Posted: Apr 23, 2011 9:46 pm
by Allemann
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.