Monday, December 23, 2013

Objections to the Kalam argument

What is the Kalam argument?

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore the universe has a cause.

What are some common objections to the Kalam argument?

Are these objections intractable? 

1. Something can come from nothing. 

Dr. Craig writes,

"Sometimes it is said that quantum physics furnishes an exception to premise (1), since on the sub-atomic level events are said to be uncaused. In the same way, certain theories of cosmic origins are interpreted as showing that the whole universe could have sprung into being out of the sub-atomic vacuum or even out of nothingness. Thus the universe is said to be the proverbial “free lunch.” This objection, however, is based on misunderstandings. In the first place, not all scientists agree that sub-atomic events are uncaused. A great many physicists today are quite dissatisfied with this view (the so-called Copenhagen Interpreta- tion) of quantum physics and are exploring deterministic theories like that of David Bohm. Thus, quantum physics is not a proven exception to premise (1).36 Second, even on the traditional, indeterministic interpretation, particles do not come into being out of nothing. They arise as spontaneous fluctuations of the energy contained in the sub-atomic vacuum, which constitutes an indeterministiccause of their origination. Third, the same point can be made about theories of the origin of the universe out of a primordial vacuum. Popular magazine articles tout- ing such theories as getting “something from nothing” simply do not understand that the vacuum is not nothing but is a sea of fluctuating energy endowed with a rich structure and subject to physical laws. Such models do not therefore involve a true origination ex nihilo. [1] 
"Sometimes skeptics will respond to this point [premise 1] by saying that in physics
subatomic particles (so-called “virtual particles”) come into being from
nothing. Or certain theories of the origin of the universe are sometimes
described in popular magazines as getting something from nothing, so that
the universe is the exception to the proverb “There ain’t no free lunch.” 
This skeptical response represents a deliberate abuse of science. The theories in question have to do with particles originating as a fluctuation of the energy contained in the vacuum. The vacuum in modern physics is not what the layman understands by “vacuum,” namely, nothing. Rather in physics the vacuum is a sea of fluctuating energy governed by physical laws and having a physical structure. To tell laymen that on such theories something comes from nothing is a distortion of those theories.                                                                                                                                        
Properly understood, “nothing” does not mean just empty space. Nothing is the absence of anything whatsoever, even space itself. As such, nothingness has literally no properties at all, since there isn’t anything to have any properties! How silly, then, when popularizers say things like “Nothingness is unstable” or “The universe tunneled into being out of nothing”![2]
2. The argument does not entail the cause must be omnipotent, omniscient, and good. 
This is true and that is why Craig doesn't conclude the cause must be omnipotent, omniscient and good. Craig would say this is why further arguments must be given, like the modal ontological argument,  moral argument, or the resurrection of Jesus, to show the cause must be omnipotent, omniscient, and good found in the person of Jesus Christ. Moreover, to argue some minds are dependent on brains to think does not entail all minds are dependent upon brains to think.  

3. If an actual infinite cannot exist then an infinite God cannot.

Dr. Craig writes,
"Rather the key to your question is to understand that the mathematical notion of an actual infinite is a quantitative concept. It concerns a collection of definite and discrete elements that are members of the collection. But when theologians speak of the infinity of God, they are not using the word in a mathematical sense to refer to an aggregate of an infinite number of elements. God's infinity is, as it were, qualitative, not quantitative. It means that God is metaphysically necessary, morally perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, and so on.
Really "infinity" is just a sort of umbrella term used to cover all of God's superlative attributes. If you abstract away all of those attributes, there really isn't any distinct attribute called "infinity" left over. But none of those attributes need involve an infinite number of things. To take ...[an] example..., omniscience need not entail knowing an infinite number of, say, propositions, much less having an infinite number of thoughts; nor need we think of omnipotence as entailing the ability to do an infinite number of actions.1 When we define omniscience as knowledge of only and all true propositions, we are expressing the extent of God's knowledge, not its mode. The mode of God's knowledge has traditionally been taken to be non-propositional in nature. God has a single undivided intuition of reality, which we finite knowers break up into individual bits of information called propositions. Thus, the number of propositions is at best potentially infinite. Similarly, omnipotence is not defined in terms of quanta of power possessed by God or number of actions God can perform but in terms of His ability to actualize states of affairs. As such it involves no commitment to an actual infinity of things. Therefore, there's no reason to think that God is susceptible to the sort of quantitative analysis imagined by the objection.
Thus, denying that God is actually infinite in the quantitative sense in no way implies that God is finite. This inference does not follow, since the quantitative sense of infinity may be simply inapplicable to God."[3]
4. William Lane Craig is presupposing Christianity.
Of course Dr. Craig presupposes Christianity, just as much as naturalists presuppose naturalism. No one comes to the evidence in a neutral way. Neutrality is a myth, and this is why Craig must be more upfront to this fact. But to criticize Craig for doing the very thing the naturalist is doing is hypocritical. It is a double standard at its best!  

[1] Dr. William Lane Craig. Reasonable Faith (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008).p.p.114-115
[2] Dr. William Lane Craig. On Gurad (Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2010)p.76.
[3] Dr. William Lane Craig. 

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