Rebutting the rebooted rebuttal

Recently, I read an article that was designed to be a rebuttal of the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

Overall, a lot of it was a re-hash of arguments that William Lane Craig answered elsewhere, but I felt a response was needed, so what follows is that.

First of all, I had to read this twice to actually believe what I was reading. To start, he tries to list a definition of actual infinite to argue against the impossibility of an actual infinite of past events. The problem exists is that he’s dealing with the wrong definition. He’s referring to an abstract set of numbers and a pure mathematical definition of actual infinite. But what is relevant in this case is not the pure definition of actual infinite, but a set of actual infinite things (in this case, moments/intervals of time). This is like using the definition of the number nine to disprove that a set of nine things cannot exist (and probably wouldn’t anyway, since, we all remember, seven eight nine….)

He then goes on to argue two things, that  “1. Any pre-existing entity/entities that caused the universe do not have to be personal with a mind and will. 2. Any cause of the universe does not have to be the god of the Bible. No reason is given why biblical mythology should be taken more seriously than other bronze age mythology.” But, the Kalam Cosmological Argument (hereafter KCA) does not aspire to prove #2, so that point is irrelevant (especially when you consider that the argument was originally conceived of by a 12th century Muslim…) As far as #1 is concerned, it does indeed imply that, even if it obviously does not explicitly state it within KCA itself. Keep in mind that the Big Bang produced time, space, and matter. Therefore, anything existing prior to that, must be timeless, spaceless, and immaterial. Consider also that the since change is moving from one state with respect to another with respect to time, and time had yet to come into being, it must also be changeless. Given all that, we also know that the universe is a metaphysically contingent entity. This mean it did not have to exist, and did not always exist (also backed up by current scientific evidence). Also, it is obvious that the sufficient conditions for the universe to exist or begin did not always exist, otherwise the universe would have always existed as well. Nothing could have changed for these sufficient conditions for the universe to begin because the cause must be changeless. But, also from what was just stated, also immaterial (thereby eliminating possible material causes), timeless, and spaceless, all causing a non-necessary event. The best explanation for this is a personal mind willing something to happen. If there is an appeal to something as-of-yet unknown, it is up to that person to supply a.) good, compelling reason as to why this is a better explanation, and b.) a good explanation of what this thing is. This issue is also addressed (admittedly a tad sparingly) here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/argument-from-contingency , http://www.reasonablefaith.org/in-defense-of-the-kalam… , and http://www.reasonablefaith.org/god-as-the-cause-of-the… .

The counterargument offered immediately after this borders on absurdity. He tries here to argue that there was no beginning to the universe by establishing some form of contradiction. First of all, it is obvious the universe began to exist because all scientific evidence points to that, and so here he for some reason chooses to ignore all of this. This alone proves that his S1 and S2 states are distinct. Furthermore, they would be distinct just by there very definition since non-being and being are obviously distinct from each other by the virtue of what they are, and so none of his four possibilities are applicable or even relevant. His dismissal of his possibilities 3 and 4 are undermined by the nature of the Big Bang itself. With the Big Bang we can see that it is possible for an event to be prior to the creation of time, or simultaneous with time itself.

There are two possibilities for the occurrence of the Big Bang in relation to the creation of time. Let’s say that the point at which time came into being is t, and the Big Bang is t-1. Since time came into existence with the Big Bang, and the Big Bang occurred, then t-1 happened first, then time came into being at t. Or, the other possibility is that the Big Bang occurred and time came into being at the same moment, or t-1 and t are simultaneous. So, we can see just from this that either something can occur prior to time coming into being, or where cause and effect co-occur. Frankly I’m not sure why he finds this so hard to grasp, especially since after denying the beginning of the universe, he then goes on to base a couple more arguments on his understanding of the beginning of the universe.

