Apologetic Failures

The promotion of religion is based on the appeal of ceremony and apologetic arguments that are convincing only to the already convinced.All arguments for the existence of gods, viz supernatural entities, have been refuted or have failed. Fideism and deism have become the last refuges of refuted theology.

Modern apologetics has fallen back on emotional apologetics, which fails in its turn because religion is not necessary for moral conduct, community, or the attainment of a sense of psychological purpose.

Modern science has disproven the physical claims within the Book of Genesis and miraculous claims within the Bible, and has effectively demonstrated that physical death spells the end of consciousness.

Theological Apologetics
å Assailing the Ineffable
å Aristotle's Prime Mover
å Avicenna first mover
å Aquinas' arguments
å Cosmological Arguments
å Kalām cosmological argument
å Leibnizian Principle of Sufficient Reason
å Modal Ontological Argument . playlist
å Plato's First Mover
å Teleological Arguments

Emotional Apologetics
å Demands for Proof
å Desperate Measures
å What's Wrong with Religious Apologetics?
å When All Else Fails

History of Religion
å From UPA to Ineffable

Creationism
å Anti-IDiocy resources
å Behe Retreats
å Complexity Reductio
å Dawkins refutes Behe
å Debunking IDiocy
å Jones' Kitzmiller vs Dover decision
å Ken Miller on Collapse of Intelligent Design
å Not So-Hidden IDiot Agendas
å Panstupidity and Jumbo-Mumbo
å Reducible Illogic
å Tick Tock
å Un-designed Intelligences
å Wedge Document
å What's intelligent . . . ?

a priori : a posteriori : Aquinas' Third Way : causation : Cogito argument : contingency : contingent vs necessary : dual-attribute monism : empiricism : epistemology : induction : inference : logic : mind-body : necessity : Occam's razor : possible worlds :





Aquinas' cosmological argument

St. Thomas AquinasThomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274 C.E) argued that the existence of contingent things, which depend for their existence upon other beings, requires explanation. Aquinas' cosmological argument holds that a necessary being is responsible for the existence of contingent beings.

There are a number of problems with the Thomasian argument, as with all cosmological arguments (indeed with all apologetic arguments). The most egregious problem is that believers assume that such arguments are "proof" of the existence of a mythical entity. They do so not because apologetic arguments are convincing, but because they come to these arguments with a pre-formed a posteriori belief.

As to the problems themselves: First, proof of existence necessarily includes confirmed direct, or valid indirect, demonstration of the proposed existence. Second, philosophy-based proof is not possible outside mathematics and a specific form of syllogism. Third, the Thomasian argument has many problems.

The Thomasian cosmological argument is the third of Aquinas' Five Ways:

First Way: The Argument From Motion
St. Thomas Aquinas borrowed from the Greek philsopher Aristotle, and inferred from common observation that objects are put in motion by some other object or force. From this, Aquinas argued that the ultimate (first) cause of motion must have been an unmoved mover (God) who first initiated motion. The argument runs:
1) Nothing can move itself.
2) If every object in motion had a mover, then the first object in motion needed a mover.
3) This first mover is the Unmoved Mover, called God.

Second Way: Causation Of Existence
Aquinas concluded from the common sense observation that an object does not creates itself, as indicating that some previous object create the object. Aquinas extrapolated back to an ultimate uncaused first cause (God) who initiated the chain of existence for all things. The argument runs:
1) There exists things that are caused (created) by other things.
2) Nothing can be the cause of itself (nothing can create itself.)
3) There can not be an endless string of objects causing other objects to exist.
4) Therefore, there must be an uncaused first cause called God.

Third Way: Contingent and Neccessary Objects
Aquinas defines two types of objects in the universe–contingent beings and necessary beings. A contingent being is an object that can not exist without a necessary being causing its existence. Aquinas believed that the existence of contingent beings would ultimately neccesitate a being which must exist for all of the contingent beings to exist. This being, called a necessary being, is what we call God. The argument runs:

1) Contingent beings are caused.
2) Not every being can be contingent.
3) There must exist a being which is necessary to cause contingent beings.
4) This necessary being is God.


