Theistic Critiques of Atheism, part 12

Ok, so that was a nice little 6-month diversion from the topic which we were originally considering, which was William Lane Craig’s article on “Theistic Critiques of Atheism. As you may recall, Craig posted a two-pronged argument: the arguments against atheism, and the arguments for theism. We’re up to the second argument of the second prong, the cosmological argument for God.

Cosmological Argument. A simple version of this argument might go:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Conceptual analysis of what it means to be a cause of the universe then helps to establish some of the theologically significant properties of this being.

As with his first argument for God, the Cosmological Argument suffers from a number of flaws, not the least of which is his naïve assumption that there was once a time when the universe (including time itself) did not exist.

Let’s look at Craig’s detailed analysis.

Premiss (1) seems obviously true—at the least, more so than its negation. It is rooted in the metaphysical intuition that something cannot come into being from nothing. If things could really come into being uncaused out of nothing, then it becomes inexplicable why just anything and everything do not come into existence uncaused from nothing. Moreover, the conviction that an origin of the universe requires a causal explanation seems quite reasonable, for on the atheistic view, if the universe began at the Big Bang, there was not even the potentiality of the universe’s existence prior to the Big Bang, since nothing is prior to the Big Bang. But then how could the universe become actual if there was not even the potentiality of its existence? It makes much more sense to say that the potentiality of the universe lay in the power of God to create it. Finally, the first premiss is constantly confirmed in our experience. Atheists who are scientific naturalists thus have the strongest of motivations to accept it.

His first premise “seems obviously true”—at least to our naïve experience. It’s certainly the most consistent observation we can make at the macroscopic level, even if it’s not necessarily true at the quantum level. Personally, I prefer to state this observation in terms of the truth being consistent with itself. We see certain factors in operation, and we see certain phenomena consistently produced as a result, and therefore we say that the observed factors are the causes of the observed phenomena. This does not guarantee that all phenomena will have observable prior factors in operation beforehand, but our observations (at the non-quantum level) definitely support this overwhelmingly.

Where Craig gets into trouble is when he starts trying apply this line of reasoning to the very atypical case of the entire cosmos, including time itself, coming into being. He assumes that the phrase “origin of the universe” refers to a temporal sequence in which, at time X, no universe exists, and then at time X+1, the universe does exist, because of some factor that was in operation at time X. Since time itself is a property of the material universe, however, the “origin” of the universe is not a reference to a chronological beginning, but more like a geographical term, like the “origin” of a Cartesian graph—a location in space-time, not a process of transformation.

Craig’s math is off by one. The origin of the universe, and of time itself, is X0, the original moment of time. There is no moment of time X0 – 1 prior to the beginning of time at X0. Thus, there has never been any point in time at which the universe did not exist, and therefore it is simply nonsense to argue about whether or not “potentiality” existed during the time prior to the existence of time. Such nonsense can only lead to credulously superstitious conclusions, like saying “it makes more sense that the potential lay in the power of God to create it.” Such thinking makes no sense at all, since it simultaneously asserts that time existed for God to create in, even though time did not exist, because God had not created it yet.

We’ll continue with points 2 and 3 tomorrow.

 
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Posted in Unapologetics. 41 Comments »

41 Responses to “Theistic Critiques of Atheism, part 12”

  1. John Morales Says:

    Heavy going, but relevant (and supports DD):
    The Uncaused Beginning of the Universe, (1988), Quentin Smith

  2. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    It surprises me how well WLC does in debates when I see how unsophisticated his arguments are. But then I remembered that debates are about sounding right rather than being right, and as long as he sounds confident when he espouses this crap and the opposition doesn’t have time to explain why he’s wrong, he’ll do marvelously.

    Gish Gallop ftl.

  3. Pliny-the-in-Between Says:

    These theologically-based arguments always seem to suffer from confirmation bias. If you start from a premise that God exists as taught to you when young, most people will immediately begin to think, “how do I reconcile this with the existence of God”, instead of simply observing and trying to determine a logically consistent explanation that fits the facts (i.e., science)

  4. cl Says:

    Moved to the forums

  5. Eneasz Says:

    There is also the problem of defining “begins to exist”. What does that even mean? When does a chair “begin to exist”? Is it when the last nail is put in place? If the last nail had been lost before it was nailed in, would it never transform from a collection of wood into a chair? When does a pile of sand cease to exist and a beach begin to exist? When does water cease to exist and steam begin to exist?

    When sufficiently investigated, it turns out that nothing “begins to exist”. There is only matter and energy combining as Alethea dictates, and the names that we give to various combinations of these. No “thing” has ever really “begun to exist”. Aside from (maybe) the universe itself. So how can he assert that “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.” when our sample size of observed “things that begin to exist” is zero? Sounds like he’s simply making things up by playing with how human minds catagorize things.

