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June 30, 2014

Comments

Hi Brad - I choose to live in the tension of continually revisiting Scripture to glean insights from it, and not necessarily being rigid in my approach since times, audiences, purposes, and cultures change. I believe proper contextual knowledge of what was clearly meant for the original audience is necessary, and that helps us to know what is meant for us and what was meant for the original audience.

For example, certain Christians will hold that the Bible is applicable to all men for all time. Except that it's not, and we all know that. Otherwise, we'd still be sacrificing animals in the Temple. Old Covenant laws do not apply to us. I wouldn't use the word "arbitrary," but it is important to know what was specifically meant for the original audience, and what transcends time and applies to all men. Careful study will tell us that. When Jesus uses the pronoun "you," for example, it is important to know who the "you" is; it is not always "us," specifically in Matthew 24 when he is telling his listening audience what they should expect to see and experience. That "you" is them, not us, as was borne out in 70 A.D. with the destruction of Jerusalem and all Old Covenant elements which many of Jesus' listeners would live to see.

Another example are some of Paul's writings, which reflect a patriarchal worldview and culture, therefore placing passages like I Timothy 2:11 squarely in the past. This is simply a hermeneutical approach.

So, in short, I can say I believe the Bible is the Word of God, except when it's not. Though I am not a Bible scholar, the hermeneutical approach is standard operating procedure for Bible scholars with no allegiance to any particular church doctrine. In other words, go where the evidence leads without fear that it might contradict a previously held belief.

Ben, when I was a young atheist, decades ago, we were desperately clinging to the eternal universe and/or the oscillating universe as a way to escape the 2nd premise of Kalam. Sadly, Big Bang, and more recently, BGV, have shown how badly we were mistaken.

The New Atheists are most frantic to find a way around these two rock-solid supports for the 2nd premise, so they are inventing the unseen and un-see-able multiverse as a way around the universe having a beginning. Talk about desperation! It reminds me of Darwinists inventing panspermia when they discovered that life cannot magically spring from non-life! So, the New Atheists are really grasping at straws to find a way around Big Bang and BGV, because they know that the Kalam argument is 100% prepositionally logical, and its conclusions MUST follow if its two premises are true. They have to attack the premises - the logic itself is unassailable.

Atheists have attacked Kalam for centuries and will continue to do so. That is not a sign of its weakness, but a sign of its strength. If Kalam were such a poor argument, as you falsely assert, there would be no need to attack or defend its second premise. (First premise attacks are particularly weak and always lead one down the road of scientific nihilism, a rather strange place for the supposedly "rational" atheist to find himself.)

Ben, in your quieter moments, have you never really asked yourself "why is there something rather than nothing?" I KNOW you have, because we all do. That was the tipping point for me: I kept saying to myself "because a lot of famous atheists say it just is." But, eventually, that unsupported assertion got me. I needed to have my beliefs based on science, logic, etc, not on the pure blind faith of a toddler that the atheistic position held.

And, that, my friend, is what Kalam is all about. Christians have the answer to the question of why there is something rather than nothing: it is found in the first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1. And, it is fully consistent with the science, math, physics, and logic of Big Bang and BGV as support for the second premise of Kalam.

WorldGoneCrazy,

All you have presented in support of theism is a single, bad argument: the Kalam. (In this context, the BGV theorem and big bang cosmology are just elements of the Kalam.) Why is it such a bad argument? I shouldn't have to tell you, since it's well-documented in the literature. You should go read that for yourself.

But, let's look now anyway. Craig defends premise (1) with three subarguments. First, he claims that "something cannot come from nothing," which on his view is just a modal strengthening of (1). But, in this first subargument he just appeals to intuition and rhetoric. He doesn't actually ARGUE for the modal strengthening. He just asserts it, and charges that anyone who doubts it is not in his right mind. Obviously, this will not do.

