How to defend the kalam cosmological argument just like William Lane Craig

UPDATE: Welcome readers from The Way the Ball Bounces! Thanks for the link!

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from Colliding Universes! Thanks for the link Denyse!

This post is the first in a two part series. In case you missed it, here is Craig’s second argument about fine-tuning.

I’ve been watching Bill Craig debates for a long time now, ever since I did my first degree in computer science a dozen years ago. Today I thought we could all learn how to argue Craig’s first argument for God, which he used in his debate with Christopher Hitchens.

Let’s go over Craig’s kalam argument in brief.

The kalam cosmological argument

The argument goes like this:

  1. Whatever begins to exist requires a cause
  2. The universe began to exist
  3. Therefore, the universe requires a cause (M.P. 1,2)

The most important thing for you to realize is that nothing can be sustained in a debate unless it can be phrased as a valid argument according the rules of inference. All of Craig’s arguments can be broken down into logical propositions that use the standard laws of logical reasoning in order to force their conclusions deductively, so long as the premises are true.

Understanding the logical form of the kalam argument

The form of the kalam argument is valid because it allows for a modus ponens inference. (Here’s a primer on logical reasoning)

  • if p is true, then q is true
  • p is true
  • therefore, q is true

That means that so long as premise 1 and 2 are true, the conclusion follows necessarily. This is the same form of argument (deductive) used by Sherlock Holmes in his cases.

Proving the premises

Can the atheist deny that either or both of these premises are true?

  1. “Whatever begins to exist requires a cause”
    If the atheist denies this premise, then they are denying a fundamental law of natural science, namely, that matter can neither be created or destroyed. That is natural law.
  2. “The universe began to exist”
    The universe came into being. If the atheist denies this they are denying the state of the art in modern cosmology.

First, quantum mechanics is not going to save the atheist here. In QM, virtual particles come into being in a vacuum. The vacuum is sparked by a scientist. The particles exist for a period of time inversely proportional to their mass. But in the case of the big bang, there is no vacuum – there’s nothing. There is no scientist – there’s nothing. And the universe is far too massive to last 14 billion years as a virtual particle.

Secondly, atheists will say that the big bang is speculative physics that could change at any moment. But the trend is in favor of an absolute beginning out of nothing. We have had a string of solid, recent scientific discoveries that point in a definite direction, as follows:

  • Einstein’s theory of general relativity, and the scientific confirmation of its accuracy
  • the cosmic microwave background radiation
  • red-shifting of light from galaxies moving away from us
  • radioactive element abundance predictions
  • helium/hydrogen abundance predictions
  • star formation and stellar lifecycle theories
  • the second law of thermodynamics applied to nuclear fusion inside stars

So, insofar as atheists question these discoveries and the origin of the entire physical universe out of nothing, they are opposing the progress of science.

What came into being at the moment of creation?

You need to understand that the big bang theory states that space, time and matter were all created at the moment of creation.

  1. There was no space causally prior to the universe beginning to exist
  2. There was no time causally prior to the universe beginning to exist
  3. There was no matter causally prior to the universe beginning to exist

All of these things began to exist at the first moment.

What can we infer about the cause?

So, space, time, and matter began to exist. What could have caused them to begin to exist?

  1. Whatever causes the universe to appear is not inside of space, because there was no space causally prior to the creation event. The cause must therefore be non-physical, because physical things exist in space.
  2. Whatever causes the universe to appear is not bound by time (temporal). It never began to exist. There was no passage of time causally prior to the big bang, so the cause of the universe did not come into being. The cause existed eternally.
  3. And the cause is not material. All the matter in the universe came into being at the first moment. Whatever caused the universe to begin to exist cannot have been matter, because there was no matter causally prior to the big bang.