  6. David Evans Says:

    I don’t think even Premiss 1 is secure. Quantum mechanics says that particles can come into being uncaused. If so the idea of a state without the potentiality of creating something may not be coherent. As someone said, “nothing” is unstable. Also, even if the premiss were “constantly confirmed in our experience”, that would not rule out its having being violated at a very untypical time when none of us existed.

  7. cl Says:

    I would say to WLC that I currently don’t believe a successful ontological argument exists, and I think Christians are misguided in attempting to sway people with the Cosmological Argument. When it comes to the creation of the universe, we must start with a free lunch no matter what we believe, and Bertrand Russell laid this one to rest a long time ago. WLC’s argument relies on his presupposition that Consciousness was present before the universe – which if true changes T0 in DD’s argument hence destroying it – but WLC’s argument relies on presupposition and there’s no way around that. I’ll leave it to others to discern DD’s presuppositions, as I think both WLC’s argument falls short, and DD’s rebuttal. DD can’t disprove WLC’s presupposition without presupposition of his own.

  8. Deacon Duncan Says:

    You don’t see a problem with time existing before time existed?

  9. cl Says:

    When I say time what I refer to is all past, present and future post-Planck Time events taking place in this universe – IOW – everything > your X subscript 0. Of course I see a problem with time thusly described existing before it existed.

  10. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Works for me. :)

  11. cl Says:

    I’ll note your agreement, and I further submit: the fact that time as described cannot have existed before it existed does not preclude causation – unless of course one wishes to argue from presupposition.

  12. Deacon Duncan Says:

    I’ll wait until someone proposes a model in which actual creation (as in “producing a state transition from non-existence to existence”) can be meaningfully described in the absence of time.

    For right now, I think it’s sufficient to say that the material universe has always existed (i.e. there was never a time when it did not exist), and therefore Cosmological and/or First Cause arguments are inherently and irredeemably flawed, since they apply a naïve time-based perception of cause and effect to a situation that fails to be analogous due to the absence of time at a crucial point.

  13. cl Says:

    I’ll wait until someone proposes a model in which actual creation (as in “producing a state transition from non-existence to existence”) can be meaningfully described in the absence of time.

    I previously defined time as, “all past, present and future post-Planck Time events taking place in this universe.” The absence of time not thusly described is exactly the presupposition your argument requires. That’s why I submit that my claim – that you can’t refute WLC’s presupposition without presupposition of your own – stands.

    ..I think it’s sufficient to say that the material universe has always existed (i.e. there was never a time when it did not exist),

    When time is defined as all past, present and future post-Planck Time events taking place in this universe, of course there was never a time when the universe did not exist. What do you submit such proves?

    Cosmological and/or First Cause arguments are inherently and irredeemably flawed,

    Did you miss the part where I agreed to that? I submit that your refutation is as flawed for identical reasons. All you’ve done is to counter WLC’s presupposition with your own. If that works for you, that’s fine. It doesn’t work for me, and I’m okay with our disagreement.

  14. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Perhaps you should (re)define what you mean by “time,” since you seem to have some notion of the concept that does not exclude the possibility of time existing outside of itself. If you define time as being the events taking place in this universe, then the things that fall outside that specification are thereby excluded from fitting your definition for “time.” It is no presupposition on my part—by your own definition, “time” does not exist outside the limits you’ve defined for what “time” means. Otherwise your definition is wrong.

    As for the fact that there was never a time when the material universe did not exist, First Cause theologians argue that God is exempt from the need for a prior cause because He is uncreated, and that which has always existed is exempt from the need for a prior cause. Consequently, the fact that the universe has always existed is a sufficient refutation for the First Cause argument for God. It does not need to be caused by God because it does not need to be caused, period.

    (PS – Please note that the topic of discussion here is Craig’s Cosmological argument, and my comments are addressing that topic. Attempts to make it sound like I am unfairly accusing you of promoting a First Cause argument are likely to be judged as an attempt to derail the discussion, and will be dealt with accordingly.)

  15. jim Says:

    I might point out that ’cause’ does not equal ‘creation’. Causality is merely how we describe transitional states, while creation (in the context of gods ‘creating’ something) means literally bringing something from absolute nothingness. Whether this universe has always existed, or has emerged from some underlying, more fundamental reality (where time might still be said to be operating, depending on the definition), this still says nothing about some ‘creation’ taking place. As far as we know, the principle behind such a creation (the ex nihilo type) doesn’t even exist! It just seems to be an idea, an abstraction with absolutely no basis in the observable world.

    I generally find Craig’s approach to be a combination of philosophical flimflam and the cherrypicking of corroborating speculative scientific hypotheses. It’s the age old apologist’s game of hitching your wagon to the biggest float, then claiming you’re leading the parade. But I’d also caution skeptics about leaping onto the latest theoretical bandwagon too quickly; a lot of this stuff is still up in the air, and it makes my skeptical tummy feel a bit queasy when I see well-intentioned rationalists being too sure of themselves (especially non-experts) concerning some of these mostly unresolved scientific issues.

