Another Response to an Atheist

In the comments section of a previous post, here is what was written:

Not really. In fact, nothing can be drawn from your theory about the nature of God. There is no particular reason to assume that the universe was created for loving reasons, it just as easily could be done for malicious reasons or indifferent reasons or without thought at all.

http://robertnielsen21.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/god-and-the-creation-of-the-universe/

I have read and watched Craig and generally found him to be a disingenuous speaker.

Here is how I respond to these comments:

“Leaving aside your last sentence, which is a value judgment which probably says more about you than Craig, your point is not carried. Your own writing on the matter reveals how you have not thought through the issue.

The argument from creation is generally formulated in one of two ways: the form from Leibniz and the form which is called the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Both of these are very strong arguments for the need of the universe for a Creator. For now, maybe I can use this word rather than God as that seems to cause you some difficulty.

You have said, “Religious people argue that the universe couldn’t possibly come from nothing. Why not?” The answer to this is simple. Nothing comes from nothing. Period. The Leibniz form of the argument is based on contingency. This means that everything in the universe contains no explanation for its own existence but is instead contingent on something else to explain its existence. Thus, in order for their to be anything then there must be something which exists which is not contingent. This is a logical requirement and is not easily avoided. The Kalam argument relies on the principle of causality. This states that everything which begins to exist has a cause for its beginning. Again, the universe has a beginning and so the universe has a cause. To ask “what caused the cause?” and decide that this question is unanswerable is silly. Logically speaking, in order to avoid trying to rely on an infinite regression of causes (which is both impossible and absurd), we can understand that there must be a First Cause which is not itself caused by anything else.

Thus far, what can be said about the Creator is here:

  • The Creator is distinct from the universe as required by the ideas of cause and effect  as well as contingency.
  • The Creator did not need to create the universe as required by the Creator’s non-contingency.
  • The Creator was not caused by something else as required by the impossibility of an infinite regression of causes and the principle of a First Cause.

Do you disagree with any of the above statements?  If so then please explain why they are incorrect.

If these are all true then much more can be said about the nature of the Creator.  I will pause for now and see what you say about these three points.”

So that is my response.

Your thoughts?

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6 thoughts on “Another Response to an Atheist

Add yours

  1. “Nothing comes from nothing.”
    The how did God supposedly create the universe? What material did he use? Where did it all come from? If the world was nothing more than a vacuum, how was anything created? Do you not see how this is a stalemate?

    “This means that everything in the universe contains no explanation for its own existence but is instead contingent on something else to explain its existence.”
    Why do you exclude God from this requirement? If God is an exception, might there other exceptions? Maybe this isn’t as water tight an argument as you think.

    “we can understand that there must be a First Cause which is not itself caused by anything else.”
    Its just as logical to say that the Big Bang was the first cause as to say it was God.

    “The Creator is distinct from the universe”
    How? Why? The problem I have with this argument and a lot of Craig’s arguments is that it is based on “If I say so it must be true”. Craig simply says something and assumes its true without any back up. For example, he states that God is eternal and needs no creator. Why not? Because he says so. This causes all sorts of problems and goes against a lot of the Bible (how can an eternal incorporeal being have a son. love, talk etc) It is simply stated that God is outside the universe (how this is possible is unknown). All sorts of claims that can never been verified or falsified are said as though they are answers to the problem, despite shedding no light on the topic.

    I discuss and answer your points in full in the link I posted.

    1. You will remember that I chose the word Creator and did not use the word God. Now, let me respond as it seems obvious you simply are not following the line of logic.

      The how did God supposedly create the universe? What material did he use? Where did it all come from? If the world was nothing more than a vacuum, how was anything created? Do you not see how this is a stalemate?

      Here is where the logic comes in. If the universe requires a Creator – and the ideas of causality and contingency mean that this is indeed the case – then the Creator must possess the ability to create the universe from nothing. This is not a stalemate at all. Rather, in thinking through the ramifications of contingency and causality, what emerges are the required characteristics of the Creator. If the Creator is the Sufficient Cause of the universe then the Creator will possess sufficient power, skill, knowledge and ability to produce the universe. If the Creator does not possess these things then the Creator is insufficient and we must search for Creator(2). Of course, if one chooses to reject Creator(1) as preposterous based on poor logic then Creator(2) will be rejected for the same reason. An infinite series of rejections will follow. What is obvious – or should be – is that logic requires the universe to have a Cause and this Cause must be sufficient for the Effect. Thus the Creator is both “uncaused” and able to cause the universe. Do you still disagree?

      “This means that everything in the universe contains no explanation for its own existence but is instead contingent on something else to explain its existence.”
      Why do you exclude God from this requirement? If God is an exception, might there other exceptions? Maybe this isn’t as water tight an argument as you think.