Second, he claims that if something could come from nothing then it would be inexplicable why anything and everything does not come from nothing, on pain of assigning properties to nothingness. Well, as philosophers like Oppy has pointed out, it's just not true that such an explanation would require us to assign properties to nothingness. Craig's sub-subargument here is simply a nonsequitur. Moreover, there is nothing illicit or otherwise bad about having inexplicable facts. So even if Craig's sub-subargument about nothingness having properties goes through (and it doesn't), we still don't get to infer (1).

Craig's final sub-argument for (1) alleges that we have some kind of inductive, experiential support. Craig himself acknowledges that this is the weakest of the three subarguments for (1), and it's easy to see why. There is something obviously and strikingly different about saying that we observe causes INSIDE the universe on one hand, and on the other hand that there must always be causes OUTSIDE the universe. After all, causes are based on regularities and time. But if there are no regularities or time outside the universe, then there cannot be outside causes in any conventional sense. So, Craig might be impressed by his inductive argument, but it's doubtful that many people who don't already accept the causal principle will be persuaded by it. I certainly am not.

Notice that Craig NOWHERE alleges that the causal principle is necessary to do science, or any other kind of similarly ridiculous nonsense. That is your own strange belief, unsupported by any evidence or reason.

So, here we have seen why Craig's case for premise (1) of the Kalam doesn't hold up. I'm more sympathetic to premise (2), although it's worth noting that Craig's subarguments for (2) are just as flawed as his subarguments for (1). I'm not going to get into that here, but suffice it to say that Oppy and Morriston have both shown in detail why Craig's successive addition and Hilbert's Hotel subarguments fail. (Recall that these subarguments get re-used in his case for the alleged cause of the universe being a personal God.) I'm not as well-versed in Craig's so-called "scientific" subarguments based on BGV theorem and thermodynamics, but at first glance, it looks like his debate with Sean Carroll is a good place to start.

In sum, if you want to believe that the universe had a beginning, go ahead! I myself believe that. But don't pretend it's because of some kind of philosophical support, because there is none such. And go ahead and believe that everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence. I do NOT share that belief, and nobody has a good argument that it is true. But you can believe it anyway if you like.

You can even believe that God exists. But, again, let's not pretend you have any good reason for your belief. You just believe it, period. Or perhaps you have been bamboozled by Craig and other apologists into falsely thinking you have a good reason in the form of the Kalam. Either way, you shouldn't be surprised when skeptics don't take your belief seriously. I mean, come on man. An unembodied mind that creates the universe using supernatural powers? Really? Well, to each his own, I suppose.

Hi Perry, I appreciate the thoughts and clarifications. I dont have any issues regarding every Christian being diligent and inquiring Bible reader. Not all are called and gifted to be teachers. You are to be commended for your diligence and inquisitiveness. I sense a little bit of lone ranger-ness in your posts but that may be just me reading into what you write.

On the issue of the Moses' accounting of the flood, it seems to me that this is not an area where you are free to say "except when it's not". My initial concern was that you'd say that the flood account is definitely not inspired, true, and worthy of acceptance--based on contradictory physical evidence or some other metric. That may or may not also be, but you so far are offering a different defense.

I suspect that most of passages you would demerit have legitimate coherent support for being legitimately the Word of God using the analogy of faith, but that you just haven't been exposed to those who demonstrate a calling by giving you reasonable defense of the Word of God with competence. This is no slight on you.

In the final reconing, even the called teachers, those who have proved their calling are also subject to the coherent whole Word of God. Part of the external evidence that the Bible is divine and unique is that it has internal coherence in a compilation--66 books, 40 authors, thousands of years...etc...many great thinkers have recognized it and defended it ably. Although your revealed position is less divergent than what it seemed at first stated, I hope you find reason to side with historic Christianity

OK, Ben: since you will not accept science, math, philosophy. and logic, please provide your "more reasonable" explanation for why there is something rather than nothing.

