Archive for ‘William Lane Craig’

May 13th, 2013

Teaming up With Reasonable Faith

by Max Andrews

The last few weeks of mine have been incredible. My wife graduated with her BS in Communications specializing in PR and Advertising and graduated with my Master’s in Philosophical Studies. These few weeks have allowed our humanity to express every range of the human emotion, which is a good thing.

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As we prepare to move to Scotland for my PhD in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, we are seeing family and traveling places before we go. One of my main goals was to attain an adjunct position with a university so I can be a professor and work online. Well, I am no longer teaching intro. to philosophy courses at a University, which is sad. However, God had different plans for me–at least for the time being. I’m very humbled to announce that I have been offered and have taken a position with William Lane Craig’s ministry, Reasonable Faith.

February 27th, 2013

William Lane Craig and Epistemological Naturalism

by Max Andrews

The following is a guest post by Kegan Shaw. Kegan is currently in the MA in Philosophical Studies program at Liberty University and his research is in epistemological naturalism and rationalism.

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Looking back on the Feb. 2nd debate between William Craig and Alex Rosenberg, while much said was in keeping with good sense, there did appear to be some confusion about the notion of epistemological naturalism. It seems William Lane Craig confused or took together to be synonymous the terms scientism and epistemological naturalism (EN). These terms are importantly distinct and should therefor be kept that way. To make a statement of distinction right off, scientism is an epistemological theory, while EN is not strictly so.

The confusion stems from Craig’s taking epistemological naturalism to be equivalent to scientism, while proceeding to wrongly criticize epistemological naturalism as one would properly criticize scientism. For instance, Craig says in his Feb. 26 podcast that epistemological naturalism is the view that “science alone gives us knowledge and truth.” Craig’s debate powerpoint defined the same term as the view that “science is the only source of knowledge.” However, these are proper definitions of scientism, not EN.

September 24th, 2012

Catching William Lane Craig’s Intelligent Design Error

by Max Andrews

I was listening to William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith podcast on Sean Carroll on Science and God Part 1 this morning as I was walking from the parking lot into my office at University today, and I was quite surprised to hear a generalization Dr. Craig made concerning intelligent design.

Dr. Craig discusses how no models of the universe involve God. (This discussion begins around the 7 minute mark.) I think he’s correct in that we don’t have a physical theory of the universe that uses God as an entity in its explanation. For instance, you’ll find no entity in the standard model of particle physics that denotes God. However, Craig says that you do find this in the proponents of intelligent design theory “who want to postulate God as an entity in a scientific theory–that God would be like a quark, or a black hole, or a quantum field. He would be a theoretical entity postulated in a scientific theory.”

I have no doubt that there are intelligent design proponents, i.e. [young earth] creationists, who do this, but importing creationism into intelligent design theory strips ID for what it actually says.

January 17th, 2012

William Lane Craig’s “J. Howard Sobel on the Kalam Cosmological Argument”–A Review

by Max Andrews

A Review of William Lane Craig’s “J. Howard Sobel on the Kalam Cosmological Argument.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (2006): 565-584.

William Lane Craig formulates retort to J. Howard Sobel’s objection to kalam as he typically formulates it.[1] Premise 1 seems obviously true—at least, more than its negation.  To suggest that things could just pop into being uncaused out of nothing is to quit doing serious metaphysics and is a premise that Sobel acknowledges to be true.  Sobel’s objection is with 2—that the universe began to exist.  This would then run into an infinite regress, which is philosophically and mathematically untenable.  Because an actually infinite number of things cannot exist, the series of past events must be finite in number and, hence, the temporal series of past, physical events is not without beginning.[2]

January 16th, 2012

William Lane Craig’s “Reflections on ‘Uncaused Beginnings’”–A Review

by Max Andrews

Review of William Lane Craig’s “Reflections on ‘Uncaused Beginnings,’” Faith and Philosophy 27 (2010):  72-78.

In William Lane Craig’s reflections on Graham Oppy’s recent critiques of the cosmological argument[1], particularly kalam, Craig finds his arguments to lack serious considerations of a temporal order of causation and that the metaphysical theorizing of modality and causation are ambiguous and lack rigor.  Oppy’s argument is based on what an “initial state” of the universe is and its essential properties.  His initial state is ambiguous but Craig explicates Oppy later in his critique.

