WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

Craig's arguments for God, Pt 2

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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#61  Postby Allemann » Apr 23, 2011 9:46 pm

Paul Almond wrote:One of the big pieces of dishonesty with William Lane Craig's argument - and I think it is the biggest - is one that is common to many theistic arguments:


Dishonesty means intentional deceiving. I don't see Craig doing that. He sincerely believes in what he argues. Whom does he deceive and for what purpose?

there is the assumption that personal entities have some special ontological status - that, somehow, just by being "personal" or a "mind", what is expected of a thing is utterly different from what is expected of everything else. In this way, the theist can erect problems that appear to have no solution until a personal entity, with its special ontological status, is parachuted in.


It's plainly obvious that personal agents bring about effects exclusively dependent on them for their actualization. Personal agents compose music, write novels, produce artificial object like computers, cars, and violins, create and dissolve political states, make scientific breakthroughs, etc. Can you even speculate what impersonal processes can also produce these effects? On a more abstract level Craig uses the same reasoning when arguing that the cause of the universe is a personal being. It is completely legitimate that you or anybody else initiates a critical discussion about the validity of Craig's reasoning, but in no way can Craig be accused of dishonesty for doing it. Logically, it has no bearing on whether Craig is right or wrong. It's an ad hominem.

Let's assume (and I'm not saying that there is: this is just for the purpose of argument) that the world of space and time that we know is not everything - that there must be something outside this. Let's also assume that an explanation for the existence of the world of space and time must have an explanation that is based on something "outside". So far, we are not even close to requiring a god: all we have done is said that space and time is not everything and that an explanation of our world goes beyond space and time. So what? Some speculative cosmologies already entertain this idea. There is no reason to assume that anything like this would have to be beyond our understanding, or "supernatural" in any profound sense - in the way that theists use the word: we would simply have a lot more stuff - some of it non-spatio-temporal.


The existence of immaterial entities doesn't refute atheism; platonic ideas are perfectly compatible with a godless universe. But contemporary atheism is based around naturalism and physicalism which a priori exclude everything that doesn't have physical properties e.g. extension, mass, solidity. When one accepts just the first part of the Kalām - a transcendent cause of the universe - one must make the concession that naturalism is false. The majority of atheists don't want to pay that ontological price. Your hypothetical scenario is as unpalatable as theism to many.

At this point Craig can throw in his usual nonsense about how actual infinities cannot exist. If reality was extended in some way that went beyond the spatial and the temporal, wouldn't we just have the same problem? e.g. suppose the explanation of the observable universe is some non-spatio-temporal entity A. What explains A? B? What explains B? etc.

Now, we could just allow some non-spatio-temporal entity that wasn't personal to just exist, outside causality itself, and not requring any cause- but Craig is obviously going to require that it has some explanation. He won't require such an explanation of his God.


Craig and most of philosophers will tell you that God, if he exists, is a metaphysically necessary being. The explanation of God's existence is internal to him, in his own nature.

Further, we might say that there was an endless reality out there beyond space and time, with things being explained by still more things, etc. Craig would simply say that this was an actual infinity - but he gives his god a special status that escapes this. God is supposed to magically evade all these problems, purely by being a personal entity.


See above. God has that special status by being a necessary entity.

We are supposed to accept God on his own terms without thinking that his own existence implies an actual infinity, even though Craig would never accept this of anything else? Why? We have absolutely no reason to think that personal entities achieve this. All the minds that we know of seem to have successions of mental states and they seem to be based on physical substrates that in turn suggest the need for explanation.


No one here suggests that God is an extenuating case when it comes to explanations. The difference lies in the modality of existence. Contingent beings like us have the explanation of their existence outside themselves. Necessary beings have the explanation of their existence in themselves.

Craig's argument is basically trying to pull off the trick of getting us to accept that there is a world beyond the world - one of non-spatio-temporal things - in which our world is embedded -


He uses a deductive argument. How is that a trick?

and then to accept, for no good reason, that this extension to the world must consist of God.


Craig has given arguments for the personhood of the cause all the way back to his original formulation. He doesn't say we should take this at face value.

Craig is merely giving minds powers that they don't have. Craig talks about minds as "efficient causes". When did we last see a mind achieving that? Has my mind ever done that, dependent as it is on the workings of my brain? Has yours? Has anyone's?