Oh, and Ben, please provide a single piece of empirical evidence for something popping into existence uncaused out of nothing in your magical, fairytale world. In that way, you can offer support for refuting Axiom 1 of Kalam, which is required of you. I really wish to know how your blind faith in a-theism is justified.

You not only believe in magic, you believe in something far worse: magic without a hat and without a Magician. :-) Again, I do thank God you aren't designing airplanes: such unscientific, and downright cultish, thinking does not cut it in the real world.

WorldGoneCrazy,

Repeating your unjustified claims over and over isn't going to help. I've explained in some detail why the Kalam is a bad argument. If you think I'm wrong, then you can provide counter-arguments.

Meanwhile, I have no need to provide evidence that premise (1) is false. It is enough to show that (1) is unjustified, which I have already done above. Do you understand the distinction between unjustified and false? I hope so. And as it stands, premise (1) is just another unjustified claim. It goes in the box alongside all your other unjustified claims.

By the way, I did work for a few weeks on a Boeing aircraft engine design :P

"They have to attack the premises - the logic itself is unassailable."

WGC...hope it's ok to abbreviate like with WL. When you wrote this, I didn't comment but I thought to myself that you'll soon find out that with Ben and his champions, the logic is assailable because they dont find logic to be similarly constraining. If Ben were to be consistent, he'd also scrutinize lots of other things he cannot justify at the level he dismisses Kalam and dismiss them also as unjustified--mocking them also along the way ala...

"An unembodied mind that creates the universe using supernatural powers? Really?"

When you say "nothing", they dont understand it as nothing and yet all the while holding to a material world...a world that cannot know immaterial until nothing doesn't mean nothing. I doubt the they even flinch during this slight of hand because this isn't the only area where it happens. Good luck to you.

Brad B,

I'm fine with logical argumentation. In fact, that's exactly what I require, and what theists are unable to produce in support of their beliefs.

If you think I'm being logically inconsistent, then you are welcome to show me the logical inconsistency. Until then, that claim goes in the box too, along with all the other unjustified claims I've seen in this thread.

Also, there is nothing mocking in what I wrote. That God is an "unembodied mind" is straight from Craig's phraseology. I just think it's obviously irrational to believe that there is such a thing. Of course, what is obvious to one person is not always obvious to another, else we wouldn't be here on this website.

Hi Ben, you are fine with logical argumentation up to a point...or maybe I should say down to a point. It is ultimate, foundational propositions that you dont have. We've been through it before, cant/wont here now but what WGC is saying points to logical inconsistency.
1. if nothing...then nothing always and forever/ultimately
2. something is
3. something had a beginning-you admit also
4. nothing could not logically cause some thing, anything...it is no-thing.
5. this is kindergarten, self evident to anyone who "will" see it.

[3.(a)alternatively/additionally if something has the power of self existence, there could not be a time when it was not.]

I anticipate "well it's not self evident to me" response.

Brad B,

Reading the above comment, it looks like you don't understand Craig's formulation of the Kalam argument. When Craig says "something cannot come from nothing," he's just asserting a modal strengthening of the causal premise. In other words, he thinks it's equivalent (in some sense) to "necessarily, everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence." In particular, the phrase "come from nothing," on Craig's view, is equivalent to the phrase "begins to exist uncaused."

In contrast, it sounds like you are imagining a time where nothing existed. You then assert that, under such conditions of nothingness, it's impossible for anything to suddenly begin to exist. But that is not part of Craig's argument. Indeed, it's hard to see what we could MEAN by suggesting that, at some time t, nothing exists. In other words, if nothing else exists, I do not understand how time could exist.

Maybe I have misunderstood you though. I'm just trying to interpret your comment about, "if nothing...then nothing always and forever/ultimately" (elipsis original). It seems like you are trying to say that if nothing exists at time t, then nothing will exist for all time after t. But, again, that's not part of Craig's argument, nor is it part of any other argument I know for the existence of God.

