The Secular Outpost: Atheist Manifesto
When asked for reasons for thinking that God exists, most people reply with amateur versions of the first cause or design arguments. For most people, even philosophers like William Lane Craig, the idea that the universe "came into existence out of nothing" is just absurd. After all, in our ordinary experience things don't just pop into existence or spontaneously disappear (except socks in the washer and car keys). As Craig puts it somewhere nobody would expect a full-grown Bengal tiger to just materialize out of thin air. In short, from nothing comes nothing. However, this reasoning is fatally flawed. Our common-sense expectations about things coming into or going out of existence are based entirely upon our experience within the space/time universe with all its conservation laws in force. We have no experience at all of the beginning of space/time itself, and there is no reason whatsoever to think that our everyday intuitions would apply to such a situation. If the physics of the last century has taught us anything, it is that our common-sense intuitions simply might not apply to the realities studied by fundamental physics. You and I cannot be in two places at once; an electron can. I have no intuitions at all about the beginning of space/time, and if I did I would not trust them.
While not necessarily giving a full and complete endorsement to the Kalam Cosmological Argument, surely everyone accepts some version of the causal principle. We think there need to be causes for things. We want to know why. This search for an answer to why questions doesn’t stop when the ordinary methods of naturalistic science offer no more answers. To then turn our curiosity off and say we shouldn’t look for any more answers because certain methods are not available to us seems question-begging.
While some versions of the causal principle are too strong, others seem presupposed by the success of human inquiry. See the following
Further, if we restrict the use of common-sense principle to what goes on within the physical universe, what other principles do we have to similarly restrict. How about Ockham’s razor. Why should superior success of simpler theories to more complex ones within the physical universe make someone think that this sort of principle can be extended beyond the physical world. If the causal principle has to be restricted, then this one does too. If the atheist wants us to accept an Ockham’s Razor argument for atheism (which Parsons does appeal to in his reply to Moreland), but also insists that we restrict the causal principle to a naturalistic framework, then he or she needs to explain why she can make both moves. I think there’s an inconsistency here.