Friendly Atheist's blog and he literally copies Craig's arguments word for word by copying and pasting them because he knows nothing about actual science or philosophy. So it's good to have refutations of Craig's arguments already written so that they too can be copied and pasted in response to the lazy theist who is going to plagiarize someone else's argument. I mean hey, if they're too lazy to write their own argument themselves and resort to copying and pasting, then I'm justified in copying and pasting my response too.
So without further ado.....
I came across a piece Craig wrote in a Christianity Today article from 2008, in which he summarizes his repertoire of arguments for god, so I will use that article as my critique of his arguments.Craig lays out first, as he almost always does, the two versions of the cosmological argument. He's so predictable. Most of you already know the cosmological argument from contingency. I will just dive into my criticism of Craig's justification of its premises. The argument goes as follows:
1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
3. The universe exists.
4. Therefore, the explanation of the universe's existence is God.
Craig justifies premise 1 with an example:
Imagine that you're walking through the woods and come upon a translucent ball lying on the forest floor. You would find quite bizarre the claim that the ball just exists inexplicably. And increasing the size of the ball, even until it becomes co-extensive with the cosmos, would do nothing to eliminate the need for an explanation of its existence.
I've heard this story used many times to illustrate that the universe's existence needs an explanation. First of all, the analogy is flawed. upon seeing a translucent ball lying on the forest floor, of course we'd ask the question of how or why such a thing exists. But the difference with a translucent ball, and the universe is that we have no known experience with such a thing existing by natural means. All balls that we know of are man made. So we could ask, what is the ball made out of? Plastic? Well we know plastic is man made. But suppose it was made of some unknown substance. It would still have to be made up of atoms. Atoms are matter, and matter is just another form of energy, all of which would go back to the early universe. But now an interesting thought arises. If the translucent ball were shrunk, instead of expanded, to the size of a subatomic particle, like a virtual particle, then it is not at all hard to see how the ball could pop into existence with no apparent cause needed. And when you apply gravity to the laws of quantum mechanics, space and time can pop into existence and whole universes can be born from quantum fluctuations.
Now what's its explanation? The laws of physics make this possible. So the next step the apologist like Craig is going to go, is to ask where did the laws of physics come from. They might exist eternally of we might have a certain set of fundamental laws that we start with, that never truly "come into" existence, but that exist in every point in time. Or. the laws of physics come into existence as space time does. Or, as per the B-theory of time, the universe is eternal and there is no point in time where there aren't laws of physics and corresponding dynamics in which whole universes expand from quantum fluctuations.
Craig goes on to justify premise 2:
Premise (2) might at first appear controversial, but it is in fact synonymous with the usual atheist claim that if God does not exist, then the universe has no explanation of its existence. Besides, (2) is quite plausible in its own right. For an external cause of the universe must be beyond space and time and therefore cannot be physical or material.
Craig is ignoring in this argument that an external cause of the universe could be natural (i.e. another universe) and that this natural cause could be past eternal. like in certain multiverse models or loop quantum gravity. The contingency argument also presupposes the principle of sufficient reason, but what reason do we have for adopting the principle of sufficient reason? Without a good reason to do so, the principle treads near self-defeation. Hence, the theist must logically prove that there can be no brute facts.
Now there are only two kinds of things that fit that description: either abstract objects, like numbers, or else an intelligent mind. But abstract objects are causally impotent. The number 7, for example, can't cause anything.
This is an argument Craig makes all the time. It is not established that the universe needs a cause in the first place. As physicist Alexander Vilenkin has said, “In quantum physics, events do not necessarily have a cause, just some probability. As such, there is some probability for the universe to pop out of “nothing.” You can find the relative probability for it to be this size or that size and have various properties, but there will not be a particular cause for any of it, just probabilities.”
Therefore, it follows that the explanation of the universe is an external, transcendent, personal mind that created the universe—which is what most people have traditionally meant by "God."