November 8th, 2011

New Atheism’s Cancer and Eventual Cause of Death: Monologue

by Max Andrews

The poet John Milton put it so well when he said that “Truth will rise to the top through a free and open exchange in the marketplace of ideas.”  This is true whether this marketplace is in a verbal debate, a written debate, or peer-reviewed literature.  What serves as a decline in the value of ideas are when these ideas have no competition and/or no competition is invited or encouraged.

I’ve recently blogged on Richard Dawkins’ and PZ Myers’ excuses to not engage in dialogue with William Lane Craig.  Once Myers read my blog post he was quick on his draw and gave colorful responses such as:

You call an exposure of WL Craig’s blatant misrepresentation of science “tomfoolery”? OK, I see where you stand. In ignorance.

And when I said that there should be dialogue he responded with,

It’s what YOU want. Why shd we want a dialog with a fraud & moral monster? RT @maxeoa A dialogue is all we want.

October 20th, 2011

Dawkins and PZ Myers on William Lane Craig– That’s It?

by Max Andrews

I was quite surprised as I checked my Twitter feed this morning to find out that Richard Dawkins released another statement declaring his obstinate refusal to debate Christian philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig.  To much disappointment, the only excuses were based in mockery, arrogance, and hypocrisy.

Dawkins’ arrogant mockery of Craig. Dawkins minimizes Craig for who he is in academia by suggesting that “maybe he is a ‘theologian.’” I can see the Oxford professor doing the air quotes and saying with his germane English accent.  He acts as if no one in academia has ever heard of Craig and that he’s the equivalent of a community college professor trying to make it big.  Craig doesn’t need anything added to his CV, it’s already quite extensive and accomplished (as well as his publications).  I’m not sure how he can honestly say that he has not heard of Craig (being that he shared a stage with him at Ciudad de las Ideas).  Obviously, he knows who he is now (at least some aspects of him) but he needs to stop playing the tune of not knowing who he is and this CV jargon.  All Dawkins mentions on his schedule is that he is promoting a film “No Dinosaurs in Heaven” for October 25 when Craig is to debate Dawkins (leaving an empty chair with dire hopes of Dawkins showing up).  Oh, by the way, don’t pay attention to William Lane Craig’s events listed on Dawkins’ schedule.  Evidently, Dawkins doesn’t manage his own schedule because, as you’ll recall, he doesn’t know who Craig is…

Dawkins’ hypocrisy.  Dawkins caricatures Craig’s position with his megalomaniac-of-a-God argument by suggesting Craig argues for a God of genocide.  Okay, make the claim that this is what Craig believes, which isn’t true, but he goes on to construct an argument against Craig in this press release.  Wait a second, is he engaging in Craig’s thought here?  If yes, then why not commit to a substantive dialogue focused on, say, divine command theory?  If not, then it’s quite hypocritical.  Additionally, the hypocrisy shines when he will debate Alister McGrath and John Lennox (who both believe in inerrancy and would [I believe] defend divine command theory) but not Craig.  Surely, atheists have to be seeing this.

PZ Myers’ tomfoolery.  Myers posted an article on his blog this morning titled “Standing up to William Lane Craig.”  Most people in the scientific and philosophical blogosphere familiar with this arena of thought understand that Myers is admittedly outspoken, rude, and angry.  Sure, that’s not my preference but okay, he can be that way.  I don’t care too much about that.  What I find interesting is that he supports Dawkins’ refusal to debate Craig and considers it a “terrific put-down.”  He goes on to say,

I was pleased to see that one of Dawkins’ points was one that is not made often enough:William Lane Craig is a nasty, amoral excuse for a human being.

My only reaction to this is simply laugh.  No serious academic or inquirer for the truth can take these comments seriously.  I think it’s an amazing demonstration of lack of substantive retort and refusal to dialogue.  Dawkins and Myers simply want to monologue and when someone wants to engage, shame on that fool for thinking differently.  So much for free thought, right?

The thing is, Craig has already taken on the leading atheists and to top Dawkins would be too much of a blow for the atheist camp. He is their last hope for saving face in the public sphere.  Now, I’m not going to suggest that atheism has been dismantled in academia, because it hasn’t.  The purpose of debating is to bring the issues to a public forum and let the premises and arguments, which underlie these competing worldviews, be heard, examined, matched against peers, and argued against (which helps prevent strawmen).  Debating isn’t an academic double-blind - journal and no one ever said it was.  I suspect Dawkins isn’t the most adept debater and that’s okay.  I would be content with him saying that he isn’t sufficient in a formal oral debate and would prefer more of an academic review/written debate (and leave formal oral debates to those who can).  That’s fine with me.

