universe in time (2592).

Note: This would still imply a change in desires. “Choosing” makes no sense outside of time. In addition, “free will” is an incoherent concept. On what grounds did he choose? For reasons, or for no reason? If for reasons, then he always had those reasons. If for no reason, then then choice is random, and implies that this “God” was not in ultimate control.

Given that time began to exist, the most plausible view of God’s relationship to time is that he is timeless without creation and temporal subsequent to creation (2645).

Note: Doesn’t this imply a changing God?

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