Fourth Way: The Argument From Degrees And Perfection
St. Thomas formulated this Way from a the observation that one object may be more beautiful than another. Thus, objects exhibit degrees or gradation of a quality. From this fact Aquinas concluded that for any given quality there must be an perfect standard by which all such qualities are measured, and he postulated that these perfections are contained in God.

Fifth Way: The Argument From Intelligent Design
Aquinas argued that common sense indicates that the universe works such that one can conclude that is was designed by an intelligent designer, God. In other words, all physical laws and the order of nature and life were designed and ordered by God, the intelligent designer.

The modern version of the argument from design is based upon Paley's Teleological Argument. Paley's long-refuted argument that complexity necessarily implies a designer.


* There are considerable problems with Aquinas' arguments.

Aquinas could not have know that motion is actually the default condition of the universe. He can be forgiven for not knowing this and for considering relative motion to be the default condition. Even so, motion would not necessarily result from the action of a deity.

Nothing from nothing is an intuitive assumption, but does not necessarily reflect reality. In any case, the question then becomes, "How did God come out of nothing". Postulated eternal existence for God fails to address this problem because the matter/energy in the universe could then be taken to have been eternal. Since time is an artefact of events, time exists only as long as energy exists.

The first cause, “God” by Aquinas’ definition, is taken to be a necessary being. This artifice terminates the causal regress at “God”.

The distinction between necessary and contingent objects is fatal to Aquinas’ argument because he acknowledges that some objects simply exist without causation. The question then becomes which object/s is/are in actuality the necessary being/s.

Aquinas attributes the qualities of the Christian “God” to this necessary object. However, Aquinas has failed to make the case that the ultimate, necessary existence could not in fact be that which Aquinas is taking to be caused by “God”. In other words, Aquinas has invented an extra, regressive step in order to conform to received religious belief. His argument is fatally circular.

Defining God as perfect simply does not work because it commits a bare assertion fallacy. It is not legitimate to define postulated entities into existence and then to claim that this proves their actual existence. No rational person would deny that a postulated entity exists as a conceptualization, but myths are not worthy of worship, love, or fear. Particularly not fear.

The problems with teleological arguments have been repeatedly exposed over a considerable time frame.



Hi Q.



St. Thomas Aquinas , cosmological argument ,

Cosmological Arguments

The family of cosmological arguments follow the general pattern of moving from inferences about the world to postulating the existence of a unique, cosmologically-responsible entity (God).

The arguments are problematic because inferences are often based on inaccurate premises about the alleged condition of the cosmos – that the world came into being through an act of creation, that the world is is contingent (rather than necessary), or that certain beings in the world are causally dependent or contingent.

Theologists have moved from these assumptions to infer, either deductively or inductively, that a first cause, a necessary being, an unmoved mover, or a personal being (God) exists and is responsible for the cosmos.

Human curiosity naturally led early humans to questions about the existence of the world, and in the absence of scientific knowledge, cosmological speculations abounded. These speculations became more sophisticated over time, particularly when they were adopted by professional churchmen in attempts to prove the existence of a 'God' for which the earliest conceptual origins had been forgotten in the mists of time. The Western historical record dates the cosmological argument back to Plato (Laws, 893-6).

Three types of cosmological argument are recognized:
1. as advocated by St Thomas Aquinas, these arguments are based on the impossiblity of an essentially ordered infinite regress.
2 the kalām argument holds that an infinite temporal regress is impossible because an actual infinite is impossible.
3. Leibniz and Clarke espoused the Principle of Sufficient Reason.

Historical versions of the cosmological argument:

Plato ~ Laws, 893-6 ~ (cosmic) motion was started by an first cause (unmoved mover).

Aristotle ~ Physics (VIII, 4-6) and Metaphysics (XII, 1-6) ~ Prime Mover or Unmoved Mover.

Arabic philosophers (falasifa) ~ atemporal argument from contingency.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) ~ Summa Theologica (I,q.2,a.3) and Summa Contra Gentiles (I, 13).

Islamic and mutakallimūm theologians ~ kalām argument ~ temporal version of the argument from the impossibility of an infinite regress.

  • al-Ghāzāli (1058-1111) argued that everything that begins to exist requires a cause of its beginning
  • Bonaventure (1221-74) ~ Sentences (II Sent. D.1,p.1,a.1,q.2).
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) appealed to a strengthened principle of sufficient reason (PSR), according to which “no fact can be real or existing and no statement true without a sufficient reason for its being so and not otherwise” (Monadology, §32).