Paradoxically, I believe Dawkins’ lack of debate is a bigger defeat for new atheism then if he did debate Craig.  It says so much more than if they were to engage in substantive dialogue because it demonstrates the new atheists’ desire of monologue.  They want to shout on their blogs and books that there is no God (or on busses that there probably isn’t a God).  If you stand up to question them they have nothing to respond with but strawmen arguments.  So much for standing up to William Lane Craig, this is more of a stepping-to-the-side and getting out of his way.

October 14th, 2011

Resources on the Reasonable Faith UK Tour

by Max Andrews

William Lane Craig is starting off his UK Reasonable Faith Tour from October 17-26.  Below are some resources for information concerning the tour. (Thanks to drcraigvideos for the links and videos).

Websites on the UK Tour

http://www.bethinking.org/craig
http://premier.org.uk/craig

Facebook

http://www.facebook.com/ReasonableFaithTour

Interviews on the Tour

Interview with Justin Brierley at Premiere Christian Radio in the UK

Interview with Kevin Harris with the Reasonable Faith Podcast

New Articles/Stories on the Tour

Richard Dawkins accused of cowardice for refusing to debate existence of God (The Telegraph)

BBC on “No Dawkins” Oxford Bus Campaign (BBC)

British Humanists Take to the Bunkers (Be Thinking)

Christian Philosopher William Lane Craig Is Ready to Debate, but Finds Few Challengers (Fox News)

Dawkins defends decision not to debate apologist William Lane Craig (Christianity Today)

October 11th, 2011

No Dawkins? Don’t be Daft!

by Max Andrews

There have been quite the development of criticisms of Richard Dawkins in the last few weeks in light of his denial to debate Christian philosopher William Lane Craig. I’ve been a participant in the blogosphere and in the forums and I’m familiar with what others are saying about everything. The basic principle that’s being asserted is that Dawkins will have a monologue concerning his arguments against God but he will not dialogue about it. I mean really, why debate the existence of fictitious entities and fairies?

June 14th, 2011

The Metaphysics of the Kalam Cosmological Argument

by Max Andrews

William Lane Craig is perhaps the most well known contemporary proponent of the kalam cosmological argument.  It was during his Ph.D. studies at the University of Birmingham in England where he revitalized this early argument originally developed by the Islamic theologian Al-Ghazali (1058-1111).  There are several cosmological arguments such as Aquinas’ hierarchical causal argument and Leibniz’s principle of sufficient reason, which suggests that everything has a sufficient reason for its existence.  The kalam argument focuses on the impossibility of an infinite set of causes in a temporal manner.

A Few Preliminaries

  • A set is any collection of things or numbers that belong to a well-defined category.  In a set notation, this would be written as {2, 3, 5, 7, 11} being the first five prime numbers, which is a finite set of things.  Let’s simply signify this set as S.
  • There is a proper subset (SS) of S.  There are members in S that are not in SS, but no member of SS that is not in S.
  • The set of first three primes in a proper SS of the above S is {2, 3, 5}.
  • A dense set is a set where there is always room for one more in between another two elements.
  • Where there is an infinite set is with a set of cardinality, or natural numbers, it’s simply called a power set or an infinite set.
  • A series is an ordered set of numbers.  A finite series has a finite fixed number of terms.  An infinite series has an infinite number of terms.  A series with m terms, or the sum of the firs m terms of an infinite series, can be written as Sm or ∑a.
  • An actual infinite set is signified by the Hebrew letter aleph א.
  • potential infinite set, or series, is signified by the lemniscate ∞.

The Argument

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

The argument for premise 1 is that anything that begins to exist does so temporally, at some indexical moment of time.  Because there is a difference between moments, an earlier or later than, there must be a cause to the thing which begins to exist, which determines its temporal existence.  Craig offers two arguments for premise 2

2.1 Argument based on the impossibility of an actual infinite

  • 2.11 An actual infinite cannot exist
  • 2.12 An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite
  • 2.13 Therefore, an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist

2.2 Argument based on the impossibility of the formation of an actual infinite by successive addition

  • 2.21 A collection formed by successive addition cannot be actually infinite
  • 2.22 The temporal series of past events is a collection formed by successive addition
  • 2.23 Therefore, the temporal series of past events cannot be actually infinite

Premise 3 follows necessarily if 1 and 2 are true and valid.  So, what type of cause are we looking at?  Let’s take a look at Aristotle’s causes.