But you're a presuppositionalist, right? Do you even value arguments for the existence of God? Presuppositionalists (of the Bahnsen tradition) usually hold that we must presuppose the existence of the Christian God. Whenever they actually offer an argument, it's usually against a particular person's views on morality and epistemology, and not FOR the existence of God. (Though, often the presuppositionalist fails to understand that an argument against Joe Atheist's epistemology is not the same as an argument for the existence of the Christian God!)

Hi Ben, I'm pretty sure I dont have a firm grasp on WLC's formulation or some of the subtleties therein. I respect and appreciate his efforts and abilities as a philospher but not so much his theological leanings so I dont read too much of his production--just not enough time or I probably would.

Also, my lack of precision notwithstanding[regarding a time "t" when there is no-thing being hard to imagine-I agree]for an imperisist to reason that no-thing can produce or cause some-thing or itself is irrational. No equivocation on terms allowed. When I say no-thing, I mean no material and / or immaterial thing. Christians dont even reason that about God, nor does the Bible suggest anything that would support such reasoning. IOW, God didn't create/cause Himself...this would be just as irrational and so conversely: if ever no-thing, never any-thing is necessarily true.

My comment meant to focus on that one point. Under this constraint, the logic at this one point is as WCG stated earlier "unassailable".

Should have spelled "emperisist" at second paragraph...not "imperisist"--some kind of imperialist? Not sure what I was thinking...I spelled it that way on purpose.

Well, the one thing I WILL say is this: it is quite interesting to me that old atheists like myself would never have tried to attack premise 1 of Kalam without serious justification, because of the road it leads one down. If things popped into existence uncaused ex nihilo, then it would be impossible to design anything, much less an aircraft. "Captain, a pink elephant just appeared in font of our cockpit: what shall we d... aaarrrgh!" :-)

So, because it IS possible to design things with some certainty on requirements, those of us who had to put up or shut up (engineers) would never have even attempted to deny premise 1 without empirical evidence. We would have been laughed out of the preliminary design reviews, and then summarily fired. And welfare was not as popular in those days. :-)

However, the New Atheists really have no choice but to attack premise 1, because all the evidence (Big Bang, BGV) overwhelmingly points to premise 2 as being true and there is really no evidence (including the multiverse) that gets around this. Theories, yes. Evidence, no. For that reason, I give you the utmost credit and praise for your intellectual honesty, Ben, in conceding premise 2 for whatever reason. You are clearly a different, higher, breed of New Atheist.

And, the reasons that the NA's have to go after premise 1 is that the logic truly IS unassailable. The frightening Kalam conclusion MUST follow if the premises are both true. This is sophomore level predicate logic, and I am not aware of any atheist who thinks otherwise.

One more thing, Ben: I do hereby apologize to you personally and publicly for being so snarky in my replies. That was uncalled for, and I hope that you will forgive my excessive zeal. Keep looking at premise 1 and please keep asking yourself why there is something rather than nothing. If there is a Creator God, as I say there is, then He will most certainly and abundantly reward a sincere searching for truth. And yours does seem quite sincere to me. Blessings!

WGC,

Neither Big Bang nor any other physics is any support to Kalaam.

There is no physics of nothing.

There are no observations of nothing.

There is no theory of nothing.

Ben is comfortable with (and has said as much I believe), “Dead bodies do not come back to life after 3 days”. But he’s uncomfortable with, “Things just don’t pop into existence uncaused.”

What’s the difference between those in his opinion I wonder?

Isn’t he just appealing to “intuition and rhetoric” with the former?

RonH, well, THAT certainly clears things up! :-) Long on assertion, short on reasoning. I wondered where you went - now I know. God Bless you!

Even Ben, and most other atheists acknowledge that all of the evidence (Big Bang, BGV) is in support of premise 2 of Kalam, that the universe had a beginning. That is precisely why New Atheists have to attack premise 1, unlike my generation of atheists, who desperately clung to the myths of eternal and/or oscillating universes. You are more than welcome to provide evidence (not speculative theories) that refute premise 2 of Kalam, but until you trump Big Bang and BGV, you will continue to lose on that one.