  16. cl Says:

    I described time as, “all past, present and future post-Planck Time events taking place in this universe,” and you agreed. Let’s call this T1. Under this definition, I have now stated my belief 3X that it is impossible for T1 to exist outside of T1, so I really don’t know why you keep noting the already-noted.

    Since we don’t know what (if anything) existed before Planck Time (T1), does it not remain possible that a series of events != T1 existed? Let’s call this hypothetical series of events T2.

    The non-existence of T2 is what you must presuppose in order to refute WLC’s argument. That’s why I say you both argue from presupposition. Your presupposition seems to be that T1 somehow precludes T2, which I’ve referred to here before as a sort of “meta-time.”

    WLC’s argument requires the positive presupposition that there was a “meta-time” – else you are correct and he has no logically permissible framework in which to place creation – while your argument requires the negative presupposition that there was not a “meta-time” – else I am correct and you have no T2-vacuum on which to ground your challenge to WLC.

    If you define time as being the events taking place in this universe, then the things that fall outside that specification are thereby excluded from fitting your definition for “time.”

    Correct. Such is not problematic for my argument because I don’t presuppose that time thusly defined (T1) constitutes or precludes all past, present and future events (T2). On the other hand, you must make this presupposition to refute WLC’s, just as he must make his presupposition to argue the Cosmological Argument. As much as I’d love to be able to point to some ontological argument as ironclad proof for God, my commitment to Alethea requires that I be consistent.
    As I say WLC’s argument fails on account of presupposition, I say your response does, too.

    ..by your own definition, “time” does not exist outside the limits you’ve defined for what “time” means.

    Correct. All past, present and future post-Planck Time events taking place in this universe (T1) do not exist outside the limits of time defined as “all past, present and future post-Planck Time events taking place in this universe.” Such does not support your presupposition that time thusly defined (T1) precludes a time (i.e., time not thusly defined, T2) where all past, present and future events did not exist.

    PS – I’m well aware of the topic, and I’ll respond to your last paragraph in the forums.

  17. jim Says:

    I wrote a little series playing with some of the concepts, if anybody’s interested. Just for fun.

  18. jim Says:

    Hm, I’ve been having more trouble with hyper-links lately! Anyhow, here’s the destination for anybody who’s interested-

    http://reasonvsapologetics.blogspot.com/2009/04/shapes-in-clouds-pt1.html

  19. Deacon Duncan Says:

    cl —

    I’m afraid I can’t find a coherent definition of what “time” is in your argument. You speak of a “[chronological?] series of events” as being a “T1″ time, and some other “[chronological?] series of events” as being a “T2″ time, but such a set of conditions implies that neither T1 nor T2 are time per se, but rather are merely subsets of events occurring relative to a common chronology that permits chronological distinctions to be made between them (eg your statement that “we don’t know what existed before Planck time”—a chronological distinction between T1 events and putative T2 events). Your argument is therefore inconsistent with what you originally said you were referring to when you used the word “time.”

    Also, events may occur in a chronological context, but this does not mean they are time itself. They are conditions that are related to one another according to a chronological ordering imposed by the existence of time, but they neither define nor make possible the passage of time. Stasis can also have a duration, without having any events.

    But I digress. The point is that if there exists a chronological duration prior to Planck Time, this presupposes that your “T1″ time is merely a subset of a larger chronological context, which means that your definition of time is incomplete and thus inaccurate. Nor does referring to this larger chronological context as “meta-time” do anything to help your case, since your “meta” time is simply a chronological ordering of events into “before Planck Time” and “after Planck Time”. And that undercuts your claim that you don’t have a problem with time existing before time existed (even if you do call it “meta-time”).

    Granted, it is a rather difficult and counter-intuitive subject to discuss. But I have to admit that so far your objection seems to be chiefly an equivocation over what the term “time” (and related concepts of chronology) could be taken to mean at any given point in any given sentence. The Big Bang theory, and the evidence which supports it, seem to be pretty clear about the minimum absolute value of time, and I’m going to stick with that until something better comes along.

    If you have a better definition of time, and can describe it in coherent and verifiable terms, I’m sure Dr. Hawking and others would be very interested in reviewing your derivations, as would I. But so far it just sounds like double talk to me.

  20. Deacon Duncan Says:

    By the way, when I said “works for me,” I was only agreeing that your original phrase, as stated (i.e. not including any additional baggage which you might have been mentally associating with it) seemed like a not-too-inaccurate approximation of the same point I was making. My agreement does not extend as far as any of the misconceptions and/or ambiguous concepts of “time” that you seem subsequently to have wanted to attach to it.