Samuel Clarke reiterated the principle of sufficient reason.

Cosmological arguments are fraught with problems:

The cosmological argument came under serious criticism in the 18th century by David Hume and Immanuel Kant.

Hume attacks both the view of causation presupposed in the argument (that causation is an objective, productive relation that holds between two things) and the Causal Principle — every contingent being has a cause of its being — that lies at the heart of the argument. (Hume, David, 1980, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Indianapolis: Hackett. [Available Online].)

Kant contends that the cosmological argument, in identifying the necessary being, relies on the ontological argument, which in turn is suspect.

Contemporary philosophers continue to contribute detailed arguments on both sides of the debate. Both theists and non-theists in the last part of the 20th century generally have shown a healthy skepticism about the argument.

Skepticism:
Alvin Plantinga (1967, chap. 1) concludes “that this piece of natural theology is ineffective.”

Richard Gale contends, in Kantian fashion, that since the conclusion of all versions of the cosmological argument invokes an impossibility, no cosmological arguments can provide examples of sound reasoning (1991, ch. 7).

Michael Martin reasons that no current version of the cosmological argument is sound (1990, ch. 4), as do John Mackie (ch. 5) and Quentin Smith (Craig and Smith, 1993).

Defense:
William Lane Craig defends the kalām argument. See Some Comments on William Craig's "Creation and Big Bang Cosmology" by Adolf Grünbaum.

Richard Swinburne, rejects deductive versions of the cosmological argument, but proposes an inductive argument which is part of a larger cumulative case for God's existence. “There is quite a chance that if there is a God he will make something of the finitude and complexity of a universe. It is very unlikely that a universe would exist uncaused, but rather more likely that God would exist uncaused. The existence of the universe…can be made comprehensible if we suppose that it is brought about by God” (1979, 131-2).

Cosmological Argument, from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
Existence of God, by William Lane Craig (Biola University).
Articles on the cosmological argument for the existence of God, list of articles published on the web, from RS-Web, designed and written by R. Bowie.
Critique of the Kalām Argument., by Graham Oppy (Philosophy, Monash University).
Cosmological argument as evidence for atheism, by Quentin Smith (Philosophy, Michigan State University).

sources:
"The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe" by William Lane Craig. Craig's own summary of the kalam argument.
Reichenbach, Bruce, "Cosmological Argument", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2006 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), url.

References:
Craig, William Lane. The Kalam Cosmological Argument. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1979.



Kalām cosmological argument

Ibn Russhd, AverroësThe Kalām Cosmological Argument attempts to prove the existence of God by appealing to the principle of universal cause. Kalām arguments try to demonstrate (1) that the existence of an actual infinite (a concept from modern set theory) is impossible and (2) that even if it were possible, the universe itself is not actually infinite and hence must have had a beginning.

The argument for 'first cause' originated with Plato and Aristotle, and was revived by Maimonides, Aquinas, and Ibn Russhd (Averroës). The argument is expressed in Thomistic and Leibnizian forms. It has recently been reworked by Christian apologist, William Lane Craig.

It is named for Islamic 'religious science', kalām, and is a dialectical* argument. It relies on the premise that the universe had a finite beginning (does not extend to infinity in the past), which is postulated to necessitate there being an immaterial cause for the existence of the universe.

1. The universe either had (a) a beginning or (b) no beginning.
2. If it had a beginning, the beginning was either (a) caused or (b) uncaused.
3. If it had a cause, the cause was either (a) personal or (b) not personal.

The kalām cosmological argument is thus an argument from contingency because the cosmos that exists could have been otherwise. It takes the form of a disjunctive syllogism.

Craig's version
P1: Everything that begins to exist (comes into being) has a cause.
P2: The universe began to exist.
Conclusion 1: Therefore, the universe must have a cause.

The second premise is usually supported by the following sub-argument:
P1. An actual infinite cannot exist.
P2. A beginningless series of events is an actual infinite
Conclusion (subargument): Therefore, the universe cannot have existed infinitely in the past, as that would be a beginningless series of events.