So what could the cause be? Craig notes that we are only familiar with two kinds of non-material realities:

  1. Abstract objects, like numbers, sets and mathematical relations
  2. Minds, like your own mind

Now, abstract objects don’t cause of any effects in nature. But we are very familiar with the causal capabilities of our own minds – just raise your own arm and see! So, by process of elimination, we are left with a mind as the cause of the universe. As Sherlock Holmes says, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

This cause created the entire physical universe. The cause of this event is therefore supernatural, because it brings nature into being and is not inside of nature itself. The cause of the universe violates the law of conservation of matter is therefore performing a miracle.

Responding to alternative naturalistic cosmologies

In this published research paper from the journal Astrophysics and Space Science, William Lane Craig responds to the several naturalistic attempts to evade the implications of the kalam argument. I will list each one by name and explain the main problem with each. I highly recommend you read the paper and become conversant with the arguments and evidences.

  1. The steady-state model: disproved by recent empirical observations of radio galaxy distributions, as well as red-shifting of light from distant galaxies moving away from us at increasing speeds
  2. The oscillating model: disproved in 1998 by more empirical measurements of mass density which showed that the universe would expand forever, and never collapse (was named Discovery of the Year)
  3. The vacuum fluctuation model: the theory allows for universes to spawn at every point in space and coalesce into one extremely old universe, which contradictions observations of our much younger universe
  4. The chaotic inflationary model: does not avoid the need for an absolute beginning in the finite past
  5. The quantum gravity model: makes use of imaginary time which cannot be mapped into a physical reality, it’s purely theoretical

Why the kalam cosmological argument matters

We need to make a decision today about how we are going to live. The evidence available today supports the creation of the entire physical universe from nothing, caused by a supernatural mind with immense power. The progress of science has strengthened this theory against determined opposition from rival naturalistic theories.

Those are the facts, and we must all choose what to do with them.

Further study

A good on this topic is the debate between William Lane Craig and atheist physicist Victor Stenger, (audio here). Also, a lecture titled “Beyond the Big Bang”, was delivered at the University of Colorado at Boulder, in front of Victor Stenger and other physicists (audio here). There is a period of Q&A in which Bill must face challengers. These are both available on DVD. More Bill Craig debates are here.

Free speech activist Ezra Levant interviewed about his new book

Canadian free speech activist Ezra Levant has a new book out. I am in the process of reading it right now, because I was lucky enough to get a copy as a gift, autographed! Ezra had to shell out six figures to defend himself from charges that he offended members of a special interest victim group. His new book tells his story, and the stories of many of the other victims of fascism in Canada.

Here is a video he posted this week of his interview with the libertarian Fraser Institute:

Here is his famous opening speech from his first hearing with the Alberta HRC:

Make no mistake. The left has no respect for individual rights. None. Today they confiscate your money to redistribute it to their favored special interest victim groups, while blaming you for working hard. Tomorrow, they arrest and imprison you for saying things that offend their favored special interest victim groups. Leftism is collectivism. Collectivism is fascism.

For more information about the book, the best thing I have seen is Denyse O’Leary’s twelve part series of posts. Part 12 is linked here and contains all of the other 11 parts and an introduction. Here are some excerpts:

Here is a quotation of “Shakedown” from part 2:

The main reason that today’s human rights commissions feel so un-Canadian is that their operations violate the most basic principles of natural justice. As soon as a human rights complaint is filed, the deck is stacked against the accused. For most of Canada’s HRCs, taxpayers foot the bill so that government-paid bureaucrats can investigate complaints and government-paid lawyers can prosecute them. The targets of those complaints, on the other hand, don’t get any government help. Many are too poor to hire lawyers and private investigators. So they must fend for themselves against an army of public paper-pushers.

(A study of the cases in which the Canadian Human Rights Commission investigated allegations of hate speech, for example, foujnd that 91 per cent of the government’s targets were too poor to afford lawyers and appeared either on their own or with representation by a non-lawyer volunteer.) In other words, it’s a turkey shot for the government, with poor, intimidated targets fighting against the unlimited resources of the state. (p. 19)

Check out this quote from Shakedown from part 4:

It’s hard to believe, but government bureaucrats, paid with tax dollars, who are supposed to be promoting human rights and interracial relations, are spending their time becoming members of neo-Nazi websites and writing bigoted comments on the Internet. Their goal is to goad Canadian citizens into replying with their own hateful comments – which the human rights investigators can then prosecute as human rights abuses.