Well put, KWM! Thank you for bringing the Resurrection into this! We had barely even mentioned the Minimal Facts Argument for the Resurrection. Obviously, you just don't have enough (blind) faith to be an atheist! :-) (With apologies to Geisler and Turek)

WorldGoneCrazy,

It's a bit misleading to say that I "concede" premise (2) of the Kalam. I simply happen to believe it, because it seems right to me. In other words, my intuition tells me that (2) is true. But I don't have a good argument for (2), and more importantly, neither does anyone else.

In particular, I don't see BGV or the Big Bang as lending support to premise (2). After all, the universe could extend back further than the big bang singularity. And, the requisite conditions for the BGV may not hold, in which case the theorem is useless. (This is surely part of the reason, for instance, Alan Guth himself, for whom the Borde-Guth-Vilenken Theorem is named, during Craig's debate with Sean Carroll declared that the universe, in his opinion, probably does NOT have a beginning.)

But although the big bang and BGV theorem don't do the job, at least cosmology is the right place to look for support. Craig's two "philosophical" arguments, in contrast, are hopelessly confused and nonsensical, and have nothing whatsoever going for them. His confusion has been explained in some detail by Oppy (who parses his successive addition argument) and Morriston (who explains the Hilbert's hotel/infinite library argument).

So, it's not as if I'm committed to premise (2). My intuition tells me it is true, but if my intuition ever changes, I am perfectly free to follow it. Much like Guth follows his.

WorldGoneCrazy,

You've got me just where you want me.

All you have to do is show me the physics - a theory or observation of nothing and I will have to admit my error.

Should be no problem.

RonH

Ok, I went and read some of the critiques of Craigs argument, from what I've seen, he's dealt faithfully and forthrightly with the challenges and quite frankly, I think some of the challenges are down right nonsense. I dont claim to understand all of the details of some of the more vexing challenges but one thing I cant quite let go is that everyone seems to be winking at equivocation of "nothing".

I brought this up earlier as an inconsistency in materialist conclusions that nothing can produce something...how can a materialsist speak of "nothing"...he cant see/measure/weigh/sense in any way nothing. So now I see RonH again hold the strict line that physics cant say anything about nothing. This seems to me to be consistent with philosophical and methodological naturalism-aka the modern scientific methodology. Maybe materialsit isn't the right designation?

I think a non materialsist can use physics coherently and from known/sensed phenomena, by inference reason to know behind, underneath, or prior to theorize rational conclusions that if prior understanding of evidence is true so are the conclusions.

???

So now I see RonH again hold the strict line that physics cant say anything about nothing.

I don't think I'm taking a strict line.

I'm just saying physics is silent about nothing - as far as I know.

Maybe it's even incoherent to think that physics could say something about nothing.

How would that look?

For physics to say something about nothing?

But let that go: All you have to do is show me where physics says anything about nothing and I'll have to shut up.

Right?

You could find me reports of observations of nothing.

You could find me properties of nothing in a theory that predicts something we can observe.

Or maybe something else.

Until then I'll lean on my other sources - sources other than Brad B - and continue thinking that physics is silent about nothing.

Still waiting for someone to provide evidence, not speculative theories, to refute premise 1 of Kalam. Also, still waiting for someone to provide positive evidences or arguments for the superior plausibility of a-theism to theism.

Until then, I will hang my hat on Kalam (with premise 2 supported by Big Bang and BGV), teleology, the Moral Argument, and the a-theist can hang his hat on ... nothing. (But, blind faith, of course.)

WorldGoneCrazy,

You are welcome to hang your hat on bad arguments. Nobody can stop you from doing that. But, they are still going to be BAD ARGUMENTS.

I've explained already some of the reasons why Kalam is such a bad argument. Evidently, you did not understand the criticisms, because your response is to just repeat that you really like the Kalam. So, I'm not going to spend any time discussing the teleological or moral arguments with you. If you want to know what's wrong with those then you can do a Google search.

