Wednesday, May 07, 2014

William Lane Craig defends the argument from contingency

William Lane Craig defends the argument from contingency. Here. 

21 comments:

jdhuey said...

WLC said:
"A. If atheism is true, the universe has no explanation of its existence."

JDH: I (as an atheist) don't believe that this is correct. The universe may or may not have an "explanation" (whatever that means). It is also possible that there is an "explanation" but that the observations necessary to uncover that explanation are not possible.

As I see it "A." should be written:

A. If atheism is true, the universe has no theistic explanation of its existence.

jdhuey said...

WLC said:

"2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God."

This statement has three interpretations that I can see:

i. If the universe has an explanation then the only explanation possible is the classically defined concept - the deity named God.

ii. If the universe has an explanation then there has to be some deity involved (the classically defined one or not) and we are going to put the label of "God" on that deity.

iii. If the universe has an explanation then whatever that explanation is - purely naturalistic or theistic - we are going to label that explanation "God".

Now I would guess that WLC intends interpretation i. but I see the other definitions to be equally sound. The second two interpretations show that the premise as presented is just playing fast and loose with the word "God".

B. Prokop said...

Or you could re-word the question to read, "If atheism is true, then the question 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' cannot be answered."

Personally, I want an answer to that question. Any "ism" that doesn't provide one is just not going do it for me. Same thing goes for meaning and purpose. Any set of beliefs (or non-beliefs) that doesn't provide for them is a non-starter as far as I'm concerned.

Understand, I not arguing this - just stating what works for me. If someone else doesn't care why he's alive or how he got here in the first place, that's fine. Just don't ask me to think the same way, 'cause it ain't gonna happen.

jdhuey said...

B. Prokop said:
Or you could re-word the question to read, "If atheism is true, then the question 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' cannot be answered."

JDH: I'm not sure I agree with your statement as written. I would say:

If atheism is true, then the question 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' cannot be answered in any way that will satisfy a theist until they reject theism.

John Mitchell said...

Concerning the argument from contingency: everybody should read Alexander Pruss' brilliant aricle from the blackwell companion. It can be found online. He linked to it on his blog
Especially the part where he argues that everything that can have a caue does have a cause.

https://bearspace.baylor.edu/Alexander_Pruss/www/papers/LCA.html

B. Prokop said...

jdhuey,

Then how would you answer the question?

Remember, if you're going to punt to physical laws (a la Hawking), then you're still in the position of answering "Why are there physical laws?" and even "Why are they these laws, and not others?"

im-skeptical said...

"Then how would you answer the question?"

Why is there God rather than no God? It seems to me the answer, if there is one, is the same.

jdhuey said...

B. Prokop,

You asked: "Then how would you answer the question?"

Well, I have to answer with the single most unsatisfactory answer possible: I don't know. Also, it could very well be the case that it is impossible to know. However, my disposition is such that I would rather live in a state of not knowing, than accept as true a story that has no real evidence to support it.

WRT to the other two questions, I'll get back to you - I'm real short on time right now.

B. Prokop said...

Skep,

We've been through this like 900 times already, but you are still failing to grasp the distinction between "God exists" and "God is existence". As Yahweh said to Moses when asked for His name, "I am who am" (or, in the Vulgate, "ego sum qui sum").

And let's not even get into the distinction between contingent and non-contingent being!

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

This is a question that I don't believe I have explored extensively. This article from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia makes it very clear that God exists.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06608b.htm

B. Prokop said...

In my humble opinion (I refuse to use texting abbreviations!), the only reason why speakers of English have cause to say "God exists" is because of the inadequacies of language. God is more properly styled the Source of All Existence. He is not "a being" but rather Being Itself. (Hmmm... doesn't one of the commenters to this site use that moniker?) He is definitely not a "thing" but rather the Maker of and Before All Things.

Were you a fellow Christian (or a Jew), I would proceed to indicating all (or, at least, several of) the places in Scripture that show this to be the case. But knowing in advance you'd have zero interest in such, I will refrain.

im-skeptical said...

"But knowing in advance you'd have zero interest in such, I will refrain."

Sorry to hear you say that.

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

"In my humble opinion (I refuse to use texting abbreviations!), the only reason why speakers of English have cause to say "God exists" is because of the inadequacies of language. God is more properly styled the Source of All Existence. He is not "a being" but rather Being Itself. (Hmmm... doesn't one of the commenters to this site use that moniker?) He is definitely not a "thing" but rather the Maker of and Before All Things."

Scotus would not deny anything you say but would still insist that there is a univocal sense in which "is" or "exists" is likewise predicated of God and creaturely beings. The view has not been condemned by the Church. This is just an example, but others could be given; either way, since I do not pretend to understand Scotus, I will refrain from saying anything more.

B. Prokop said...

grodrigues,

Problems of language again. Since we can make "is" statements about God, in that sense "God exists" follows. Unfortunately, what the word "exists" means for you and me is quite different than what it means for God. We really need two separate words for two such radically different concepts.

The way I see it, "God exists" is true, as far as it goes... but it doesn't go far enough. In the end, it's only a half truth, and more than a bit misleading. It can give the erroneous impression that He exists like the chair I'm sitting on exists, or you, or me.

Sometimes, when I'm outdoors on a sunny day, it occurs to me that I'm not really seeing this tree or that blade of grass or that bench over there - I'm actually seeing the Sun, no matter where I look. Because all that I see is light streaming from the Sun, striking this or that object, and reflecting back onto my retina. But it's all sunlight. Blue sky speculation here, but just perhaps we experience all reality in the same way - as reflections of the Divine Light. ("Through Him all things were made") That's why, when some atheist insists on "evidence" for God, I'm left scratching my head as to how to answer - because it's all evidence. Everywhere I look, I see God.

Papalinton said...

Bob: "Everywhere I look, I see God."

Ooooo, I'd be careful Bob. Your claim is bordering on heresy. Almost pantheism writ large

{"Christianity refutes pantheism. Christianity says that God created everything, not that he is everything or that everything is God. While Christianity teaches that God is omnipresent, or exists everywhere, it separates the Creator from his creations." See Here]

You should not be saying, "Everywhere I look, I see God"; rather you should be saying,"Everywhere I look, I see the products of God".

Just helping you out not to stray too far from the straight and narrow. Lucky these days though, christians largely see heresy as a 'slap on the wrist' offense rather than a garroting one.

B. Prokop said...

"You should not be saying, "Everywhere I look, I see God"; rather you should be saying,"Everywhere I look, I see the products of God"."

You are correct, Linton (though I might change the word "products" to "works"). Once again, it's that damned English Language! (Just kidding - I love the English Language.)

Consider me garroted.

Papalinton said...

You're welcome Bob. But garroting is sooo out of fashion these days, or rather should be; so you ain't been garroted, simply advised.

Papalinton said...

Incidentally, why are you up so early, 4.45am? Insomnia? It's 10.13pm here in Royalla, Australia.

B. Prokop said...

I've always been an early riser. It's not as bad it looks, however, since all the comments on this site are set to Pacific Standard Time, and here in Maryland I'm on Eastern Daylight Time. So add two hours to the time hack.

B. Prokop said...

My morning coffee routine is to check out this blog and the following websites:

HERE
HERE (although today's is rather stupid - look through the archives for more typical fare)
HERE
HERE
and HERE.

Martin said...

I think Craig's version is rather weak. If you want a good version of the contingency argument, you can't beat Alexander Pruss.

I've seen atheist tell me that this version is a head-scratcher, and that IF they were to become theist, it would be because of that.

It is also very similar to the First Way, BTW.