      “we can understand that there must be a First Cause which is not itself caused by anything else.”
      Its just as logical to say that the Big Bang was the first cause as to say it was God.

      The Creator, by definition, is not contingent and not caused. What part of this is so difficult to follow? The nature of the universe (in which everything is contingent upon something else and in which everything has a beginning and thus a cause) requires the Creator of the universe – by definition – to be not contingent and not caused. You seem to be asking why something must be the way it is defined. Why not ask “Why does a square have four equal sides?” or “Why are all bachelors unmarried?” Unless you disagree with the contingency of the universe or with the law of causality then you should surely grant the point that I am making. If the universe is totally contingent and the law of causality is true then, in order to avoid using an actual infinite set (which is an impossibility) as an explanation for the universe, the Creator of the universe must be not contingent and not caused.

      “The Creator is distinct from the universe”
      How? Why? The problem I have with this argument and a lot of Craig’s arguments is that it is based on “If I say so it must be true”. Craig simply says something and assumes its true without any back up. For example, he states that God is eternal and needs no creator. Why not? Because he says so. This causes all sorts of problems and goes against a lot of the Bible (how can an eternal incorporeal being have a son. love, talk etc) It is simply stated that God is outside the universe (how this is possible is unknown). All sorts of claims that can never been verified or falsified are said as though they are answers to the problem, despite shedding no light on the topic.

      Again, I am at a loss to know why this is a problem for someone who seems as capable as you are. The Big Bang cannot be the ultimate cause of the universe because the Big Bang is, allegedly, the beginning of the universe. You cannot appeal to the universe in one form to explain the beginning of the universe in another form. This is what the Big Bang does. The Big Bang might describe how the universe was formed but it cannot explain why or by whom the universe was formed. At the point of the Big Bang, what some cosmologists believe is that all the matter and energy of the universe were compressed into a singularity of some kind. Then it exploded and thus there was the Big Bang (a term coined by Fred Hoyle I believe). What is apparent is that at the point of the Big Bang the universe already existed in the form of this singularity. Thus you cannot appeal to the Big Bang as the ultimate cause of the universe.

      Craig is also right, as am I, in saying that the Creator must be distinct from the universe. This follows logically from the law of causality. Cause is different from effect. Thus the Cause of the universe (the Creator) must be distinct from the universe.

      Craig is quite right in what he says. God is eternal and does not need a Creator. This is true because of Craig’s definition of God which starts exactly where I have started. If the Creator, as I have outlined it, is not contingent and not caused then the Creator is both eternal and not in need of a Creator.

      What I have proposed is quite simple. I have proposed a Creator who is distinct from the universe, who is not contingent and who is not caused. The contingent nature of the universe and the fact that the universe had a beginning seem to require that these things be true.

      Do you still disagree?

      1. The central problem is that you don’t have anything to back up your claims. You say that there must be a first cause, but don’t prove why. You say this first cause must be a Creator, but don’t prove why. This Creator is presumably God but no particular reason why. Personally, I have the argument more with Craig than you, as he simply says these things in such a way that they can never be verified.

        You hit the nail on the head when you say my problem is with the definition. You see this is not a proof or evidence for God creating the universe, but rather simply defining it so. Craig says “god created the universe”. We have a universe, therefore God created it. If you define the Creator as whoever created the universe, then by definition the Creator created the universe. However, this is not proof or evidence for anything, merely self-justifying logic.

        If you claim the Creator is outside the universe and not needing a creator itself, then by definition you have your answer. Unfortunately it only convinces yourself.

        I feel we have gotten slightly sidetracked. Remember that this debate was started with your post “Evidence For Faith”. So far all you have argued for is a form of deism. Even if it is correct, it does not mean that any of christianity is correct. So to get back on track, what is this evidence for Heaven, Hell, Jesus etc? Is there any?

      2. The central problem is that you don’t have anything to back up your claims. You say that there must be a first cause, but don’t prove why. You say this first cause must be a Creator, but don’t prove why. This Creator is presumably God but no particular reason why. Personally, I have the argument more with Craig than you, as he simply says these things in such a way that they can never be verified.

        What has presented to you is a logical argument. In order for you to rationally deny the outcome, you should undermine one of the premises. To claim I have not provided proof is a facile thing to be doing. The reason why is because we are talking about things of first importance. If there is indeed a Creator of the universe then the universe itself will be proof of the Creator’s existence. The universe itself will provide at least some evidence for the characteristics of its Creator. To re-state them simply, here are two logical arguments for the existence of this Creator:

          [1] If every part of the universe is contingent then the universe requires a separate, non-contingent cause in order to explain its existence.
          [2] Every part of the universe is contingent.
          [3] Therefore, the universe requires a separate, non-contingent cause in order to explain its existence.