But clearly you don't want to know. Instead, you'd rather pretend that these arguments provide good, solid evidence for your religious beliefs. Fine with me, I suppose.

WGC,

Neither BB nor BGV speak to creation out of nothing.

No physics does that.

Physics is also silent on actual destruction without a trace (destruction ad nihilum?).

Your demand for evidence, then, is satisfied in the following way: If physics did support premise 2 we'd expect by now for you to have shown it. You haven't. Absence of expected evidence.

I recognize that you are very convinced here.

Since it's not physics that supports your premise 2, it must be something else you are bringing in that you mistake for physics. I won't pretend to know what that is. It's up to you to think about that.

I see that nether one of you, Ben or RonH, have provided positive evidence for a-theism. You have just said that the arguments for theism are "bad," (your subjective opinion) without providing any evidential support for same. So, that is why you are hanging your hats on "nothing" (what we Christians mean when we say that we do not have enough blind faith to be an atheist) and that you can't provide any coherent answer to the question why there is something rather than nothing. "There just is" stopped satisfying me at about the age of 4. You two are older than 4, right? :-)

I guess I am really surprised at the incoherence of the arguments coming from the New Atheists. At least we "old atheists" had eternal and/or oscillating universes to cling to - but no more! Ben, it was nice to see that you are the rare atheist who admits that the universe had a beginning. Keep searching - there is hope for you yet! You are premise 1 away from becoming a theist. At least have the intellectual honesty to move to true agnosticism, not the phony kind that the "New Atheists" always retreat to once they are called to provide evidence for a-theism.

RonH, I wish I could get through to you. BB and BGV support premise 2 - that the universe had a beginning, not premise 1. Even Ben believes premise 2. (Ask him why!) To deny premise 1 just means you aren't allowed to work as a productive engineer, designing cool stuff. :-) If you could refute premise 1 evidentially, you could deny it. But, all the empirical data shows it to be true - thus far. So, it is more plausible to accept premise 1 than deny it: all evidence points to it and none refutes it. That's plausibility.

So, yes, I do sincerely believe that Kalam is rational and plausible (I am not alone :-)), and certainly more legit than "it just is!' or "the universe created itself!" or "a model of the universe created the universe!" or "because a pink elephant can pop into existence out of nothing!" :-) And, that, my good friends, is why I de-converted from the blind faith religion of atheism to theism and then, ultimately, to Christianity.

I see that nether one of you, Ben or RonH, have provided positive evidence for a-theism.

Let's remember that the burden is on the one making the claim.

You: Physics gives evidence for creation.

Me: Show me that evidence or withdraw that claim.

It's your move!

Where did you got the idea that physics says anything about nothing?

Point me to that source and we can talk about it.

RonH: where did I say "physics gives evidence of creation?" I said that BB and BGV are evidential support for premise 2 of Kalam. And, most atheists agree with that, which is why (unlike my generation), new atheists attack premise 1.

The data which supports premise 1 is not physics per se, but empirical evidence over the lives of everyone which shows no single verifiable instance of something popping into existence uncaused. (I mean, it's worse than magic, because, there wouldn't even be a Magician.)

The burden of proof is on you in Kalam. You have to refute premise 1 or premise 2, because the conclusion NECESSARILY flows from those two premises. The logic is unassailable. I provided physics data for premise 2 and experiential data for premise 1. If you attempt to refute premise 1, you must provide evidence (experiential, empirical, physical, etc) that shows something popping into existence uncaused.

Furthermore, since I am the one who has provided a case for theism, the burden of proof is now on you to provide evidence for a-theism. You can't say "Your argument for theism is not 100% perfect, and I have nothing to offer for a-theism, but I think it's rational to be an a-theist." I mean, you CAN say it, but that just says you are an absurdist or nihilist - either way, not good.