  21. Deacon Duncan Says:

    My first reply was rather wordy, but perhaps we can boil it down. Can you explain what the word “time” means in the following 2 sentences?

    All past, present and future post-Planck Time events taking place in this universe (T1) do not exist outside the limits of time defined as “all past, present and future post-Planck Time events taking place in this universe.” Such does not support your presupposition that time thusly defined (T1) precludes a time (i.e., time not thusly defined, T2) where all past, present and future events did not exist.

    What exactly does it mean to describe “time” as not being defined by the definition of time?

  22. cl Says:

    Just to reiterate, I do not support Craig’s Cosmological argument, or DD’s attempted defense. DD asked,

    Can you explain what the word “time” means in the following 2 sentences? (DD)

    All past, present and future post-Planck Time events taking place in this universe (T1) do not exist outside the limits of time defined as “all past, present and future post-Planck Time events taking place in this universe.” Such does not support your presupposition that time thusly defined (T1) precludes a time (i.e., time not thusly defined, T2) where all past, present and future events did not exist. (cl)

    Sure. First off, T1 represents “all past, present and future post-Planck Time events taking place in this universe.” We know for sure that T1 exists, and T1 is most certainly a chronological order of events proceeding outward from 10^-43 seconds. That’s what you said “works for me” to, no baggage has been added, nor do I seek to attach any ambiguous concepts. T2 represents any potential conditions that may have existed before T1. Incidentally, T1 may be a subset of T2 – and/or T1 and T2 may both be subsets of a larger chronological context T or even T3. In fact, all chronological contexts that have ever existed and will ever exist are in the T set.

    So, the first instance of the word time in the two sentences you asked about refers to 10^-43 seconds, the second to everything between 10^-43 seconds and now (T1), the third again to 10^-43 seconds, the fourth again to everything between 10^-43 seconds and now (T1), and the fifth and sixth instances both to T2. What those two sentences are saying is that the fact T1 cannot exist outside T1 – which you and I agree on – in no way precludes the existence of T2, which you need in order to win your counterargument against Craig.

    ..your objection seems to be chiefly an equivocation over what the term “time” (and related concepts of chronology) could be taken to mean at any given point in any given sentence.

    That’s not it at all. I actually object to your presupposition that T = T1 when today’s top physicists are still debating the implications of Higgs Boson, for example. Remember, T2 represents any potential conditions that may have existed before T1. So when you say,

    There is no moment of time [X subscript 0] – 1 prior to the beginning of time at [X subscript 0],

    Problem is, “moment of time [X subscript 0] – 1″ in your sentence would be the same as T2, so all you’re really doing is simply presupposing “there is no [T2].” I agree that the Big Bang theory and the evidence which supports it are pretty clear about the minimum absolute value of T1. Big Bang evidence offers nothing conclusive on T2, although it looks promising that Higgs Boson and/or multiverse theories might shed some light in that direction. We can cross that bridge when we get there, but as it is, WLC’s argument assumes instances of T2, when we do not know whether or not T2 existed, hence his is an argument from presupposition – while your argument precludes instances of T2, when we do not know whether or not T2 existed, hence yours is equally an argument from presupposition. As commenter jim wisely reminds us, “a lot of this stuff is still up in the air.” My skeptical tummy also gets a bit queasy when I see well-intentioned rationalists being too sure of themselves concerning some of these mostly unresolved scientific issues, and that’s why I’m cautioning you and WLC thusly.

    ..if there exists a chronological duration prior to Planck Time, this presupposes that your “T1? time is merely a subset of a larger chronological context,

    In a sense, yes, but don’t you think you’ve written an odd sentence? We’ve established that if it existed, a “chronological duration prior to Planck Time” would be equivalent to T2, distinct from T1 and that both T1 and T2 would be in the set T. If T2 exists, that T1 “is merely a subset of a larger chronological context” (T) is (truly!) an Undeniable Fact, and no presupposition is required.

    ..that undercuts your claim that you don’t have a problem with time existing before time existed.

    Now DD, why did you claim I said the opposite of what I actually said? My verbatim claim was, “Of course I see a problem with time thusly described existing before it existed.” To repeat myself – I DO have a problem with time (T1) existing outside of time (T1). The point is, today’s top physicists are investigating whether or not T2 existed. WLC needs to presuppose it did in order to make his case. You have to presuppose it didn’t in order to make yours.

    So, I side with neither of you, patiently awaiting the scientific evidence.

  23. pboyfloyd Says:

    “1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause”

    I have a huge problem with this play on words. It seems to be begging for the answer, “God-did-it!”