According to modern set theory, an actual infinite is a collection of things with an infinite number of members, such that part of an actually infinite set is equal to the whole set. This obtains because an infinite set of numbers contains an infinite number of even (and odd) numbers as well as an infinite number of all numbers. Because an actual infinite set already contains all numbers, nothing can be added to it. A beginningless series of events in time is an actual infinite.

None of which, of course, indicates that a) the universe must have a 'cause', or b) that even if the universe does have cause, that this cause is a supernatural entity, still less that this 'cause' is the deity of the Talmud/Bible/Koran. That is, looking back at the dialectical version of the argument, the universe could have had a beginning (Big Bang) and been uncaused, or could have had a beginning and have been caused by a 'not personal' agency. There is no necessity, on the basis of the kalām syllogism, to assume that a universe with a beginning signifies that a deity is probable.

*The term dialectic (Greek, διαλεκτική) refers to controversy. Dialectical exercises involve the exchange of arguments and counter-arguments that advocate propositions (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses). A dialectical exercise could lead to
a) the refutation of one of the relevant points of view
b) qualitative transformation in the direction of the dialogue, or
c) synthesis, combination, or syncretism of the opposing assertions.

Sources:
"The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe" by William Lane Craig. Craig's own summary of the kalam argument.


Leibnizian Principle of Sufficient Reason

Parmenides by RaphaelThe Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) claims that all contingent facts must have an explanation, that is, anything that happens does so for a definite reason.

Parmenides used the Principle of Sufficient Reason to argue that there was no such thing as change: If there was change, why did it happen when it happened rather than earlier or later? “Ex nihilo nihil fit”: nothing comes from nothing.

(Parmenides can be forgiven for not having known anything of quantum mechanics.)

Gottfried Wilhelm LeibnizThe PSR is more famously associated with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

The argument runs that the principle of sufficient reason generates the truths of fact, which are contingent (M#36), and each of which states the connection between an existing individual substance and one of its infinitely many accidental features or relations.


For every entity X, if X exists, then there is a sufficient explanation why X exists*.
For every event E, if E occurs, then there is a sufficient explanation why E occurs.
For every proposition P, if P is true, then there is a sufficient explanation why P is true.

The reasoning runs that since the universe exists, there must be an explanation or cause for its existence. Since it is taken as incoherent to postulate self-causation (the cosmos' creating itself), it is assumed that the cause for the universe is necessarily something other than the universe itself. Considering plausible candidates for the cause of the universe, 'God' is proposed as being the best candidate since 'God' is defined as capable of creating a universe without being a part of the universe. Absent God, and the existence of the universe is taken to be inexplicable. (Which, of course, is the current state of astrophysical knowledge.)

The argument itself immediately raises the question of how 'God' came into existence in order to cause the universe. This obvious problem is conveniently ignored or dismissed-by-definition by theists. Even if we accept that the universe had a cause, and call this cause 'God', there is no further reason to assume that this 'God' is the God of the Bible.

A further problem is that it is by no means established that there need be a cause for the universe, even if it did come into existence at some finite time in the past (Big Bang). This is to say, there need not be a complex, intelligent cause, when the laws of physics then** in operation would suffice as an explanation.

Monadology #32. And that of sufficient reason, in virtue of which we hold that there can be no fact real or existing, no statement true, unless there be a sufficient reason, why it should be so and not otherwise, although these reasons usually cannot be known by us. (Theod. 44, 196.)

The PSR theme continued:
33. There are also two kinds of truths, those of reasoning and those of fact. Truths of reasoning are necessary and their opposite is impossible: truths of fact are contingent and their opposite is possible. When a truth is necessary, its reason can be found by analysis, resolving it into more simple ideas and truths, until we come to those which are primary. (Theod. 170, 174, 189, 280-282, 367. Abrege, Object. 3.)

36. But there must also be a sufficient reason for contingent truths or truths of fact, that is to say, for the sequence or connexion of the things which are dispersed throughout the universe of created beings, in which the analyzing into particular reasons might go on into endless detail, because of the immense variety of things in nature and the infinite division of bodies.

37. And as all this detail again involves other prior or more detailed contingent things, each of which still needs a similar analysis to yield its reason, we are no further forward: and the sufficient or final reason must be outside of the sequence or series of particular contingent things, however infinite this series may be.

38. Thus the final reason of things must be in a necessary substance, in which the variety of particular changes exists only eminently, as in its source; and this substance we call God. (Theod. 7.)