The big question is plausibility here. We are not in a situation when I have to produce God or He doesn't exist. We are in a situation in which we are weighing the relative plausibility of theism vs. a-theism.

(sigh)

I see that nether one of you, Ben or RonH, have provided positive evidence for a-theism.
Let's remember that the burden is on the one making the claim.
You: BB and BGV are evidential support for premise 2 of Kalam.

Me: Show me that evidence or withdraw that claim.

It's your move!

Where did you got the idea that physics says anything about 'The universe has a beginning of its existence'?

Point me to that source and we can talk about it.

Show me a reason why any physics is support for premise 2.

WorldGoneCrazy,

I asked you before if you understood the difference between false and unjustified. It's easy to show that premises (1) and (2) are both unjustified, and indeed this has been done, both here in the comments, and also in the philosophical literature. You have demanded instead we show that they are false. This is an impossible task, but entirely unnecessary. It is quite enough to observe that (1) and (2) are unjustified.

This is what RonH means when he says that the burden is on YOU to show that the premises are true. We don't need to show that they are false.

Unfortunately, you can't meet your burden. You have no good reasons for believing premises (1) or (2). You think that (1) is necessary to do science, but it's not. Then you think that BGV theorem and big bang cosmology support (2), but they don't. Both of these problems have been explained in previous comments. You haven't responded substantively to either criticism.

And this is just the first step of the Kalam argument. In order to support theism via a cause of the universe, you would still need to show that the cause is identical to God. But let's not go there just yet. First, let's see the evidence for premises (1) and (2). And remember, what you have presented so far just doesn't cut it.

RonH: BB and BGV provide evidence that the universe has a beginning (~13.8 billion years ago). It's that simple. It's what the overwhelming majority of atheistic scientists believe. And that is premise 2. You can go against them, but not without data, because the atheists are the ones who gave us Christians this wonderful supply of scientific data! So, we are taking your data, running with it, and using it against you. Thank you a-theists!!! :-)

Also, you and Ben are 100% wrong in assuming that the burden of proof is solely on me. You are a-theists. You cannot be intellectually honest and say "you have not produced God for me (with mathematical or scientific certainty) and while I have shown nothing for the case of "no God," therefore, I believe that the evidence lies with "no God."" That would be like me saying that "you have not proven with 100% certainty your hypothesis of "no God," and while I have not provided evidence for God, I choose to believe in God." What silliness!

You young New Atheists are always forgetting this - unlike us old atheists. I have tried to explain to you guys that, since I cannot prove with 100% certainty that God exists and you cannot prove with 100% certainty that God does not exist, it becomes a question of plausibility, i.e., which side has the better argument?

Is it more plausible to believe that an all-powerful God created the universe or that:
1. The universe popped into existence uncaused and out of nothing?
2. Life miraculously sprang forth from non-life?
3. Minds magically appeared from non-mental substances? (Without a Magician!)
4. Objective moral values miraculously evolved from amoral matter?

There's your blind faith! But, since you won't believe this from me, here is another way of pointing this out to the a-theist. I pray you can follow this. If not, then you are admitting to be mere agnostics with a psychological condition: http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/does-atheism-mean-a-lack-of-belief-in-god-2/

Ben, you have taken unreasonableness to new heights, despite correctly believing that the universe has a beginning. You have Googled some arguments, discovered that there are objections to some of the premises and concluded that the arguments are therefore bad arguments. That view is self-refuting and would be like me saying that because the objections themselves have objections, the first objections are necessarily bad! You are looking for 100% proof, and when you don't get it, you relax back into your a-theism, without realizing that your view requires positive explanations and burden of proof as well! Mind boggling!

God bless you both!

WGC,

It's not about 100% certainty. If you could just show that it is slightly more likely than not that God exists, that would be huge! Seriously, it would be a staggeringly significant result. But nobody has been able to do that. So forget certainty. Nobody has been able to show that it is even just slightly more likely than not that God exists.