  24. Hunt Says:

    Taking note of Jim’s admonition about not speaking with confidence of things one doesn’t really understand, IMO cl is conflating time with space–in that T2 sounds like an alternate universe, cut off absolutely from our own, governed by T1 (or whatever). If you have one space whose time domain is completely inaccessible to another, unless you’re talking about some scheme where matter is shared but time is not, you’re talking about another universe. Now, of course, you can theorize a God who bases his activity in another universe affecting our own, but I think we can all agree this is pure speculation.

  25. Deacon Duncan Says:

    cl —

    Right. So in other words, the definition of time which you originally gave (and which I originally agreed with) is different from the actual, functional definition of time (i.e. chronological context) you are really using. You’re essentially denying that the Big Bang marks the minimum absolute value of time, and asserting that time (chronological context) extends backwards beyond (before) the Big Bang. Otherwise the phrase “before the Big Bang” is literally nonsense.

    Claiming to have defined “time” when you are really only designating arbitrary distinct periods of time within a larger chronological context, merely serves to confuse the issue. You might just as well have picked “all events that have happened since the Spanish-American War.” That’s not what time is, it’s just an arbitrary grouping of events within an arbitrarily-specified timeframe in the universal chronological context we call “time”. It’s the universal chronological context—time itself—which currently appears to have an absolute minimum value, and that (to return to the point at hand) is why the Cosmological Argument is a bogus argument for God.

  26. cl Says:

    Moved to the forums

  27. cl Says:

    And DD, I could use some clarity on this: You said my argument,

    ..undercuts [my] claim that [I] don’t have a problem with time existing before time existed. (DD, bold mine)

    My verbatim claim was in fact that “I have a problem” with time existing before time existed? In the interest of clarity, can you please acknowledge that the claim you attributed to me was not a claim I made? Otherwise, it looks as though I’ve completely contradicted myself by both saying “I don’t have a problem” and “I have a problem” when in reality I only said the latter.

  28. cl Says:

    Moved to the forums

  29. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Correction:

    I wrote

    Nor does referring to this larger chronological context as “meta-time” do anything to help your case, since your “meta” time is simply a chronological ordering of events into “before Planck Time” and “after Planck Time”. And that undercuts your claim that you don’t have a problem with time existing before time existed (even if you do call it “meta-time”).

    In fact, cl said he did have a problem with time existing before time. I wrote my comment late at night, and revised it several times before posting, and got confused in my own mind as to who was claiming what about when. What I meant to say was that, by proposing that the chronological context extends to some period of time before the beginning of what cl defined as “time,” he was creating a problematic self-contradiction wrt his own argument. Unfortunately it came across as a misquote of what cl said, and I regret the error.

    That said, cl’s objection, on the whole, is still hopelessly incoherent as regards what time is and what its boundaries are. ;)

  30. cl Says:

    ..I wrote my comment late at night, and revised it several times before posting, and got confused in my own mind as to who was claiming what about when.

    Thank you.

    That said, cl’s objection, on the whole, is still hopelessly incoherent as regards what time is and what its boundaries are.

    I disagree, and I’ll sit aside until you address commenter jim. He and I are making almost the exact same argument, except that his comes without the explicit claim that your counterargument to WLC’s fails. [lurk]

  31. Deacon Duncan Says:

    I think you’ve rather missed my point. Craig is not wrong just because he’s making an assumption, he’s wrong because his argument is self-contradictory. There can be no such thing as “before the beginning of time,” yet Craig asserts that God caused time to begin. That implicitly asserts the existence of time and the non-existence of time in the same set of initial conditions: time must exist in order for God to act chronologically BEFORE the beginning, and yet time must not exist, otherwise the beginning is not “the beginning.” This is a perfect self contradiction; if time does not exist, then it is not true that time exists, and if time exists, then it is not true that it does not (yet) exist.

    If it were merely the case that Craig were proposing a presumptive probability (i.e. time existed before the Big Bang), then you could balance his presupposition against what you claim is my “presupposition.” But we’re not talking about two equally probable alternatives here. Craig’s argument is a self-contradiction, because it asserts that God created time (and the rest of the material universe), when such a concept is inherently nonsensical.

    Nor does it help to move God “outside” of time (whatever that means), because the point of putting God outside of time is to escape the contradictions that arise when you try to put God before the beginning of time. But if God’s alleged creative acts did not occur before the universe came into being (to speak naïvely and inaccurately), then it’s rather meaningless to describe His actions as being the “cause” of creation. There’s no point in “creating” the universe after it already exists!

    For that matter, any “event” or “action” is a change in conditions that is dependent on the existence of time. “Change” is a difference between conditions as they exist at some time Tn and some subsequent time Tn+1, which requires the existence of time in order to create a chronological separation between the two sets of conditions. If no change occurs, no action or event has taken place, and thus it is not meaningful to speak of any actions or events outside of time. A God Who existed outside of time would necessarily exist in some form of stasis, without thought, perception, or movement, until such time as time began to pass—at which point it’s too late to start attempting to create the cosmos, because it already exists.