Existing beyond space and time to me does not make sense for a being that thinks. How can anything think without time, or a brain? We have no evidence that disembodied minds can exist within space and time let alone without it. This is where the "logic" here goes off the deep end into fantasy land. The theist like Craig here is simply resorting to supernatural shenanigans in which they posit something that is actually logically contradictory - a timeless disembodied mind that somehow can think and cause things to exist, without time.
So then Craig moves onto the kalam cosmological argument, his cornerstone argument for theism.
1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Premise (1) certainly seems more plausibly true than its denial. The idea that things can pop into being without a cause is worse than magic. Nonetheless, it's remarkable how many nontheists, under the force of the evidence for premise (2), have denied (1) rather than acquiesce in the argument's conclusion.
What also seems more plausibly true than its denial is that things that have causes, have physical and temporal causes that precede their effects. But you cannot cause time prior to time existing, because that prerequisites time. And adopting the simultaneous causality idea opens up further problems for the theist like Craig who denies actual infinities. Hence, premise 1 is based on inductive logic, which is known to be problematic, and so its conclusion is naively based on our common sense observations that things we experience always seem to have causes. As I mentioned above, quantum mechanics violates this common sense notion.
Furthermore, the notion that everything that begins to exist requires a cause also has implications on the notion of traditional libertarian free will. For if a thought “begins to exist” in my mind, then it too must require a cause, otherwise it violates the first premise of the kalam. If my thought requires a cause, there must have been some kind of antecedent chain of events that lead to my thought being caused, like if for example, the atoms in my brain caused me to have that thought due to a regress of physical causes going back to the big bang. Such an idea would lead one to adopt determinism. But if my thought is not caused in such a manner, then it must begin to exist without a cause, and the first premise of the Kalam must therefore be false. And saying my “soul’ caused the thought only takes it one step back: What caused the soul to cause the thought?
What about premise 2? Since the steady state model died in the 1920s, the big bang model has been the dominant paradigm in cosmology. What does Craig have to write about this?
The Big Bang is so amazing because it represents the origin of the universe from literally nothing. For all matter and energy, even physical space and time themselves, came into being at the Big Bang.
Technically, the big bang model doesn't describe "the origin of the universe from literally nothing." Neither does inflationary theory. They both start with an infinitely small, infinitely dense singularity that undergoes a very rapid expansion. "Literally nothing" would include no god, no laws of physics, not even logic. The theist wants to keep a few of those things, so they must concede that absolute nothing cannot exist. For if there is no logic, one cannot appeal to the "logic" that says "something cannot come into being from nothing" regardless of whether it is true or not. That would be something. So I don't think the idea of absolute nothing is even possible. We're always going to have something - time, laws of logic, laws of physics - something. Think about it. If there's no time, then there's no time for "literally nothing" to exist. It wouldn't be a place that the universe comes "from" because it never existed. And if we truly could describe a universe or multiverse coming from literally nothing, there would be no requirement for a god.
Then Craig moves onto another one of his talking points:
In fact, in 2003 cosmologists Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin were able to prove that any universe that is, on average, in a state of cosmic expansion cannot be eternal in the past but must have had an absolute beginning.
Actual, no it doesn't say that "any" universe must have had an absolute beginning, it says "almost all" universes. See the theorem for yourself here. There was a recent skuffle between Craig and Krauss over the BVG theorem about how accurate it is and what the theorem assumes in it's formulation, which is classical spacetime. If classical spacetime breaks down at singularities, the BVG theorem might be incorrect. Aside from this, I don't have a problem with an absolute beginning in time. Both an absolute beginning and a past infinity of time both are hard to contemplate for any finite mind such as ours, but a past infinity is not logically impossible if one jettisons the presentist view on time and adopts an eternalist view whereby every moment is "now."
I could go on but I've gotten bored with this for now. But I will surely be critiquing more theistic arguments soon enough.