Sure it has. You're the efficient cause of your post just as I am of mine. And in this case we also need a material cause to execute it.
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#62  Postby THWOTH » Apr 23, 2011 10:10 pm

Hiya Allemann. Would you care to expand a little on what you mean when you say that most philosophers will tell us that "...God, if he exists, is a metaphysically necessary being..." ? :ask:
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#63  Postby Teuton » Apr 23, 2011 11:36 pm

THWOTH wrote:Hiya Allemann. Would you care to expand a little on what you mean when you say that most philosophers will tell us that "...God, if he exists, is a metaphysically necessary being..." ? :ask:


See:

http://www.rationalskepticism.org/gener ... ml#p802822

http://www.rationalskepticism.org/gener ... ml#p801322
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#64  Postby hackenslash » Apr 23, 2011 11:43 pm

That doesn't answer the question put by Fwoff, because it doesn't address the oxymoronic concept of a conditional appearing in a statement about a necessary being. In other words, if god is necessary, then he exists, and 'if' has no place there.

None of this addresses the real issue, namely that any entity's existence is contingent upon the universe, which is existence itself.
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#65  Postby THWOTH » Apr 24, 2011 12:00 am

Thanks for the links Teuton :cheers: but my interest was in the use of the necessary (!) conjunctive as hack has spotted.
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#66  Postby Teuton » Apr 24, 2011 12:07 am

hackenslash wrote:That doesn't answer the question put by Fwoff, because it doesn't address the oxymoronic concept of a conditional appearing in a statement about a necessary being. In other words, if god is necessary, then he exists, and 'if' has no place there.


As far as the concept of a logically or ontologically/metaphysically necessary being is concerned, you are right.
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#67  Postby Allemann » Apr 24, 2011 12:36 am

THWOTH wrote:Hiya Allemann. Would you care to expand a little on what you mean when you say that most philosophers will tell us that "...God, if he exists, is a metaphysically necessary being..." ? :ask:


If God was contingent, then he would depend on something outside of him, making him not the ultimate ground of being and therefore not God.
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#68  Postby Paul Almond » Apr 24, 2011 12:53 am

I've no problem with the idea that God, if he exists, is necessary - because that seems to be how many theists define him. In accepting this, I'm not accepting anything about reality, about what is possible or impossible, or about what is coherent or incoherent: I'm simply accepting someone's definition. I happen to be fairly sure that there isn't a god.
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#69  Postby Teuton » Apr 24, 2011 12:56 am

Allemann wrote:
If God was contingent, then he would depend on something outside of him, making him not the ultimate ground of being and therefore not God.


Even if God is absolutely ontologically independent in the sense that there is a possible world in which he is the only existent, he doesn't exist in all possible worlds.

"[I]t seems coherent to suppose that there exists a complex physical universe but no God, from which it follows that it is coherent to suppose that there exists no God, from which in turn it follows that God is not a logically necessary being."

(Swinburne, Richard. The Existence of God. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. p. 148)
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#70  Postby Paul Almond » Apr 24, 2011 12:58 am

We are heading into the Plantinga zone...
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#71  Postby Teuton » Apr 24, 2011 1:01 am

Paul Almond wrote:I've no problem with the idea that God, if he exists, is necessary - because that seems to be how many theists define him.


Yes, but there are different interpretations of the concept of necessary existence.
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#72  Postby Paul Almond » Apr 24, 2011 1:07 am

Teuton wrote:
Allemann wrote:
If God was contingent, then he would depend on something outside of him, making him not the ultimate ground of being and therefore not God.


Even if God is absolutely ontologically independent in the sense that there is a possible world in which he is the only existent, he doesn't exist in all possible worlds.

"[I]t seems coherent to suppose that there exists a complex physical universe but no God, from which it follows that it is coherent to suppose that there exists no God, from which in turn it follows that God is not a logically necessary being."

(Swinburne, Richard. The Existence of God. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. p. 148)

It seems to me that the issue here is what we classify as "a possible world". For example, I could easily say this, paraphrasing Swinburne:

"It seems coherent to suppose that there exists a world in which the Goldbach conjecture is not true, from which it follows that it is coherent to suppose that the Goldbach conjecture is not true, from which in turn it follows that the Goldbach conjecture is not logically necessary."

and the problem of this, of course, is that we can't be sure, right now, whether the Goldbach conjecture is true or not - but if it is true it seems that it is necessarily true - something which we seem to have just ruled out merely by being able to conceive of the possibility that it is not true. I think Swinburne may actually be conflating everyday possibility with the more restrictive kind of possibility associated with a very restrictive set of possible worlds. Swinburne is imagining a set of possible worlds which all have to be consistent with each other - yet clearly, we don't know what form that set takes. It could be that all possible worlds have A, or it could be that all possible worlds have !A.