39. Now as this substance is a sufficient reason of all this variety of particulars, which are also connected together throughout; there is only one God, and this God is sufficient.

40. We may also hold that this supreme substance, which is unique, universal and necessary, nothing outside of it being independent of it,- this substance, which is a pure sequence of possible being, must be illimitable and must contain as much reality as is possible.

Refutations of the PSR include Hume’s imaginability argument and Peter van Inwagen’s argument that the PSR entails modal fatalism. William Rowe's criticism of the argument amounts to saying that we have no reason to believe PSR.

* Note that, if S is a sufficient cause of E, the presence of E does not necessarily indicate that E was caused by S. It is possible that E was caused by another agency or agencies.
** The laws of physics could have been different prior to the "Big Bang".

Blogs: Conceivability, Possibility, and the Ontological Argument for God's Existence : The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument : sufficient reason for conversation :

Sources:
THE MONADOLOGY by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz translated by Robert Latta
Parmenides' Principle by Allan F. Randall.
Quantum Superposition, Necessity and the Identity of Indiscernibles by Allan F. Randall
Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit: Arguments New and Old for the Principle of Sufficient Reason by Alexander R. Pruss
Bobro, Marc, "Leibniz on Causation", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2007 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), url.




cosmological argument, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Monadology, Principle of Sufficient Reason ,
Parmenides,

Please call 'em . . .

The political designation "right" (droit) originated with the Estates General prior to the French Revolution. Before they lost their heads – literally – aristocrats sat to the physical right of the president's chair.

Thus, those who are conservative, reactionary, greedy, fascistic, anti-liberal, militaristic came to be misleadingly termed "the right".

The French for "correct" is not "droit". Unfortunately, "right" and "correct" do misleadingly convey the same sense in English. Whoever dubbed conservative, fundamentalist Christians the "Religious Right" was quite wrong!

Jerry Falwell happily chuckled about the tag during the God's Christian Warriors episode of Christiane Amanpour's God's Warriors documentary. If the abominable Jerry liked the name, I'm more against it than I was prior to seeing the smug Reverend smirking over the term.

American fundamentalism went underground after the Scopes fiasco had exposed creationist bigotry to national, even global, derision for its intransigent ignorance.

Fundamentalists swarmed out of their subterranean lairs in the 1970s with the rise of televangelical charlatans. It is scarcely surprising that televangelism flourishes upon those who donate to such entertainment. These people, after all, are mostly descendants of rural folk who flocked to Revival meetings.

Rural life on the frontier was probably so isolated and boring that even I would have attended the early Revivals! The South also had African slaves with their stirring music, which presumably inspired white Southerners to enliven their church music.

However, the rural South does have electricity and television now, so the evident need of Southern Baptists for raucous church services presumably results from this frontier history.

When they re-emerged from hiding in the '70s, Christian fundies stopped admitting to being fundamentalists and started calling themselves "evangelicals". Their intention in adopting this disguise is obvious, but it does not alter the fact that their behavior and attitudes have not significantly evolved since 1925. Subtle differences between the old and new fundamentalists have become official over time according to a summary of "Adventist and Protestant Fundamentalism", Spectrum 30, 24-35 (2002). Nevertheless, the essentials remain the same.

I think that those atheists who are anti-religious are actually more likely to be anti-fundamentalist-religionist rather than anti-moderate-religious. After all, even though past Western religious transgressions were committed in the name of Catholicism, current poisonings are globally perpetrated under fundamentalist banners.





So, please call 'em:

Fundamentalists, or even Fistians

Religious Wrong, or Religionist Wrong

Religious Droit (pronounced dwāt, though drat would be appropriateReligious Right [sick])

or, if you are utterly frustrated, one of Shalini's colorful terms.

Plato Aristotle First Mover

Plato (left) holding Timaeus with Aristotle (right) holding EthicsPlato (c. 427–c. 347 BCE) in The Laws, argued that the motion in the universe must be attributable to a first cause.

The argument is one of a family of cosmological arguments. All are fraught with problems.

Plato argues, that the first cause of motion initiated all the motion in the universe. He called this principle, 'soul' or 'life'. Further, any cause that was the ultimate cause must itself be unmoved by anything else–an unmoved mover or, in Aristotle's parlance, a prime mover.