 

His counterexample also confuses me. He states that some things in quantum physics begin to exist without cause while also stating their cause at the same time! Carbon-12 is caused to exist by radioactive decay, and particle-antiparticle creation is caused to exist by matter-antimatter collision. He seems to be conflating and/or confusing cause and randomness here. The law of cause and effect used in the KCA is also not the law of physics mentioned by the author, but a logical law of cause and effect. So here he seems to be confusing that as well.

The issue with Schodinger’s cat does not apply since Schrodinger’s cat is an epistemological problem, not an actual reality problem.

 

The circularity objection also does not make since. God would obviously not be included in the set of NBE, and the set of NBE is empty _by definition_, and would only include things as an intellectual exercise.

 

The equivocation objection is nothing more than the author reading things into the KCA that are simply not there. The KCA states clearly that “_whatever_ begins to exist…”, not just things he seems to suggest it means.

 

The objection of special pleading is ridiculous because it is not obvious that God had to begin to exist at all. In fact, it is up to the atheist to first demonstrate that He did indeed begin to exist for this objection to even be relevant. God, by definition, furthermore, is a metaphysically necessary being. That means that He within Himself provides the sufficient conditions for His existence (which is the definition of metaphysical necessity), and therefore must have always existed if He does exist (and therefore, never had a point where He began to exist). Appealing to the possibility of multiple causes violates Occam’s Razor, and it is up to the objector to demonstrate why it is better to consider a multiplication of causes rather than just one.

 

The appeal to a fallacy of composition is ironic because the author himself uses the laws of thermodynamics and time to argue against the KCA, and thereby commits the same fallacy himself. But, since this is not a physical law of the universe it would not be considered a subset of the universe anyway. Also, it would take some compelling reasons to think that this did not apply to the whole universe. Because otherwise we would encounter a situation in which a universe popped out of nothing for no reason, completely uncaused. We then have to ask ourselves, why then are universes not still popping into existence all the time? Why all of a sudden are they no longer popping into existence from nothing, since there is no rhyme or reason to why they do or do not. We would expect to see whole universes coming into existence all the time. And since the universe is a thing of great magnitude, and anything within it is obviously of less magnitude than a whole universe, why do we not see lots of other things popping into existence? Why didn’t a horse suddenly come into existence on my work table today? Why didn’t I come home to three dogs instead of just one? Or a three headed Cerberus? It would certainly make my dating life a lot easier if I could just wait around for a tall, attractive blond to suddenly appear before me already married to me.

 

His false dichotomy is really not a false dichotomy at all, and would obviously not be the case since we’re talking about the beginning of the universe and all things that constitute known natural causes would be subsequent to that (after 10^-43 seconds after if I remember right….) All in all, this does not seem to be to be much of a defeater of KCA

Atheism’s problem of truth.

It is no surprise that Atheists have values. Many are very upstanding people, not the baby-murdering, puppy-kicking deviants some might expect them to be. Most, especially the more out-spoken of their kind value truth. They believe that truth is important, it is valuable and worth pursuing. That is the very reason they preach that their view is superior to that of religion, because they have truth on their side and it is better to know the truth than not. They say that religion preaches lies and deceives people, and that should be avoided because that is not true.

Implicit in all this, though, is that truth is good, not-truth is bad.

Let me know if any Atheists reading this disagree with anything I’ve said so far. I think it’s safe to say that atheists think truth is good, otherwise they wouldn’t be so vocal about the issue.

Here’s the thing though: this is inconsistent with their own worldview.

To say that truth is good and not-truth is bad is to assign an inherent moral value to truth and non-truth. This is more than saying it is nice to pursue or know truth, or that you personally prefer to do so. This is to say that even if everyone on the planet unquestionably believed non-truth, this would be bad and it would still be better to believe what is true.

If perhaps you think an atheist might disagree with that statement, I would simply pose this scenario. Let’s say that everyone on earth unquestionably believed that the earth was only 6,000 years old, and God created every life form in six days fully formed (and for clarification, I am not a Young-Earth Creationist.). Would this be bad, good, or neither?