In fact, I'll go this far: I think Swinburne is doing, here, nothing less than a kind of inverted version of Plantinga's modal ontological argument.

Teuton wrote:
Paul Almond wrote:I've no problem with the idea that God, if he exists, is necessary - because that seems to be how many theists define him.


Yes, but there are different interpretations of the concept of necessary existence.


Yes, accepted. One thing I don't like about this subject is that some of the vocabulary can be hard to pin down.
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#73  Postby THWOTH » Apr 24, 2011 1:25 am

Allemann wrote:
THWOTH wrote:Hiya Allemann. Would you care to expand a little on what you mean when you say that most philosophers will tell us that "...God, if he exists, is a metaphysically necessary being..." ? :ask:


If God was contingent, then he would depend on something outside of him, making him not the ultimate ground of being and therefore not God.


Hmm. Isn't that just a way of saying if God exists then he must exists >> if he must exist then he does exist? This can be asserted without reference to the nature of his being but it is still an assertion and claim which rely on each other for support. As Mr Almond says, of course God has to exist for those that believe in him, and yet invoking his supposed necessity in the Kalam program seems more like a bolstering exercise than a conclusion - a conflation of emotional,intellectual or social necessity for a logical necessity. How might one get from 'if God exists' to 'God exists' without addressing the supposed nature of God's being?

Anyone? :dunno:
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#74  Postby Paul Almond » Apr 24, 2011 1:34 am

THWOTH wrote:How might one get from 'if God exists' to 'God exists' without addressing the supposed nature of God's being?

Anyone? :dunno:

Well, you could use S5 and an upturned top hat!
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#75  Postby THWOTH » Apr 24, 2011 1:38 am

:lol: Personally I favour the fez. :D


I just can't help coming back to: If God exists, what is God?
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#76  Postby Teuton » Apr 24, 2011 2:40 am

Paul Almond wrote:
It seems to me that the issue here is what we classify as "a possible world". For example, I could easily say this, paraphrasing Swinburne:

"It seems coherent to suppose that there exists a world in which the Goldbach conjecture is not true, from which it follows that it is coherent to suppose that the Goldbach conjecture is not true, from which in turn it follows that the Goldbach conjecture is not logically necessary."

and the problem of this, of course, is that we can't be sure, right now, whether the Goldbach conjecture is true or not - but if it is true it seems that it is necessarily true - something which we seem to have just ruled out merely by being able to conceive of the possibility that it is not true.


Necessary existence is not the same as necessary truth, is it?
But I think I see your point: If the GC is possibly true, then it is possibly necessarily true; and if the GC is possibly false, then it is possibly necessarily false. To be possibly necessarily true/false is to be necessarily true/false, i.e. to be true/false in all possible worlds. So we cannot consistently say that the GC is true in some possible worlds and false in some other possible worlds, and we cannot consistently say either that the GC is both true and false in all possible worlds. All we can consistently say is that if the GC exists as a true/false proposition in some possible worlds, then it exists as a true/false proposition in all possible worlds in which it exists.

Paul Almond wrote:One thing I don't like about this subject is that some of the vocabulary can be hard to pin down.


Yes, indeed.
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#77  Postby Paul Almond » Apr 24, 2011 3:21 am

Teuton wrote:Necessary existence is not the same as necessary truth, is it?

They seem very close to me.

If X exists necessarily, does this not mean that X exists in all possible worlds, and does this then not mean that the proposition that X exists is true in all possible worlds?

If the proposition that X exists is true in all possible worlds, does this not mean that X exists in all possible worlds, and does this not mean that X exists necessarily?

So can't we therefore say that if X exists necessarily then the proposition that X exists is necessarily true?
And can't we also say that if the proposition that X exists is necessarily true then X exists necessarily?

The two seem to go together to me, so it seems to me that saying "X exists necessarily" and saying "The proposition that X exists is necessarily true" are equivalent to each other. That suggests to me that necessary existence just corresponds to a particular statement of necessary truth, and necessary existence is just a special case of necessary truth, stated differently.
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#78  Postby John P. M. » Apr 24, 2011 10:39 am

Isn't "necessary being" used in order to have a brute force terminator for infinite regress?
Basically, God is said to be non-contingent, unmoved mover, uncreated creator, timeless originator of time etc.
That God is "necessarily so", because otherwise (the argument goes), we would have an infinite regress?
And that, in being such a being, God necessarily exists, because God would be that terminator (that we presumably need in order to explain origins)?