Aristotle (c. 384–322 BCE), in Metaphysics, also proposed the idea of a first cause, which is often referred to as the "Prime Mover" or "Unmoved Mover" (the πρῶτον κινοῦν ἀκίνητον or primus motor). Aristotle describes the unmoved mover as being perfectly beautiful, indivisible, and contemplating only the perfect contemplation: itself contemplating.

The Persian philosopher, Avicenna (c. 980–1037 CE) , Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā, or Ibn Sina also created a variation of this argument.



cosmological argument , Aristotle, Plato,

Teleological Arguments

Based on the emotional supposition that there must be purpose behind the processes of nature, a teleological argument is an argument from design.

Teleological (Greek "telos", meaning end or purpose) arguments for the existence of God, Yagoal, a creator, or an "intelligent designer" are based on perceived sense that there must be order, purpose, design, or direction in nature.

All of these arguments involve some combination of fallacious arguments: including argument from analogy (argument from contrived definition), argument from emotion, resort to ineffability, god of the gaps, and circularity, and all fail.

The arguments take the form:
P1 : some thing or process is too complex, orderly, functionally adaptive, apparently purposeful, or beautiful to have occurred randomly or accidentally.
C: Therefore, some thing or process must have been created by a sentient, intelligent, wise, or purposeful being.
P2 : God (by whatever name) is that sentient, intelligent, wise, or purposeful being.
C2: Therefore, God exists.

The latest flavor of teleological argument is the nauseatingly over-promulgated, IDiocy argument:
P1: Biological or cosmological complexity implies a designer.
p2: Life and the universe are highly complex.
C: Therefore, the universe has a Designer.
C2: Therefore, God exists.

Another modern variant is the anthropic principle:
P1: Life could not have existed within our universe if its fundamental constants had different values
P2: Our universe is as it is, and life exists within our universe.
C: Therefore a supernatural agent fine-tuned the universe to ensure life as we know it.
C2: Therefore, God exists.

A particularly prevalent and feeble emotional argument for purpose runs:
P1: My life cannot have meaning and purpose if I am not the result of special creation/if Jesus did not die for me/if I am not destined for salvation/etc.
C2: Therefore, God exists.


Stupid Theistic Apologetics

The Mythical SkyDaddy creates our cosmos (actually Kepler's supernova)I'm not merely tired of being polite about religion, I am tired of being polite about stupid theistic apologetics. Yes, there are some bright theists and deists – Kenneth Miller springs to mind. Bright deists keep their emotional relationship to their religion private and don't let it force them to think illogically.

Most theists whom I have encountered on the Internet could not reason their way out of a wet paper bag.

Here’s a link to a rather nauseating pod-cast of a Christian interviewer asking leading questions on the topic of “The New Atheism” for Dr William Lane Craig. I have transcribed Craig incompletely but literally, poor grammar included.

Craig calls atheism, “the defensive backlash of a wounded animal.” He says:
“Atheism is on the retreat today and it’s fighting back now, it’s lashing out, and [Christians] need to remain confident and calm and communicate the love of Christ, but at the same be very firm and intelligent as we handle the arguments and rebut them.”
Atheism is not a wounded animal, Bill, atheists are frustrated and angry at illogic, anti-science, and bigotry in the Name of the Man Who Never Was. If atheism really were in retreat, Christians would be looking for a different enemy to target.

Intelligent debate from Christians would make a nice change, yes.

Craig moves on to evoke his favourite apologetic area, saying:
“The Leibnizian argument from contingency – the explanation for why something exists rather than nothing. [Dawkins] has nothing about the Kalām cosmological argument, the argument that there was a beginning of the universe and therefore the universe needs to have a transcendent cause.”
Craig says "explanation" when he ought to say "argument". He is using a car salesman trick – playing upon the listener's tendency to view explanations as linked to facts. Arguments are understood as attempts to demonstrate a conclusion based upon propositions.

In The God Delusion, which was intended for a lay audience, and not for philosophers, Dawkins makes it clear at the outset that philosophers have soundly refuted theological apologetics, and that he has no intention of reiterating the refutations. True enough, and fair enough, particularly when one considers that Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist. Perhaps Craig closed his eyes as he read that passage because he goes on to pull out the typical theistic complaint that Dawkins did not demonstrate his knowledge of philosophy.


