Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dr. Craig concludes his First Rebuttal

I'm whizzing through Dr. William Lane Craig's first rebuttal in the 1995 Dr. William Lane Craig - Dr. Massimo Pigliucci debate on "Does God Exist?". I happened to have a couple of unpublished posts backed up, so let's flush 'em out of our system!

Previous reviews of this same debate can be found starting here through Dr. Craig continues his first rebuttal

Dr. Craig:

First Question

Now what about my arguments to show that God does exist? Dr. Pigliucci uses a general argument against this to say that God is not explanatory. But notice he fails to understand the structure of my arguments. My arguments are deductive arguments, that is to say, if the premises are true, then by the laws of logic the conclusion follows inescapably. Whether you like the conclusion, whether you think it's explanatory, is irrelevant: as long as the premises are true, it follows by deductive logic that the conclusion is true.

Craig's rebuttal that Dr. P does not understand the structure of Dr. C's arguments is some technical mumbo-jumbo that only debate practitioners, logicians and philosophers will "get" easily. The rest of us will drool.

Via The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: "A deductive argument is an argument in which it is thought that the premises provide a guarantee of the truth of the conclusion." This is as Craig says it is. What Craig is slipping by the unsuspecting audience is that his premisses are not necessarily true. In the next paragraph, Dr. Craig concludes that "A transcendent cause of the universe exists." . He keeps asserting that transcendent cause without an ounce of evidence or rational support. It would be correct to say that if premisses 1 & 2 are true, then "A cause of the universe exists", but he does not say this. I can even quibble over whether either premiss 1 or premiss 2 is true, but that would divert us too much from the structure and style of this debate. You may refer back to my discussion of Uncredible Hallq commenter MNbo's criticisms of my article on Craig's cosmological argument - or see the Wikipedia page on The Big Bang - the section Speculative Physics Beyond the Big Bang to see other ideas related to the Big Bang that make the idea of "a beginning" irrelevant.

More Dr. Craig:

First Argument

So what he is going to deny? In my first argument I argued: (1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause. Will he deny that? (2) The universe began to exist.According to Steven Hawking in his book The Nature of Space and Time (1996), "Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang."{2} Will he deny that, the paradigm held by most cosmologists today? If he will not deny either of those two premises, then he cannot deny the conclusion, that A transcendent cause of the universe exists.

He says, but where did God come from? Very easily I can answer this question. The argument proves that there cannot be an infinite regress of causes. Therefore, there must be a first cause which never came into being. Whatever begins to exist has to have a cause; but a being which exists timelessly, spacelessly, and necessarily is uncaused. This is what the atheist has always said the universe is. But that is now untenable in light of the philosophical arguments I gave and the cosmological evidence for the beginning of the universe.

In other words, neither of my two premises of my first argument were refuted by Dr. Pigliucci, and therefore I think we have good grounds for thinking a transcendent Creator exists.

Notice that Craig cites Stephen Hawking saying "Almost everyone now believes ..." as a warrant for his assertion that the universe began at the Big Bang. At the risk of being really really really repetitive, the Big Bang Model holds that the universe was once in an incredibly small hot dense state - and nothing else. Hawking is saying "(people) believe", and Craig weaves the two together in (probably) his usual authoritative fashion. But Hawking saying "Almost everyone now believes ..." is not the same as "It is established that ...". And since the Big Bang does not posit a beginning in the literal sense, then Craig's argument is entirely empty.

Second Argument

My second argument was based on the complex order of the universe. And here he had three objections.

(1) You cannot look for a Creator from what we don't know. I am not arguing on the basis of what we don't know. What I'm suggesting is that we do know that the initial conditions of the universe cannot be explained by law because they are initial conditions. They cannot be explained by chance because it is just too fantastically improbable. And therefore being neither explicable by chance nor by law, design is the only alternative. What is his answer? I would like to know.

(2) He says, "Well, your argument doesn't work because there's only one universe." Let me explain the theory of probability behind this. Imagine a blue dot on a piece of a paper, and let that be our universe. Slightly alter some of these constants and quantities. That makes a new universe. If it's life-permitting, make another blue dot. If it's life- prohibiting, make a red dot. Then do it again, and then again, and again, and again. What you wind up with is a sea of red with only a few pinpoints of blue here and there. That's what I mean when I say that life-permitting universes are incalculably improbable.

(3) He says, "But the probability of all these people being here tonight, these specific people, is highly improbable, and yet we are here!" That's a failure to understand the argument. Any universe you pick is equally probable, yes, but it is highly, highly improbable that the universe you pick will be life-permitting. That's the point. It's like a lottery in which there's a billion, billion, billion black marbles and one white marble. Any marble you pick is equally improbable, but the probability that the marble you do pick will be black is vastly more probable than that it will be white. Similarly, given the improbability of the initial conditions of the universe, the universe ought to be dead; there shouldn't be any life in the universe. The fact that it cannot be explained on the basis of chance or law leaves us with design as the best explanation for why the universe is finely tuned for our existence.

In point (1), Dr. Craig says that the parameters of the universe are too fantastically improbable to believe they are that way by chance. This is 1) a bare assertion, an argument from ignorance, a false choice, and privileging the hypothesis.

In point (2), Dr. Craig constructs a vague probability argument, while ignoring the overwhelming fact that we are here. The a priori probability is now irrelevant because it is now a fact (probability 1) that we are here.

In point (3), he doubles down on the probability chip, continuing to ignore that we are in fact here.

Third Argument

What about objective moral values? He agrees there are no objective moral values, but he says values are things that work or society will collapse. That is not at all true. Look at Nazi Germany. In his book,Morality after Auschwitz, Peter Haas asks how an entire society who have existed in which the mass extermination of Jews and Gypsies went on for a decade with hardly a protest being offered. He says the reason is because a new ethic was in place in Germany which did not define the holocaust as evil, but as good. And he points out that that ethic cannot be criticized from within because it was internally consistent. It can only be criticized if you have a transcendent vantage point and anchor for moral values. On Dr. Pigliucci's view rape, child abuse, torture, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, the killing fields of Cambodia are all morally indifferent because there is no objective right and wrong. And I submit that is simply untenable. Objective moral values do exist, from which it follows logically that God exists.

I hoped to get my other arguments on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in the rebuttal; but I'm out of time, so I shall quit.

Dr. Craig takes one of his weaker arguments and bolsters it with appeals to emotion. Yes, we all abhor "rape, child abuse, torture, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, the killing fields of Cambodia". What we object to is the warrant that this sense of abhorrence signals Objective Morals, and that this somehow is proof of God. Dr. Craig didn't make his case in his opening statement, and continues to not make the case here.

All in all, this is becoming tiresome. I started out as a grudging admirer of his, and am now convinced that he's an unscrupulous douche hydrant.

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