  32. cl Says:

    [/lurk]

    Well, I wanted to lurk until you addressed jim’s comments, but for some reason you keep addressing mine.

    Craig is not wrong just because he’s making an assumption, he’s wrong because his argument is self-contradictory.

    While I agree Craig’s argument relies on a pet presupposition, we won’t know whether Craig’s argument (or yours) is wrong or not until we know what if anything came before 10^-43 seconds.

    There can be no such thing as “before the beginning of time,”

    …and that’s your pet presupposition I’ve alluded to for over a dozen comments now. There may have been something before the Big Bang, as the amplitude of CMB fluctuations is not the same in all directions and today’s top physicists and cosmologists are investigating this very question: for example Carroll, Singh, Corichi, Kamionkowski, Erickcek and others. Your amateur post ignores these professional scientists and contains no mention of things currently being investigated like the inflation, the curvaton, or new hypotheses like Loop Quantum Gravity (LPG) – which contradicts your claim – and is still being tested. Believe what you want, I’m waiting for the evidence. Are you privy to data from the recent Herschel-Planck satellite launch that I’m not?

    “It’s no longer completely crazy to ask what happened before the Big Bang,” comments Marc Kamionkowski, Caltech’s Robinson Professor of Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics.December 16 in the journal Physical Review D, supported by the Department of Energy and by Caltech’s Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and Physics.

    Now talk to jim, and please let me lurk.

    [lurk]

  33. cl Says:

    DD,

    Please disregard my comment June 23, 2009 at 5:39 pm. I accidentally posted the rough draft! [Moderator’s Note: Done!]

    ***************

    [/lurk]

    Well, I wanted to lurk until you addressed jim’s comments, but for some reason you keep addressing mine.

    Craig is not wrong just because he’s making an assumption, he’s wrong because his argument is self-contradictory.

    While I agree Craig’s argument relies on a pet presupposition, we won’t know whether Craig’s argument is wrong or self-contradictory or not until we know what (if anything) came before 10^-43 seconds.

    There can be no such thing as “before the beginning of time,”

    …and that’s your pet presupposition I’ve alluded to for over a dozen comments now. There may have been something before the Big Bang, as the amplitude of CMB fluctuations is not the same in all directions and today’s top physicists and cosmologists are investigating this very question: for example Carroll, Singh, Corichi, Kamionkowski, Erickcek and others. Your scientifically-outdated post ignores these professionals and contains no mention of things currently being investigated like the inflation, the curvaton (field), or new hypotheses like Loop Quantum Gravity (LPG) – which contradicts your claim, and is still being tested.

    “It’s no longer completely crazy to ask what happened before the Big Bang,” -Marc Kamionkowski, Caltech’s Robinson Professor of Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics.

    Believe what you want, but I’m waiting for the evidence. Are you privy to data from the recent Herschel-Planck satellite launch that might favor your hypothesis over the aforementioned professionals’? If not, then it would seem the current evidence doesn’t support your hypothesis over theirs, so by your own standards you should stop making presuppositions and remain agnostic about what existed before 10^-43 seconds.

    Talk to jim. Let me lurk.

    [lurk]

  34. jim Says:

    For the record, all I’ve posited is an alternative to the ‘closed time’ scenario that Duncan’s put forth, and which seems to be the most fashionable these days. Both views are quite speculative, but when I read the literature, sometimes I get the suspicion that some scientists are a little too eager to wrap everything up in a nice, self-enclosing package. However, my intuitions regarding what these things really mean, and how they operate, are at least as suspect as the rest.

    I think Duncan’s main point is that Craig’s attempt to remove God from the logical necessities of his own argument are ultimately contradictory. Basically, what goes for the universe as far as time is concerned, also goes for God, and those contradictions remain no matter which of the two time scenarios one chooses.

  35. Deacon Duncan Says:

    cl —

    You’re still missing the point. If time existed before the Big Bang, such that it were possible for a god to create the Big Bang, then that time is not the product of creating the Big Bang. It is “uncreated” time, as it were, and it flows into the time that exists as an attribute of our material universe, so it’s really the same dimension of time as ours.

    If the attributes of the material universe, such as time, extend backwards before the Big Bang, that means that the Big Bang itself is merely part of a larger n-dimensional cosmos with at least one uncreated property: time. God cannot be the creator of time, for all the reasons I’ve already outlined. Pushing the origin point of time back before the Big Bang only pushes back the point at which the creation of the (larger) cosmos would need to take place, if it were indeed a creation and not a cosmos which has existed for all of time.