“[Dawkins] talks about the design argument but he doesn’t deal with the fine-tuning, he only deals with the biological aspects of it but has nothing to offer in terms of how you can explain the fine-tuning of the universe of the Big Bang for intelligent life.”
Get your cosmology straight, Craig. Even though the universe clearly happens to support somewhat intelligent life, this does not mean that there was necessarily any fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life, and it certainly does not demonstrate that any supernatural agent tweaked the fundamental constants for this purpose.

Craig probably felt confident that none of his devoted, Christian listeners would catch him out in his following misrepresentations of what Dawkins actually said:


“The moral argument, here he’s just completely inconsistent. On the one hand he grants the premise that if God does not exist, there are no objective moral values and duties, he’s very clear that he thinks that morality is just basically a human illusion. But on the other hand, over and over again in the book, he makes moral judgements, and affirms moral truths and therefore affirms the second premise in the moral argument that objective moral values exist.”


Um, Bill, you are creating a false dichotomy, which leads me to believe either that you have problems with reading comprehension or that you are deliberately misrepresenting Dawkins’ arguments. Theists do so love their straw men.

There is considerable difference between acknowledging the existence of moral behavior, some of which appears to be biologically inherited, together with acknowledging societal moral contracts, as compared to theistic claims for biblical absolute morality.

My moral rules include honesty as an important value. I get the impression that theologist William Lane Craig does not. Of course, if you insist that something exists that does not actually exist, then intellectual honesty must be eschewed.

This next, facetious outpouring of Craig’s was worth replicating in its grammatically and logically flawed entirety:


“So, [Dawkins] doesn’t refute that argument, and then finally the ontological argument, oddly enough he spends the most time on that one. He spends several pages on the ontological argument, but if you look at it, all it is is ridicule. He doesn’t know anything about Alvin Plantinga’s defence of the ontological argument, he just mocks it and makes fun of it, and it’s very clear that he doesn’t know the literature, that he’s not familiar with the argument. So I was very unimpressed, I mean quite honestly looking at his handling of the arguments for God’s existence.”


As a listener, I should have liked to hear Craig, who claims expertise in this area, expound on Plantinga’s defence, but he preferred to confine his own remarks to the ridicule he decries. I imagine that most of his Christian listeners could have cared less about Plantinga's defence – they'd be more than content with the ridicule.

Next, Craig bemoans the fact that Dawkins has never heard of Craig and was unwilling to debate a theologian of lower rank than a bishop. Then comes some self-congratulation on helping Christians who hear his debates to hold their heads up high as thinkers.

Cough, splutter!

Craig goes on to describe a debate with Dan Dennett. It is impossible to convey the level of smug ridicule with which he boastfully makes the following illogical argument concerning Dan Dennett’s views:
“I was shocked, this is an eminent philosopher from Tuft’s University, this is not some popularizer. And yet if you looked at his responses to the typical arguments for the existence of God, George Smith does a better job as a popularizer than what Dennett did. For example, his response to the Kalām cosmological argument, which says that whatever begins to exist has a cause, the universe began to exist, therefore the universe has a cause. He agrees with the first premise that anything that begins to exist must have a cause that brings it into being. He agrees with the second premise, he thinks the universe began to exist, and that the Big Bang gives good evidence of that. So, he agrees with the conclusion, the universe has a cause, but here’s his answer to the argument, “Yeah, the universe has a cause, the universe caused itself, the universe brought itself into being.” He says it’s the ultimate bootstrapping trick, the universe, you know, pulled itself up by its own bootstraps, it brought itself into existence. And I pointed out to him, “You know, in order for the universe to bring itself into existence it would have to exist before it existed, otherwise it’s not self-caused, it would come out of nothing, so his view would be that they universe had to exist before it existed, which is a self-contradiction! It’s logically incoherent, and yet this was his response to the cosmological argument.”
YECers actually deny the Big Bang, but Craig appears to be a deist. Craig is resorting – confusingly – to a fallacious argument from regress. Dennett is a philosopher and not a cosmologist, but a cosmologist would say something along the lines that whatever caused it, our universe began with the rapid expansion of space-time that has been dubbed the "Big Bang". The Big Bang does not actually provide any evidence, because it is a phenomenological explanation that is based upon the evidence. Explanations are not evidence. This is a subtle, but important distinction.