The thing about valuing truth, to insisting that other people believe it, to say it is the better way to go, to assign a moral value to truth, implies morality. It is to imply an objective morality by which we judge truth to be good and assign it that value.

Simply put:

1. If truth is morally good, then there is an objective morality

2. Truth is morally good

3. Therefore, there is an objective morality (from 1 & 2).

If we bypass the problems materialistic/naturalistic atheists would have with the existence of abstract things such as an objective morality, we can focus on the big problem this poses for atheism  as a whole.

Simply put: if objective morality exists, then God must exist.

Now, others have written extensively on the moral argument for God’s existence (see point 3 here, for instance) But, let’s summarize the argument here:

  1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

  2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.

  3. Therefore, God exists.

Let’s then insert my argument from above:

Simply put:

1. If truth is morally good, then there is an objective morality

2. Truth is morally good

3. Therefore, there is an objective morality

And combine the two into:

1. If God does not exist, then moral values and duties do not exist.

2. If truth is morally good, then moral values and duties do exist.

3. Truth is morally good.

4. Therefore, objective moral values and duties do exist (from 2 & 3).

5. Therefore, God exists (from 1 & 4).

Worrywort….

There he sits. My dad. In his chair, with his cushions, playing video games. His figure is more gaunt that it used to be. The slope in his neck and shoulders belies the tall, proud man he used to be. But in there, you can still perceive a glimmer of quiet strength. The strength that now is imbued on me and runs in my veins. The same strength that undoubtedly runs in my son’s veins. He has lost much, and sacrificed much in his life. But God has seen him through all of it.

Now, though, the Parkinson’s has taken away that man from us. The dementia resulting from it has addled his mind. He weaves conspiracy theories everywhere and is paranoid to a fault. He is a shadow of the man he used to be. 

But what he used to be wasn’t always that great. He made it clear to me far more times than not that he saw me as a complete failure in life, thought all my decisions were horrible and held me in the shadow of himself and my little sister. He left a legacy in me of self-doubt, feeling incredibly insignificant in life, and a terrible fear that I will be a father like he was.

It wasn’t all bad, though. He’s the one that sparked my passion for science, he built the foundation for reason, strength, and a hard work ethic in me. Taught me right from wrong, and how to treat a woman.

Why do I write all this? Because in my father’s life one of the few constants that he held onto were fear and worry. These things motivated his every decision, every motivation. He spent a lifetime running from them. Guarding against them.

Sure, they led to a lot of really good safety precautions and wise decisions. But, it also led to the very thing that is now killing him. The intense stress from a lifetime of fear has put him in that chair, in the condition he’s in now. And yet, he still clings to it. Still killing him.

I write this to illustrate what worry accomplishes. Nothing at best, decay of our lives at worst.

Christ said in Matthew 6:25-33

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

I especially like verse 27:

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?

 

Luke 12 adds this part after that line (verse 26):

Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

 

Worry does exactly that: nothing. Think about it, just by the act of worrying itself, what has that ever accomplished? I can worry about getting a job, but that does not make a job appear. I can worry about getting into an accident, but that doesn’t make me a safer driver. With all I’ve gone through it’s become incredibly clear to me how little worrying actually accomplishes…..

Now, there is a difference between concern and worry. There’s also a difference between judicious decision making and worry. Worry is a feeling. You might think that “Well, this feeling may not accomplish anything, but it can lead to me doing something which will accomplish something.” But, I would add, worry is not a necessary component in that equation. You can decide to do what is needed, wise, or right without worrying. I can be concerned about something without worrying about it. But the key lies in the decision. Neither of those things necessarily leads to a decision or action. I can decide to be a safer driver because it is the wise thing to do without worrying about getting into an accident. And I know that getting a job is something I need to do to support my son and myself without worrying about it. 

Sometimes we need to separate feeling and action.

This is where trust is inserted. Trusting in the Lord is usually a bigger leap than trusting in another person. A person you can see right there, get verbal or even written confirmation that that person intends to do such-and-such a thing. You can have all sorts of visual or other types of confirmation that it is being or has been done.