That would be like a police officer setting out lines of cocaine at party, snorting a few himself, then inviting other people to do the same – and then arresting them when they take him up on his offer.

Here is a bit more from part 5:

The March 25 hearing was a disaster for the CHRC. Its staff had to admit, under oath, that they routinely went online under false identities to provoke reactions from neo-Nazis. The CHRC admitted that it had no controls over who had access to these CHRC neo-Nazi website membership accounts. Despite dozens of objections made by CHRC lawyers – apparently to run out the clock on the one-day hearing – the CHRC’s dirty laundry was aired in the national media.

The dirtiest fact of all: the CHRC had logged on to a neo-Nazi website by illegally hacking into a private citizen’s wireless Internet account at her home. It was a means to cover the CHRC’s tracks, so that the identity of the originating, government computers would be hidden. That staggering revelation came from Alain Monfette, a Bell Canada security officer, who had been subpoenaed by Lemire to find out who had gone on online as “Jadewarr,” one of the CHRC’s neo-Nazi codenames. Monfette disclosed to a stunned courtroom that jadewarr’s posts had been made thorugh the Internet account of Nelly Hechme …

Complainants don’t have to pay anything, while defendants are drained of tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. In fact, the defendants taxes go to pay for their own prosecution.

Here’s an excerpt from part 6:

If you’re mad about something in your life, no matter how trivial – no matter if it’s your own fault – there really is no reason not to file a complaint with your unfriendly neighbourhood human rights commission. It doesn’t cost you a thing to start a complaint. Not even the price of a postage stamp – you can just fax your complaint in. If you win, you can get tax-free cash, and often some sort of government order that will try to assuage your feelings – like an order to make those darned pizza boys change the CD at work and stop hiding your stool. And even if you lose and the HRC vindicates your opponent, there’s the cruel satisfaction of knowing that you’ve punished your adversaries by putting them through years of legal hassles.

And one last word from Denyse herself in part 9:

…when I read Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago years ago, one thing that struck me was his testimony that, in general, the Soviet regime punished political dissidents much more viciously than it punished street criminals.

That makes sense in a certain kind of regime. Street criminals, after all, threaten only the citizen. Political dissidents threaten the bureaucrat – a much more serious crime.

And one more thing. Although Ezra is Jewish, he is a tireless defender of the free speech rights of Christians. I mean, he goes out of his way to defend our rights – more than highly-placed Christians have done. He is a real hero.

Buy. This. Book.

Further study

Ezra Levant defends free speech in these video clips from the Michael Coren TV show. And remember, fascist HRCs are bad for business, too.

An analysis of the Democrats socialist health care policies

I would summarize the ideals of Democrats (socialists) as follows:

  1. There are unequal life outcomes in society
  2. Those who have little wealth are the victims of those who produce wealth
  3. We (democrats) must transfer wealth until everyone’s life outcomes are equal, regardless of their life choices
  4. We (democrats) must use government coercion to achieve this equality
  5. Since we (democrats) are so morally superior, we are not obligated to transfer our own wealth to anyone

Consider health care. Some risky lifestyle choices are more likely to require more health care services. The socialist’s goal is to make sure that no one is deterred from making these risky choices. Those who do not engage in these risks must be forced to pay for the health care of those who do choose to take on these risks. That way, everyone is equal in the end.

The way this is done is to make sure that people who don’t engage in risky behaviors cannot pay less for their health care than those who do engage in risky behaviors. Let me explain.

Suppose a safe person S knows that he only needs coverage for catastrophic care, since his lifestyle choices eliminate the need for elective treatments like abortions, birth control, STD medications, sex changes and drug addiction treatments. He can be covered for a very low premium.