I think this is how it goes, but I put question marks behind it, just in case.
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#79  Postby THWOTH » Apr 24, 2011 11:32 am

I think that's right JPM, and it's a brute force semantic terminator also in a way. And yet, even if we accept this notion for the sake of argument we are still no closer to establishing the veracity of the claim that God exist because the argument that reality requires such a terminator begins with God already existing (out of intellectual, emotional or social necessity as it were) and does not conclude with it, for as Mr Almond asks, why does something such as a supposed necessary terminator have to be a personal entity or God or any particular god?
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Re: WL Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#80  Postby Teuton » Apr 24, 2011 1:44 pm

Paul Almond wrote:
Teuton wrote:Necessary existence is not the same as necessary truth, is it?

They seem very close to me. … The two seem to go together to me, so it seems to me that saying "X exists necessarily" and saying "The proposition that X exists is necessarily true" are equivalent to each other. That suggests to me that necessary existence just corresponds to a particular statement of necessary truth, and necessary existence is just a special case of necessary truth, stated differently.


Yes, as far as logical necessity is concerned, there is an equivalence:

<x exists necessarily> <–> <<x exists> is necessarily true>

But I side with those who hold that there is nothing x that satifies this equivalence: logically necessary existents are logically impossible existents, in the sense that there can be no proposition of the form <x exists> or <the X exists> such that its negation is self-contradictory. Therefore, if "exists necessarily" is taken to mean "exists logically necessary", then it is a logically necessary truth that nothing exists logically necessarily, i.e. then there is no possible world in which something exists logically necessarily.
So "exists necessarily" must be interpreted differently. One suggestion is that it be read as "exists metaphysically/ontologically necessarily". The nontrivial problem with this is that the concept of metaphysical/ontological modality is pretty vague. Even Craig admits this:

"Since metaphysical modality is so much woollier a notion than strict logical modality, there may not be the sort of clean, decisive markers of what is possible or impossible that consistency in first-order logic affords for strict logical modality. Arguments for metaphysical possibility or impossibility typically rely upon intuitions and conceivability arguments, which are obviously much less certain guides than strict logical consistency or inconsistency. The poorly defined nature of metaphysical modality cuts both ways dialectically: on the one hand, arguments for the metaphysical impossibility of some state of affairs will be much more subjective than arguments concerning strict logical impossibility; on the other hand, such arguments cannot be refuted by facile observations to the effect that such states of affairs have not been demonstrated to be strictly logically inconsistent."

(Craig, William Lane, and James D. Sinclair. "The Kalam Cosmological Argument." In The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, 101-201. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. p. 106)

The only clear and precise definition I know interprets metaphysically/ontologically necessary existence as a de re necessity, in the sense that it concerns the essence of things. Of course, "exists necessarily" must not be read as "has the property of existence essentially", since everything existent exists essentially: there is no possible world where there is something that exists without existing. So in order to avoid its trivialization, "is necessarily existent" must be interpreted differently: Necessary existence is essentially eternal existence.

An existentially or, as Richard Swinburne says, factually necessary existent is an essentially eternal existent:

x is an existentially/ontologically necessary being
=def
x is essentially eternal/exists essentially eternally
=def
For all possible worlds w, if x exists in w, then there is neither a first nor a last moment of x's existence, i.e. then x has always existed in w and will always exist in w, i.e. then x is both uncreatable and indestructible in w.


But an existentially/factually necessary existent is a logically contingent existent that does not exist in all possible worlds! So if an existentially/factually necessary, i.e. essentially eternal, god exists, then his existentially/factually necessary, i.e. essentially eternal, existence is "the ultimate brute fact", where a brute fact is an inexplicable logically contingent fact.

"To say that 'God exists' is necessary is, I believe, to say that the existence of God is a brute fact that is inexplicable—not in the sense that we do not know its explanation, but in the sense that it does not have one. …[A]ny terminus to explanation of things logically contingent must be itself something logically contingent. …[T]here are two ways in which God's existence being an inexplicable brute fact can be spelt out. The first position is to say that God's essence is an eternal essence. God is a being of a kind such that if he exists at any time he exists at all times; his existence at all remains the one logically contingent fact. The alternative position is to say that the divine essence is a temporal essence; the ultimate brute fact is not God's existing as such, but his existing for a period of time without beginning. His subsequent existence would be due to his intentional choice at each moment of time to continue to exist subsequently. Theism has traditionally taken the former position, … . In that case God will have the strongest kind of necessity compatible with his being a logically contingent being. Such necessary existence we may term factually necessary existence (in contrast to logically necessary existence)."

(Swinburne, Richard. The Existence of God. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. p. 96)
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