With God, you just have to trust the big, abstract guy in the sky.

But, with trusting, with doing, comes ability. It is only through doing sometimes that you can learn to do anything. It’s one of the hardest things you will ever do, and just when you get better at it usually it will suddenly get harder again. But, oftentimes, it is the only way to see results.

Dating and the single dad….

So, I was reading an article on a website I rarely find myself on about why some women might be reluctant to date single dads.

Honestly it’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. The thought is quite intimidating. Shortly after my divorce, in fact, I used to get mini-panic attacks at the very thought. The fact that my ex was still living with me and was with six other guys just in the two months it took our divorce to be final didn’t help much, either. Now I can breathe normal at the thought of dating again, but I find myself reluctant. Sure, single parents date quite often nowadays, but I don’t know if it’s for me. Last time I tried my hand at the dating scene, it was college, I had no children, was full of energy and romantic ideas, and had a lot more disposable income (well, the percent of my income that was disposable was a lot higher, anyways….) Things are vastly different then. For one thing, the dating pool is HUGE. You’re practically swimming in single women at that time in your life. Now, it’s more like a trickle. Most of your options were married before and those that made it through to this stage without having been married usually had a good reason for it (“Why, hello there, Amy Farrah Fowler look-a-like…”) Most attractive women I see around me have nice sparkly things on their left hand.

Then there is the time issue. Last time I was single I had a great deal more freedom and availability. Want to go to dinner at the last minute? Sure, no problems there! Now I have a little one to deal with and it’s wait, let me see if I can find a babysitter. No, nevermind, I just spent that money on diapers; I can’t afford one and my nearest family member is X number of hours away. How’s your next Friday? Doesn’t leave a lot of time together, and I’m someone who likes to spend a lot of time with whoever I’m in a relationship with….

Then there’s the issue of having her be around my son. I refuse to bring a string of would-be mother figures into his life only to have them leave again.

Then there’s the other issue of if I can even accept someone’s love again. It’s just not that I got divorced, it’s that I got divorced after a two-and-a-half year abusive marriage after my wife repeatedly cheated on me and lied about it. After something like that, a person tends to seriously doubt their appeal to the opposite gender, and worry about winding up in the same type of relationship again. Since this was my first relationship ever, too, it makes me wonder if I even could get into a normal relationship again.

Then there’s the fact that I can’t just find a good woman, I have to find a good woman who also would be a good mother, which would probably narrow down my search even more.

Honestly, all in all, at this point I’m seriously reconsidering going back to dating ever in the near future. It’s too much to deal with, and I worry too much about how it will affect my son.

 

Who wrote the book of love? I wanna know who to ask for a refund….

After getting through a divorce you inevitably reach a point when you wonder if anyone will ever love you again. Be able to love you again. The ringing of what you perceive to be your greatest romantic failure is still filling your ears. Most people assure you that you will find love again, “You’ll see”… But that ringing deafens you to even the warmest of reassurances. You wonder how if I gave everything I had to someone and it wasn’t enough to keep them, then what I have might not be enough to keep anyone. It’s not one of those casual relationships or minor flings where the person “just didn’t know what they had.” In a marriage, especially when it is failing, you give everything in you, and it’s still not enough to keep them. You wonder if anything in you is enough to keep anyone else.

It’s what I wonder.

Especially in my case. My ex-wife was my first everything. First relationship, first girlfiend, first woman who actually loved me. No other woman had, and the first woman who did ending up being seriously damaged. That makes it worse.

The only woman I’ve ever been able to get turns out to have serious issues. It makes me seriously doubt if there will ever be a “normal” woman who will love me.

And then there’s the disbelief. Right now if some woman told me they loved me I think I’d recoil in disbelief, unable to accept it as possible. Part of me panics at the thought of it.

I’m generally one to point out that it is completely possible to live a fulfilling, satisfied life as a single person, but it’s a little unsettling after a divorce to think maybe that’s your only choice.