Consider another irresponsible, risky person R who is engaged in all kinds of risky behavior. He can be covered for all of the medical services for a very high premium. His own choices expose him to risks that will require more medical services.

Democrats (socialists), solve this problem by forcing S to pay for mandatory health care with a very high premium that covers services he will never use. That way, he is really paying for his own health care, and R’s health care, too.

Take a look at this article I found on Health Care BS. In the article, they cite Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute, who analyzes the health care policies that may be included in the Democrats’ health care reform bill.

This is the one I want to draw your attention to, because this is what single-payer countries like Canada have that causes them so many problems:

An Individual Mandate. Every American will be required to buy an insurance policy that meets certain government requirements.  Even individuals who are currently insured — and happy with their insurance — will have to switch to insurance that meets the government’s definition of acceptable insurance, even if that insurance is more expensive or contains benefits that they do not want or need.

And here is another one that will force employers to lay off American workers because employers have to pay more for the same productivity.

An Employer Mandate. At a time of rising unemployment, the government will raise the cost of hiring workers by requiring all employers to provide health insurance to their workers or pay a fee (tax) to subsidize government coverage.

Yes, that’s right. Socialism attacks businesses. Attacking businesses causes unemployment.

And there’s more:

A Government-Run Plan, competing with private insurance.  Because such a plan is subsidized by taxpayers, it will have an unfair advantage, allowing it to squeeze out private insurance.  In addition, because government insurance plans traditionally under-reimburse providers, such costs are shifted to private insurance plans, driving up their premiums and making them even less competitive. The actuarial firm Lewin Associates estimates that, depending on how premiums, benefits, reimbursement rates, and subsidies were structured, as many as 118.5 million would shift from private to public coverage.   That would mean a nearly 60 percent reduction in the number of Americans with private insurance.  It is unlikely that any significant private insurance market could continue to exist under such circumstances, putting us on the road to a single-payer system.

When government controls your health care, you pay them at gunpoint and when you want care you get in line behind people who paid nothing into the system. That is socialized medicine, the dream of all Democratic socialists.

And there’s also redistribution of wealth:

Massive New Subsidies. This includes not just subsidies to help low-income people buy insurance, but expansions of government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.

And remember what I said about the government needing to reducing costs when demand skyrockets for “free” care?

Government Playing Doctor.   Democrats agree that one goal of their reform plan is to push for “less use of aggressive treatments that raise costs but do not result in better outcomes.”  While no mechanism has yet been spelled out, it seems likely that the plan will use government-sponsored comparative effectiveness research to impose cost-effectiveness guidelines on medical care, initially in government programs, but eventually extending such restrictions to private insurance.

This is all caused by the good intentions of people who have no knowledge of economics, whatsoever. And it is important to note that it is this kind of naive, incompetent meddling in the free-market that leads to poverty and the loss of all of our liberties.

Further study

Here are some previous links that are relevant:

What is the doctrine of peace through strength?

Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan

Image stolen from Douglas Groothuis.

“Si vis pacem, para bellum”
– Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus

It means, “Let him who desires peace prepare for war.”

The idea of peace through strength was paraphrased in George Washington’s first state of the union address, as well as by Presidents Lincoln and Reagan. Margaret Thatcher (United Kingdom) and Stephen Harper (Canada) also believe in peace through strength.

Most wars start when a dictator or monarch (e.g. – Hitler) believes he can win a conflict against a weak neighbor quickly and easily. Perhaps to test out his plan, he takes some small aggressive steps to make sure that no one is going to stop his aggression (e.g. – rebuilding the Luftwaffe, occupying the Rhineland, annexing the Sudetenland, annexing Austria, invading Poland). Once he is able to confirm over and over that no democracies are going to stop his conquests by force, he attacks.

The way to stop most wars is to make dictators believe that you have the means and the will to stop their aggression. Clinton allowed about a half dozen attacks in the 90s without any reprisal, (e.g. – World Trade Center, USS Cole, etc.) We did not respond to these terrorist attacks on our national interests. As a result, Bin Laden would joke about how the USA was a “paper tiger” that did not have the stomach for war. He thought that a few American losses would make us pack up and go home.