    The physicists you cite only weaken Craig’s case, they don’t create loopholes for it. If the known space-time continuum is an emergent condition resulting from the natural properties of some larger n-dimensional cosmos with uncreated material properties, then a supernatural Creator is less necessary, not more so, especially considering that the only known attribute of this larger cosmos, time, is necessarily uncreated. Since we must necessarily posit a larger cosmos whose known attribute(s) are neither sentient nor created, the Cosmological Argument still fails to provide a justification for concluding that a Creator exists, even if you push Creation back before the Big Bang.

    Craig’s problem is not that the Big Bang per se sets a (possibly spurious) limit on when God could create time, his problem is that regardless of whether he puts the Creation at or before the Big Bang, it is still self-contradictory to propose that God could create time (or act outside of time). The debate in modern physics is all very interesting, but if they succeed in pushing back the origin of “Creation,” all that does is make an irrelevant adjustment to when Creation would have to occur. It does not alter the problems inherent in how God would have to actually perform the creation.

  36. Deacon Duncan Says:

    And by the way, how can one thing be “before” another in the absence of time? That’s like one thing being “one mile south” of another in the absence of location.

    The biggest problem with your argument is that you keep trying to make it sound like a mere presupposition to say that chronological relationships require chronology. It’s logic, not presupposition, that says a chronological relationship like “before” cannot exist in the absence of the property (e.g. “time”) that orders things chronologically. The only thing I’m presupposing is rationality. A thing cannot exist in the absence of itself.

    I mean, seriously.

  37. jim Says:

    Duncan says-
    “The physicists you cite only weaken Craig’s case, they don’t create loopholes for it. If the known space-time continuum is an emergent condition resulting from the natural properties of some larger n-dimensional cosmos with uncreated material properties, then a supernatural Creator is less necessary, not more so…”

    THIS is the crux of the matter, since apologists of Craig’s ilk are counting on an ex-nihilo creation event to prop up their Kalam style cosmological arguments (though Duncan has pointed out how even those fail). The last thing Craig wants is a material universe that extends beyond the big bang into the past, whereby the known universe is simply a bubble emerging from a sea of eternal physicality. It absolutely destroys the rationale behind requiring a creator, since in this view everything that IS always WAS, albeit in a different form, so that NOTHING NEED EVER BE CREATED (which is the way I tentatively see things, btw).

    Which of the two scientific theories is correct is an interesting question, but either of them refutes Craig’s main premise. However, the real point here is that Craig’s premise refutes itself due to its inherently contradictory elements, where no matter how you slice it God winds up being both timeless and timebound at the same time.

  38. jim Says:

    cl said-

    “While I agree Craig’s argument relies on a pet presupposition, we won’t know whether Craig’s argument is wrong or self-contradictory or not until we know what (if anything) came before 10^-43 seconds.”

    This is incorrect. His presupposition is wrong BECAUSE it is self-contradictory, for the aforementioned reason(s).

  39. cl Says:

    [/lurk]

    Man, you sure are persistent. I guess lurking is not an option. On at least one occasion, you appear to be doing exactly what you accused me of in earlier comments: using the same exact word ‘time’ to mean different things at different places in your argument. To clarify, let’s stick to two of the terms I suggested: T and T1. All brackets mine, meant to indicate what I believe you’re trying to articulate.

    You’re still missing the point.

    Maybe, and I realize that’s what you think. While I don’t know if you’re able to consider whether you just might be missing my point, I realize the intense cognitive dissonance such could entail. Still, I claim I can prove (again) that I’m not missing your point very easily, by agreeing with what I believe you’re trying to articulate in each of the following:

    If time existed before the Big Bang, such that it were possible for a god to create the Big Bang, then that time is not the product of creating the Big Bang. It is “uncreated” time, as it were, and it flows into the time that exists as an attribute of our material universe, so it’s really the same dimension of time as ours.

    Sticking to the terms I introduced, I believe the above becomes, “If [T] existed before the Big Bang, such that it were possible for a god to create the Big Bang, then that [T] is not the product of creating the Big Bang. It is “uncreated” [T], as it were, and it flows into the [T1] that exists as an attribute of our material universe, so it’s really the same dimension of [T] as ours.”

    If that’s what you’re saying, I say it sounds correct.

    If the attributes of the material universe, such as time, extend backwards before the Big Bang, that means that the Big Bang itself is merely part of a larger n-dimensional cosmos with at least one uncreated property: time.

    Sticking to my terms, I believe you meant, “If the attributes of the material universe, such as time, extend backwards before the Big Bang, that means that the Big Bang itself is merely part of a larger n-dimensional cosmos with at least one uncreated property: [T].”

    Although your premise is poorly worded and packed with the presupposition that ~T1 “extends backwards,” those are quibbles, as your conclusion is crystal-clear and unavoidable presuming I’m interpreting you correctly: if any chronology comes before the Big Bang (T1), the Big Bang (T1) merely becomes a subset of T. So, it appears you understand my T sets rather well.

