Wednesday, December 30, 2015

William Lane Craig on the size of the universe argument



John Mitchell said...

"For the carbon that makes up our bodies was synthesized in the interior of stars and then distributed throughout the universe via supernovae. It takes aeons for galaxies of stars to form and even more time for the carbon requisite for life to be spread abroad to become the foundation of biological life. No other element could substitute for carbon in this role. So the universe must be as old as it is for life to exist and, hence, as big as it is..."

It is somewhat obvious that the above is very likely true if theism is false.

But if theism is true there is no necessity for this kind of evolving universe that needs ages to produce carbon.
There might be reasons for God to create the universe in such a way but there also might be reasons not to.
If theism is false, the only way a universe can produce carbon is to age, expand and form stars and so forth. On theism this is unnecessary.

So i'm sorry, but Craig does not get around the fact that this slightly favors non-theism over theism.

entirelyuseless said...

John Mitchell, Craig did not try to "get around" that fact. He makes the same statement himself.

Joe Hinman said...

That's a common view I used to battle on CARM and on my boards. They all want to assume they know what God thinks. They knew everything that goes into making a universe, they know just what God was after.

I find it so odd how easily they make the equation God = direct instant creation and evolution = no God. That's what there's no reason for is that assumption.

John Mitchell said...

"John Mitchell, Craig did not try to "get around" that fact. He makes the same statement himself."

You're right he does. My bad.

John Mitchell said...

The question this raises is whether Craig is inconsistent in regards to the evidential argument from evil, if he concedes that size and age of the universe favor non-theism over theism.

"In summary, I think that the probabilistic version of the problem of suffering is no more successful than the logical version. It requires probability judgments that are way beyond our ability to make"

Read more:

Let's say we have really no idea how the existence of God and suffering are related to each other.
Then i would think P(E/T) is about 0.5 where E abbreviates the evidence of suffering and T theism.
On non-theism E is very very likely given the apparent necessity of evolutionary processes for the existence of life.
I dont think that's a probability judgement that is "way beyond our ability to make" because you dont even need to argue that the probability of suffering given theism is extremely low, only low in comparison.

He goes on to say:

" fails to take into account the full scope of the evidence for God’s existence, and it is diminished in force when it comes to the Christian, or biblical, God"

Does he mean that vast suffering is extremely likely on the assumption of the existence of the Christian God ?
He lists four Christian doctrines that allegedly increase the probability of suffering but do they lead us to expect suffering as much as we would do on the assumption of non-theism?? Hardly....

"Therefore, since neither the logical version nor the probabilistic version of the problem of evil successfully shows that God does not exist, I conclude that the intellectual problem of suffering fails as an argument for atheism"

That raises the question of what the purpose of a probabilistic argument from evil is.
Is it to show "God does not exist" or is it rather to demonstrate that suffering favors non-theism over theism ??
I dont see how it could show that 'God does (probably) not exist' because by the very nature of the case, it just deals with one piece of evidence viewed in isolation.
If you overstate the purpose of an argument it is not surprising that you will in the end conclude that it fails to achieve its goal.

B. Prokop said...

This is a rigged game of "Heads I win, tails you lose!"

If the universe is too big, the atheist will say it proves God couldn't possibly be interested in our tiny planet. If it's too small, he'll say that just shows there's no God because He should have created something bigger.

If we're the only intelligent life out there, the atheist will say that shows there's no God, else why all that wasted space. And if the universe is crammed full of intelligent life, then once again, we're claimed to be beneath any self respecting deity's interest.

I could continue, but you get the drift. I have no interest in playing.

Jezu ufam tobie!

John Mitchell said...

"If the universe is too big, the atheist will say it proves God couldn't possibly be interested in our tiny planet. If it's too small, he'll say that just shows there's no God because He should have created something bigger."

Craig assumed that a small universe would be favoring theism over non-theism and nobody so far denied that.
He argues that if you agree that a small universe favors theism you should concede that a large one slightly favors non-theism.

You can't always pounce on the strengths of theism but then start to cry 'unfair' when something points in the opposite direction because some atheist somewhere might have said something.

B. Prokop said...

The way I see it, the only possible universe worthy of The Creator would be infinite in extent, both in time and space. That's why, although I do not consider the multiverse hypothesis to be in the least bit scientific, I am strongly attracted to it philosophically. As a matter of fact, it was anticipated by the British philosopher Olaf Stapledon, way back in the 1930s. So in truth, the vaster the universe, the more it "supports" theism (a term I personally despise).

But that's just me. I do not presume to speak for my Creator (see Job, Chapters 38-41).

Jezu ufam tobie!

John Mitchell said...

"The way I see it, the only possible universe worthy of The Creator would be infinite in extent, both in time and space."

Well, if you think actual infinities are possible and that there can have been an infinite number of past events.

"That's why, although I do not consider the multiverse hypothesis to be in the least bit scientific, I am strongly attracted to it philosophically."

Many theists believe in a theistic multiverse, i belief Craig deems it very likely, too.
There are even people who hold to some kind of theistic modal realism although i think most theists reject even the idea of God having 'counterparts'

"So in truth, the vaster the universe, the more it "supports" theism"

That sentiment seems to me confusing the concepts of 'universe' and 'multiverse' (horrible terminology anyway)
I think a vast and large multiverse is very likely on theism, however our particular universe does not need to be old and large on theism, it could be very small and young.
I dont think theism makes any real prediction regarding the age and size of any particular universe and that's why the age and size of 'our' universe may very well be evidence favoring non-theism over theism because age and size fall into the range of data that seem necessary for our existence if theism is false

B. Prokop said...

"Well, if you think ... there can have been an infinite number of past events"

I've posted repeatedly and extensively on this subject here on DI that an infinite series of past events (in any particular universe) is logically impossible. However, that in no way rules out the possibility of an infinite regression of universes, since time is not a factor between universes.