Contrast Clinton’s view with Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s biography at the White House web site says this:

“In foreign policy, Reagan sought to achieve “peace through strength“. During his two terms he increased defense spending 35 percent, but sought to improve relations with the Soviet Union. In dramatic meetings with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, he negotiated a treaty that would eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles. Reagan declared war against international terrorism, sending American bombers against Libya after evidence came out that Libya was involved in an attack on American soldiers in a West Berlin nightclub.”

When the USA was attacked by terrorists, Bush, following Reagan’s example, made sure that the aggressors would understand that the first steps of aggression would draw a violent, decisive response. As a result of the Bush doctrine, Libya has discontinued its WMD program and invited inspectors to come in and cart away all of its research equipment. Libya did this only because it believed that the USA was willing to back up diplomacy with force. We can have peace if we cause aggressors to believe that war will cost too much.

Now, violence is not the only way to make war cost too much. We could probably avoid war with Iran or Venezuela or Russia by drilling for our own oil and building our own nuclear plants. No one prefers a war. It’s better to de-fund potential aggressors by supplying our economy with oil that we produce ourselves. This is one good reason to increase domestic energy production. (Another good reason is to lower the price of oil, etc – because of supply and demand: increased supply leads to lower prices)

Reagan won the cold war without firing a shot. But sometimes, especially after 8 years of Clinton’s weak foreign policy, some violence is needed to communicate to our enemies that we mean business. Our  willingness to engage in a military response to the 9/11 attacks was enough to provide us with 7 years free of attacks on American soil. The terrorists knew that next time they attacked us, then maybe Syria would become a democracy. So there were no more attacks on American soil while Bush governed.

Deterrence works. The goal is to AVOID war by making tyrants understand that the cost of their aggression will be too much for them to bear. This is the doctrine of peace through strength.

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile – hoping it will eat him last.”
— Winston Churchill

Evaluating atheistic reponses to scientific arguments for theism

I thought that I would take a serious look at a couple of recent comments from the atheists who have been traipsing through looking for debate summaries. Normally I don’t allow these kinds of comments through to dirty up the blog, but these ones were clean. So, I thought I would post them for all to see how atheism compares to Christianity.

First, let’s take a look at commenter Jason R.

First post by Jason R

First of all, commenter ECM, who is a deist, writes that the scientific arguments “make the painfully obvious case for deism”.

Jason R. writes in response:

“painfully obvious case for deism”

As soon as that case exists then I’m sure Hitch will debate against it. So far the case doesn’t exist. Every argument for deism has been debunked, the supporters of which just need to perform a bit of due diligence and research it.

Here is my reply to his first post

Can you give a list of the arguments for a deistic God that have been debunked?

Here is his reply to my question

Every single one that I am aware of. is good starting point.

What we learn about atheism from this exchange

It is a bad idea for atheists to insinuate that they have disproved the case for theism without citing logically valid arguments with premises that are supported by specific evidence. Because people like me are going to ask you: “what is your reason or evidence to support that assertion?” And you need to be ready to answer that before you make your assertions.

If you cannot even list the arguments for theism, then you don’t know that they have been refuted. If your refutation of my scientific arguments is “Google it”, then maybe you should reconsider your assertions. You’re not helping your team when you cannot list arguments on the other side. Let me be clear: I can argue your case better than you can, and that should concern you.

Commenter ECM adds:

Traditionally, in a debate, one will attempt to at least refute the points laid out rather than falling back on “Google it” and then offering the standard boilerplate materialist reply that ‘it was all one big accident’ but not before, of course, taking a gratuitous whack at theists a la Hitchens.

…Furthermore, if you do not wish to do so (and when your response is ‘Google it’ you clearly do not or cannot), then why waste everyone’s time with the same hollow argument that at least Wintery and I have heard a thousand times?