Whatever matter/energy form might have existed before our universe began to expand and evolve 14.7 billion years ago is, at present and perhaps forever, unknowable. The “Bang” erased all trace of the previous history of the energy/matter that comprises our cosmos.

It is not logically inconsistent that there was something prior – something in all likelihood that was incredibly densely compressed, by whatever mechanism that compression might have come about. This prior-something was not our universe as we know it. There was not necessarily something prior, and nor was there necessarily nothing prior, and it certainly was not necessary that God that was prior. The chief point is that Craig’s implied argument requires the pre-existence of God, who supposedly brought the entire universe into being and fine-tuned the universe for the evolution of pseudo-intelligent us. So, where did Craig's God come from? He sees no need to explain that; he is only interested in implying that his God was there prior to our cosmos.

Craig moves on to ridiculing memes, which he misrepresents and which he is employing even as he claims to demolish them.

The interviewer next claims that he thinks that the origin of religion, especially when it comes to the existence of God, is not a psychological issue. Craig then labels, as a genetic fallacy, the argument that points out that the human invention of mythologies invalidates the content of religions:



“You try to invalidate a position by showing how a person came to believe that. An example of the genetic fallacy would be, “well, you believe in democracy just because you were raised in America, that’s the only reason you think democracy is the best. Even if it were true that I came to believe in God because of the influence of my parents, or my culture, or society, that is completely irrelevant to the truth or the falsity of that belief. You can’t invalidate a belief by showing how it came to be held. That’s the genetic fallacy. Even if my belief is the product of psychological and social factors, it could still be true.”


The argument about belief in democracy-because-American, or SkyDaddy because birth Daddy said so, is true enough insofar as sources do not verify content, but Craig is deliberately creating another straw man. These examples describe the history of personal belief regarding an already-conceived belief system.

Explanations have human origins. Whenever a scientist puts forward a hypothetical explanation, she is expected to explain the genesis of the hypothesis – to describe the evidence and logic upon which the hypothesis has been constructed.

Claims for the existence of a supposed supernatural creator must exist for a reason – the claims, that is, not the supposed supernatural creator. This is true of any existential-concept for which there is no incontrovertible evidence – Russell’s teapot, Flying Spaghetti Monsters, homunculi, or little green Martian men. Refutation of theological claims for the supernatural do not rest only upon the origin of the God-myth alongside other, now abandoned myths, but the psychological origin of mythologies does explain how humans came to be deluded by this particular myth. As Dawkins listed, there are numerous valid refutations of theological apologetics. No apologetic Christian argument has withstood refutation. Craig will not admit this, but it is true nonetheless.

I’m much, much, much less impressed by William Lane Craig’s intelligence than he is. I thought that the following statement was deliciously ironic in that he is not even smart enough to know that he is describing himself:
“If a person has a strong enough commitment, to naturalism say, or any worldview, then one will do what Dennett did in the face of my arguments, he’ll say, “Well, I guess that one of those very plausible premises has to be false after all.” If you believe strong enough in a presupposition, then anything counter to that, you’re just going to deny.”
Atheism isn't a worldview, Bill. As a philosopher, you should know this.

Theists love to attack “naturalism” as though it is merely another –ism, like theism for example. In fact, there is a cosmos full of evidence that the natural world exists, while there is not one shred of evidence for existence of the supernatural. However, supernaturalists, like Craig want to interpret the undeniably existent natural world by resorting outside natural explanations.

I cannot even begin to describe just how stupid someone needs to be to insist that the only good explanation for the natural world is something that clearly does not exist. If God existed, we’d all have direct access to this worship-worthy something that supposedly provides undeniable evidence of omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient existence. In the meantime, the natural world does undeniably exist, and physical mechanisms do demonstrably impact events in the natural world. I’ll just happily continue to worship nature, thank you very much.

Needless to say, Dr Craig thinks that Christians should be politically involved when it comes to moral issues, and that Churches should take a stand on moral issues such as abortion and homosexuality. Why was I not surprised when Bill said this?



atheism, apologetics, cosmology, cosmological argument , deism, kalām cosmological argument , moral philosophy, religion, supernatural, theism, Richard Dawkins, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, William Lane Craig,