Now, I think you further misunderstood what I meant by you bearing the burden of proof. You are correct to observe that, if I wanted to justify atheism then I would have a burden of proof too. But I'm not doing that. I'm not trying to justify my atheism, or convince you that atheism is true. Instead, I'm explaining why the Kalam is a bad argument. So, in that context, it is enough to observe that the premises of the Kalam are unjustified. In other words, I don't need to show that they are false. Instead, you need to show that they are true---something you have tried and failed to do.

Of course, you are free to argue that atheism is unjustified too, but that's a different topic, and one not in dispute. In my estimation, atheism and theism are BOTH unjustified. If you think that means we should be agnostics, fine. I disagree, but I'm not interested in arguing agnosticism vs. atheism. However I am very interested in the Kalam argument, which is why I have engaged you. It seems clear to me that the Kalam is a terrible, awful argument, for reasons among which I gave previously.

And no, it's not because I have seen objections. Rather, it's because I have seen good, compelling objections. And---again---I have explained some of these above.

WGC,

What exactly does physics say about 13.8 billion years ago?

Does physics say there was nothing and then something?

Show me.

This is what I have been asking you.

What exactly does the physics actually say?

All you have to do is find where it says there was nothing and then something and I'll have to admit that physics supports premise 2.

So...?

The issue here is the relative plausibility of theism versus a-theism. If you desire to introduce doubts in my theism (the subject matter of this posting), you MUST introduce positive evidence to do so.

You cannot refute premise 1, right? Premise 1 is actually a pretty mainstream view of things. You are too young to remember this movie, but in the Sound of Music where Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer are in that famous romantic gazebo scene, she sings "Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could." This is a more beautiful statement of "Out of nothing, nothing comes," which is the mainstay of scientific thought. As a spacecraft designer, I never even considered attempting to satisfy requirements for hazards that might randomly pop into existence uncaused. Engineering, and the science that grounds it, takes premise 1 as an axiom. In order to refute premise 1, one validated piece of evidence (not speculation) is all you need. Thus far, no one has been able to supply it. Until then, premise 1 stands on scientific and experiential grounds.

Big Bang demonstrates quite remarkably that the universe has a beginning. It is what old atheists like me feared the most when we were desperately clinging to eternal and/or oscillating universes. Sadly, Big Bang closed the door on us, and the BGV Theorem slammed it shut. Premise 2 stands on solid scientific grounds.

So, both premise 1 and premise 2 are HIGHLY plausible under scientific, not religious, knowledge, and that means that it is HIGHLY plausible that the universe was created by a First Uncaused Cause. (In fact, either this Cause must be eternal, or the universe must be eternal. Sadly, for atheists, all the science points to a universe with a beginning and therefore a Cause. That sounds suspiciously like Genesis 1:1. We Bible-thumpers answer the most fundamental question of human interest in our very first verse. :-))

Now, what are the necessary metaphysical characteristics of this First Uncaused Cause? From this, I must borrow from William Lane Craig's excellent exegesis: "... as the cause of space and time, this entity must transcend space and time and therefore exist atemporally and non-spatially... This transcendent cause must therefore be changeless and immaterial...beginningless and uncaused... unimaginably powerful...plausibly taken to be personal." William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, 2008. In fact, these characteristics sound strikingly similar to the same metaphysical features of the Biblical God.

As for your burden of proof, all you have to show to bring forth plausibility of a-theism, is that there is no god, as in Carl Sagan's (I was a HUGE Sagan fan in my atheist days - read all of his books, multiple times.) famous quote, "The cosmos is all there is, or was, or ever will be." He made the assertion, you just have to supply positive evidence for me to believe his assertion in order for me to think that a-theism is more plausible than theism.

Find some physics that actually says something about nothing.

The rest is just writing practice.

Fascinating comments. You may be interested in a BBC series called Honest Doubt: The History of an Epic Struggle which available on http://www.spokenworldaudio.com/honestdoubt.html It asks how Christian and agnostic writers and thinkers experience doubt

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