I agree about the horrible term "multiverse". I much prefer omniverse.

B. Prokop said...

I would like to make myself crystal clear on this matter, and reading over my past comments here, I fear I may have not done so yet.

First off, we need to disabuse ourselves of a very false notion of history. Atheists all too often accuse believers of employing a "God of the Gaps" manner of thinking, in which various natural phenomena have (temporarily) no explanation, so the believer will fall back on divine action to explain the mystery. But that is not how it appears to have happened in the real world. Read Hesiod's Theogony or The Epic of Gilgamesh, two of the earliest pieces of literature that remain to us, and what do you see? What you see is the exact reverse! The recognition of God comes first, and is only then is followed by making a connection between various natural phenomena and divine activity. Such a process could only be labeled a "God of the Filled In Spaces" method of reasoning.

Secondly, there is a pervasive (and totally false) idea going around today that science has somehow over time displaced Man from a privileged place in the universe. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ancient and Medieval thinkers did not consider the Earth to be the center of the universe, but rather the bottom of it. It was the humblest, the lowliest, the least desirable location within it. And as for the significance of the Earth in the cosmos, even Ptolemy wrote that in comparison to the planetary spheres and the stars, the Earth should be regarded as no more than a mathematical point!

I have more to write, but it's New Year's Eve, and I mark that occasion every year by watching the Soviet movie The Irony of Fate , which is more than 3 hours long. And if I want to finish it before 2016, I need to put in on the DVD player... NOW!

Jezu ufam tobie!

Dave Duffy said...

"I do not presume to speak for my Creator (see Job, Chapters 38-41)"

Bob, I enjoyed some of your wise and enjoyable commentary before Mrs. Duffy and I head out for the new New Year. The Lord's blessing on you and yours.

B. Prokop said...

To finish my thoughts from last night...

The size of the universe is a giant neutral. It is evidence neither for nor against the Creator God. To put it bluntly, size does not matter. "Size" is a purely observer driven phenomenon. To a human being standing on the seashore, the ocean is inconceivably vast. From the perspective of Voyager I, taking the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of a pixel-sized Earth from billions of miles away, all the oceans combined are less than nothing. Yet both perspectives are, in their own way and properly footnoted, correct - and equally meaningful.

C.S. Lewis pointed this out in his novel Out of the Silent Planet, when the Oyarsa cautioned Ransom "Do not think of these things [vast expanses of time and space]. You do not understand, and it makes you do reverence to nothings and pass by what is really great."

Jezu ufam tobie!

B. Prokop said...

Well, tonight the weather forecasters are calling for perfectly clear skies, light winds, low humidity, and temperatures (mostly) above freezing. So it's time to head out with my local astronomy club and remind myself just why "The Heavens declare the Glory of God!"

I always start each observing session by getting my bearings. With my naked eye alone, I trace the outline of the Milky Way, figure out where the ecliptic lies, check for any planets above the horizon, and mentally locate myself in relation to the rest of the solar system, galaxy, Virgo supercluster, and the universe as a whole.

Then I'm ready to break out whatever instrument I've lugged out for the night. After setup, I'll train my scope to some random spot in the sky where I can't yet see anything but twilight. It always thrills me to see the field of view in the eyepiece sprinkled with faint points of light, where my eye can see nothing whatsoever. As the evening progresses, the view rapidly fills up with more and more stars, and by now I can see many of them naked eye.

Now I'm ready for some serious observing. I always have a Plan of Action for any particular night. On one evening, it might be tracking down Uranus and Neptune (which are right now relatively close together in the sky). They're a difficult target from where I live, because they never get out of the Washington, D.C. light dome to my south, smearing the sky with the combined light pollution of several million streetlights. On another night, I'll have picked out a particular constellation to explore in detail (tonight, it happens to be Taurus), teasing the more obscure DSOs (Deep Sky Objects) from the background stars. Or I might even have one single, nearly impossible to find star as my target for the night - one that will take long, patient (and frequently frustrating) minutes (or even hours) of searching before I've definitively identified it.

And then I just look. And I engage every faculty I have to do so: my eyes, my mind, my memory (what do I know about the thing), my heart (what does it say to me), and my companions (it's always way more fun to share your view with others - especially if the view elicits an involuntary "Wow!" from someone).

I've posted this once before, long ago. But it bears repetition:

A Prayer Before Observing

GOD, Creator of all things,

As I prepare this evening to look upon Your works,

Grant that I may have the wisdom to perceive You in all that You have made.

The universe is vast, but vaster still are You.

Matter and energy are real, but Your reality is all the greater.

The life that arises on Your worlds is fertile and active, yet it is but a poor shadow of Your mighty works that I can see at every hand.

If I am humbled by my place in such a universe, it is nothing to the humility You showed to Your people, when You assumed our form and became one of us, in the person of Your Son, Jesus Christ.

Teach me, O Lord, in my own life, to appreciate the majesty of all Your works, especially the beauty of those persons near to me - to whom, with Your aid, I can be an instrument of Your love.

As You brought fire to the hearts of suns and galaxies, fill my heart with the fire of Your Holy Spirit.

And help me to remember always, that all that You have made exists to Your greater glory, and is but a pale reflection of Your divine self, upon which I hope to look one day… unimpeded. Amen.