Aristotle’s Four Causes

  1. Material Cause:  Out of what?  This is where the physics come in.  Hawking, for example, agrees with Craig on this, the universe had no material cause. The universe is from nothing.
  2. Efficient Cause:  Through what?  This is the type of cause kalam gets to.  This is why Craig argues that the cause must be a personal agent.  An agent is the only entity that could initiate or cease a series of cause and effect relationships.  This is known as agent causation.
  3. Formal Cause:  What form or essence?
  4. Final Cause:  For what purpose?  This is teleological argument.

Objections

Paul Draper’s “In time or In or with time

Paul Draper responds to P1.  He believes Craig seems to elide over a distinction, and a very important one right at the heart of the debate. There is a difference between:

  1. 1’ Whatever begins to exist in time has a cause of its existence; and,
  2. 1’’ Whatever beings to exist in or with time has a cause of its existence

It is 1’’ that gets back to the main issue: is the universe caused?  The issue here is that time began withthe universe.  It may be true that all things we’ve ever observed that started to exist [in time] had a cause, and eve, that they must have had one.  Still, the unknown (Humean) question is, is 1’’ true on the basis of 1’’? The truth of 1’ seems irrelevant to the inquisitive truth of re: 1’’ Craig’s possible reply? There is still the issue of creatio continuans, that is, God as a cause of contingency’s existence from moment to moment.  Reply? Yes, perhaps; but that isn’t what the kalam argument is supposed to focus on.  The focus has changed from the creation of the universe in the finite past to sustaining the universe at each moment (which is more of Thomas’ argument).  I think this may be one of the stronger objections but the objection seems to interpolate the original premise for what it was.  There’s the difference between concurrent causation in or with time and the beginning of time.

Alvin Plantinga’s division of time…

Plantinga (Warranted Christian Belief, Ch. 1) argues that Craig assumes that each moment of time is of equal duration.  If we divine up time like the following, then there are an actual infinite number of time points in any finite time segment.  Count the events going back in time… 1 second, ½ sec., ¼ sec., etc.  Craig’s reply? Time isn’t like that though, cosmological time is quantal; that is, there is an actual smallest amount of time, which is Planck time (10-43 seconds).  It is at the increment of time can any meaningful physical event take place (this point works in conjunction to Draper’s objection as well).  If we wanted to chase this rabbit trail we would have to then get in to the metaphysical aspects of time and whether or not time is one smooth flow or choppy like a film strip (and at an incredibly choppy rate of one frame per 10-43 second).  This means Plantinga’s example won’t work, and so if each event in the past is taken to be Planck time, then there cannot be an actual infinite number of past events, for reasons previously mentioned.

J. A. Cover’s appeal to omniscience…

Cover’s objection is with 2.11.  Wait a second, but what about God?  Doesn’t God know an actual infinite number of propositions?  Theologians and philosophers have always said that God is “infinite”?  Is his infinity and actual infinity or a potential infinity?  Response?  It assumes a Platonic idea of divine omniscience.  Craig has come to seem less conceptualistic, that is, that the abstract like numbers and certain ideas exist in the mind of God, and has seemed to embrace nominalism.  This nominalism would suggest that propositions do not exist.  Propositions do not exist in a form of a set or a series; rather, propositions are useful fictions.  There’s a distinction Thomas makes in omniscience, there’s a difference between an intuitive knowledge (or non-propositionally) and a discursive knowledge.  I’m not too certain how far Craig take’s any of Thomas’ material but the Thomistic idea of divine approximation may work.  With this idea, God is the ultimate archetype.  If God is simple, but the object of knowledge is not himself, is that not complexity?  So, if God knows a plant, God knows the plant by approximating it to himself (that it exists, that it lives, etc.).  I would venture to say that Craig parts in this area but kalam is still compatible with this concept of God (though Thomas himself would disagree about the nature of time).

Conclusion

The conclusion of the argument ends with a first temporal cause.  Now there are some implications that may be made.  This cause must be personal (nature of agent causation), extremely powerful (observing the effect), timeless (at least explanatorily prior to the beginning of the universe), and changeless (nature of events).  Kalam does not arrive at God, but it ends where it ends… a first temporal cause.