    God cannot be the creator of time, for all the reasons I’ve already outlined. Pushing the origin point of time back before the Big Bang only pushes back the point at which the creation of the (larger) cosmos would need to take place, if it were indeed a creation and not a cosmos which has existed for all of time.

    I believe the above becomes, “God cannot be the creator of [T], for all the reasons I’ve outlined. Pushing the origin of [T] back before the Big Bang only pushes back the point at which the creation of the (larger) cosmos would need to take place, if it were indeed a creation and not a cosmos which has existed for all of [T].”

    If that’s what you meant, I say it sounds correct.

    Since [Craig] must necessarily posit a larger cosmos whose known attribute(s) are neither sentient nor created, the Cosmological Argument still fails to provide a justification for concluding that a Creator exists, even if you push Creation back before the Big Bang.

    Correct, and I’ll say for the FIFTH time now that I reject Craig’s cosmological argument (and all sub-variants I’ve heard).

    Craig’s problem is not that the Big Bang per se sets a (possibly spurious) limit on when God could create time, his problem is that regardless of whether he puts the Creation at or before the Big Bang, it is still self-contradictory to propose that God could create time (or act outside of time).

    I was never concerned with Craig’s problems, as I don’t support his argument. Again, sticking to the terms I introduced, I believe this becomes, “Craig’s problem is not that the Big Bang per se sets a (possibly spurious) limit on when God could create [T1], his problem is that regardless of whether he puts the Creation at or before the Big Bang, it is still self-contradictory to propose that God could create [T] (or act outside of [T]).”

    If that’s what you mean to say, I say correct – and if God creating T is how both you and jim are interpreting Craig’s argument, then jim is most certainly correct that I misunderstood your previous “self-contradictory” rebuttal to Craig along these lines. I don’t know if Craig argues that God created T, but if Craig argues that God created T, such certainly seems logically impossible, indeed. Myself, I do not argue that God created T. I certainly do argue that God created T1.

    Anyways, I think that’s enough on your first comment for now. Let’s see how these go over. Perhaps then we can continue once you’re satisfied that I both 1) reject Craig’s argument, and 2) reject Craig’s argument for all the right reasons.

    *****************

    As for your second comment,

    ..how can one thing be “before” another in the absence of time?

    I’ve not said one thing can be before another in the absence of T. I’ve said it’s possible that things came before T1. I submit this misunderstanding was you hastily addressing my statements, again.

    The biggest problem with your argument is that you keep trying to make it sound like a mere presupposition to say that chronological relationships require chronology.

    I’ve not once said it is presupposition to say that chronological relationships require chronology. Again, I submit this misunderstanding was you hastily addressing my statements, again.

    It’s logic, not presupposition, that says a chronological relationship like “before” cannot exist in the absence of the property [T] that orders things chronologically.

    Correct, if by ‘time’ you mean what’s indicated by my bracketed adjustment.

    The only thing I’m presupposing is rationality.

    I honestly believe that’s what you honestly believe, and remember that I’m not here to defend Craig. What would you say are the weaknesses of your argument?

  40. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Ok, so my argument is and always has been that the flaw in Craig’s argument is that it is inherently impossible for God to create time (T), which you originally defined as coincident with “time since the Big Bang (T1).” I tend to think that T1 and T are coincident, but I’m open to the possibility that they’re not, and it doesn’t matter to my argument since the inherent contradiction lies in the impossibility of creating time (T). So I was willing to go along with your original definition of time (T) as coinciding with T1, because my argument works just fine if they’re coincident. If they’re not, however, then your original definition is incorrect, because T1 is only a subset of T, and not the definition of T itself. If T is the larger set, and T1 only a subset of T, then the definition of “time” applies to T, not T1, and specifically the beginning of time refers to the beginning of T, not the beginning of T1.

    I’ve not once said it is presupposition to say that chronological relationships require chronology. Again, I submit this misunderstanding was you hastily addressing my statements, again.

    When I say, ‘There can be no such thing as “before the beginning of time,’” I am referring specifically to the fact that chronology (time, T) is a prerequisite for chronological relationships (e.g. “before”). When you respond directly to this statement by saying, “that’s your pet presupposition I’ve alluded to for over a dozen comments now,” I think it should be at least understandable if I perceive a certain implication that my observation is merely a presupposition. Did you mean something different when you said that was the “pet presupposition” you’d been accusing me of all along?

    I honestly believe that’s what you honestly believe, and remember that I’m not here to defend Craig. What would you say are the weaknesses of your argument?

    What’s the point of continuing to present arguments with known weaknesses? :)

    So, then, have I addressed your concerns regarding my reasons for disputing Craig’s Cosmological Argument?

  41. cl Says:

    So, then, have I addressed your concerns regarding my reasons for disputing Craig’s Cosmological Argument?

    No. You’ve clarified them which is great, but I need a break and some skateboarding. I’ll get at you tomorrow.