Second, let’s take a look at commenter Arthur S.

Hist first post

Arthur S. writes:

Everyone of the scientific arguments from the Christian posts site (see list below) has been refuted time and time again as you well know (seek and ye shall find vs. ignorance is bliss) but christians persist in claiming them as being valid. The same is true of the philosophical arguments which are really more about word play than useful proofs of anything.

Now ask yourself a question. What has he really said here? Well, nothing. He makes an assertion that my arguments have been refuted time and time again. What we have here is just an assertion without any evidence, followed by an insult, followed by an unabashed confession of ignorance regarding the construction of philosophical arguments.

His “refutations” of my scientific arguments

1) Creation of the universe out of nothing. (Refuted over and over. In addition the “how, who, what, when, where, why was god created?” are questions that can never be satisfactorily answered. How can a christian be satisfied with the shallow answers provided by the bible?)
2) Fine-tuning of physical constants and ratios to support the minimal requirements for life (see response to 4 below).
3) Origin of biological information in the simplest living organism (please read up on evolution before using this tired argument again).
4) Galactic, stellar and planetary fine-tuning to support the minimal requirements for life (Conditions for life exist throughout the universe. Christians fall into these kinds of traps all the time. Once contradictory evidence is demonstrated, they fight it for a few decades and then have to modify their belief system to accommodate the new findings. Kind of like how christians defended slavery in the U.S. in the 1900’s based on the bible until they developed some morals that were in opposition to the bible which contradicts the claim that our morals come from the bible).
5) Sudden origin of all animal phyla in the Cambrian explosion (”Sudden” if you consider 50 to 100 million years sudden and have an incredulous attitude).
6) Natural limits of biological change (again study up on evolution before making these kinds of nonsense arguments)

A critical evaluation of his responses

Let’s take a look at his replies point-by-point.

  1. No evidence is cited.
  2. No evidence is cited. There is a long-winded personal attack against Christians, which is irrelevant to the science.
  3. He says that evolution can explain the origin of the simplest living system. But evolution requires that replication already be in place, it cannot be used as an explanation of the first replicator. So citing evolution here is no defense to the explain the origin of the first replicating organism.
  4. No evidence is cited, but there is a long-winded insult.
  5. No source was provided for his “50-100 million years” number. The correct number according to the University of California at Berkeley is 5 million years. So that could just be an outright lie. And more insults, of course.
  6. No evidence is cited, but we do get yet another insult.

So, there is popular atheism. No evidence, one probable lie, and tons of insults. I am not saying all atheists are like this, but many of them are like this. And I am talking about people with good degrees, good careers and good jobs. They really have never bothered to look into these issues. The creed of atheism is these ignorant, hateful diatribes.

And that’s why they love people like Christopher Hitchens, and why many atheist web sites think he is a great debater. Because he is good at hating and insulting people he disagrees with. And that makes him the best atheist. On the other hand, Christians love people like William Lane Craig, because arguments, evidences and truth matter more to us.

Our bestselling books are Lee Strobel books, in which scholars with one or more PhDs are interviewed about their academic research publications. Their bestseller is “God is not great”, in which an uneducated journalist goes on a hate-spree, without making a single formal argument against the existence of God. These are two different sets of values.

And that is why when we have debates between William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens, all the militant atheists like Common Sense Atheism and Debunking Christianity have to award the victory to Craig.

My advice for atheists

My recommendation is that you proof-read everything you write and remove all the personal attacks and insults. Then, for every assertion, you need to reference some data from a book published by an academic press, or a peer-reviewed research publication. That way, you will be able to sustain your arguments when you try to debate Christians.

I know it feels good for you to hate and insult those with whom you disagree. And since morality and rationality unjustificable on atheism, since atheism cannot ground objective morality and free will, I am not surprised at your tone. But we were all created in God’s image. At least try to treat your neighbors with respect and tolerance.

You can read see a list of arguments for and against Christianity in my post here.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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