        That is one “proof” of the requirement for a Creator. In order to deny the final clause, you must refute some part of the first two clauses. Which part is not acceptable to you?

        Here is another:

          [1] Everything which begins to exist has a cause for its beginning.
          [2] The universe began to exist.
          [3] Therefore, the universe has a cause for its beginning.

        Again, the final clause can be refuted by denying either the first clause or the second clause. Which clause do you disagree with?

        If these two logical arguments are not refuted then what follows, quite logically, is that the universe has a Cause which is separate from the universe and which is not contingent. The Cause must be sufficient to explain the effect which is why the Creator must possess the ability to create ex nihilo (out of nothing). The Creator must be separate from the universe or else the idea of contingency is violated (“Every part of the universe is contingent” would include the part of the Creator which was included in the universe thus making the Creator contingent and necessitating a search for another Creator to fulfill the logical requirements imposed by the contingent nature of the universe). The Cause(1) must be “uncaused” because the opposite simply requires positing a Cause(2) in order to explain the beginning of Cause(1). If an “uncaused” Cause is not allowed then what remains is an infinite regression of causes which is impossible.

        You have said I do not have anything to back up my claims. Thus far, my claims have been modest. Unless you can refute them, then the logic of my claims means they are ‘backed up.’

        You hit the nail on the head when you say my problem is with the definition. You see this is not a proof or evidence for God creating the universe, but rather simply defining it so. Craig says “god created the universe”. We have a universe, therefore God created it. If you define the Creator as whoever created the universe, then by definition the Creator created the universe. However, this is not proof or evidence for anything, merely self-justifying logic.

        If you claim the Creator is outside the universe and not needing a creator itself, then by definition you have your answer. Unfortunately it only convinces yourself.

        I have not said this is proof for God creating the universe. However, I freely admit that I think that this line of thinking leads people to the point where the Creator becomes synonymous with God because of the requirements of the Creator. You disagree with the definition but you have yet to explain why. Rather, you feel I have not given proof. Yet I have very clearly given at least two logical “proofs” of the requirement of the universe for a Creator. Which one do you disagree with?

        I feel we have gotten slightly sidetracked. Remember that this debate was started with your post “Evidence For Faith”. So far all you have argued for is a form of deism. Even if it is correct, it does not mean that any of christianity is correct. So to get back on track, what is this evidence for Heaven, Hell, Jesus etc? Is there any?

        No, we have not gotten sidetracked at all. In my original post, I said that philosophy provides evidence for the logical necessity of a Creator. If this point is not granted, which is surely fundamental to Christianity, then how can further progress be made? If God did not create the universe then God has no right to give laws to the universe, God has no right to judge humans, God can have no intrinsic love for people and God would not be justified in punishing anyone. These are the foundations of things such as Heaven, Hell and Jesus Christ. Totally apart from the historic evidences for these things – particularly Jesus Christ – the fundamental requirement in Christianity is the affirmation of God as the Creator of the universe. This is not a sideshow in the circus of sparring with atheists. This is the main thing.

        So again, which one of the above “proofs” do you disagree with? If you grant that they are both true then I will be happy to move on and explain more of their implications.

  2. ” So to get back on track, what is this evidence for Heaven, Hell, Jesus etc? Is there any?”

    You and I can both anticipate the response to this. Here is an extract from a previous discussion in a previous blog entry about homosexuality to which I didn’t reply as at this point I felt I should just ‘give up’.

    Myself: Where is the data that says christianity is true?

    JCordray: Try reading the Bible. Here Christianity is put forward as a religion with historic roots based on actual events. You doubt these things happened. fine. Please offer some evidence which says they did not actually occur as the Bible records them. I will make it easier for you. The Bible clearly says (in 1 Corinthians 15) that if Jesus has not been raised from the dead then Christianity is wrong. So there, then, is your challenge. Disprove the Resurrection of Christ.

    1. You felt you should just give up? Do you mean you cannot disprove the Resurrection of Christ? Because the Bible records it, the Bible is a source. To simply dismiss this is nonsense. Specifically, the Bible records the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These recordings are given by eyewitnesses. So here is eyewitness testimony for the truth of these events. You asked for data and I pointed you to the primary source. Where is the problem here?

      Of course, one can also point to sources outside of the Bible which show that Jesus existed. This is child’s play and indeed no genuine historian denies the reality of the existence of Jesus Christ.

      So, quite clearly, I have provided you with a source of huge amounts of data and you have given up. This is not my fault but yours.

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