Posts tagged ‘Reasonable Faith’

October 28th, 2013

Top Ten Podcasts for the Christian Thinker

by Max Andrews

The following are a list of podcasts that I’ve been following and listening to that have been quite helpful in my philosophical, scientific, and theological studies.  The criteria for consideration are based on 1) quality of content, 2) accurate presentation of the material, 3) constructive and respectful criticism of opposing views, 4) frequency of podcast release, and 5) a broad range of topics/issues discussed.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 12.24.53 PM#1. Unbelievable? – Hosted by Justin Brierly with Premier Christian Radio.  Unbelievable? is a UK-based public radio program, which airs every Saturday afternoon with an occasional podcast posting mid-week.  Justin brings in several leading scholars in theological and philosophical matters and they debate and dialogue particular issues ranging from ethics, comparative religions, the existence of God, science, doctrinal differences, and current events.

August 1st, 2013

Transcript and Thoughts on My Debate with Justin Schieber

by Max Andrews

Over the last month or two I’ve been working on a written/audio debate with Justin Schieber of Reasonable Doubts. The topic of the debate was “Does the Christian God Exist?” I imagine the debate may have been released earlier had it not been for my delayed responses due to health issues and moving out of our house and preparing to embark on our move to Scotland. I have apologized to Mr. Schieber concerning this and I extend apologies to the readers and listeners.

I was actually expecting much stronger arguments from Mr. Schieber. Two arguments were off topic and the other one was a far metaphysical and modal stretch. You’ll be able to read his arguments in full but here are my thoughts :

June 1st, 2013

Upcoming Podcast Debate with Justin Schieber

by Max Andrews

During the month of June I will be debating Justin Schieber from Reasonable Doubts on the question: “Does the Christian God Exist?”. The debate is designed for a very substantive and rigorous interaction and exchange. The whole debate will be posted online closer to the end of June. The format will be:

  • 20 min. Opening (Max)
  • 20 min. Opening (Mr. Schieber)
  • 15 min. Rebuttal (Max)
  • 15 min. Rebuttal (Mr. Schieber)
  • 10 min. Second Rebuttal (Max)
  • 10 min. Second Rebuttal (Mr. Schieber)
  • 5 min. Closing (Max)
  • 5 min. Closing (Mr. Schieber)

The only downside to the debate is that the format takes away from the spirit of a live interaction. However, there are many perks to this. The time in between recordings will allow for a full, robust response from each of us. I anticipate this to be a very, very good exchange with thorough explications of the arguments. A transcript of the debate with our sources will also be made available.

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.

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 1.37.39 AM

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.

December 10th, 2012

Q&A 1: Kalam and The Flying Spaghetti Monster

by Max Andrews

Hey Max,

I guess since I requested the Q&A section, I’ll start it off!

I recently had a conversation with an atheist in which I walked him through the Kalam Cosmological Argument. This inevitably led into a conversation about what criteria a “first cause” must meet. It was difficult for me to explain, and for him to understand how God exists as a necessary being, or out of His own nature.

The atheist resorted to a version of  “Flying Spaghetti Monster” argumentation, in which he said, “How do we know that the first cause wasn’t a giant pink unicorn, or that two universes didn’t just mate and form ours?”. For obvious reasons, his argument is absurd. But what’s the best way to explain the concept of the first cause, and why it couldn’t be a “giant pink unicorn”?

Thanks a lot,

Richie Worrell (USA)

Richie,

I’m always amazed at some of the philosophical lunacy some atheists come up with. The mockery of using phrases like “flying spaghetti monster” or a “giant pink unicorn” weren’t originally developed in response to the kalam. They were developed in response to intelligent design suggesting the designer could be a spaghetti monster. I recall Dawkins using it several times and it has gained popularity in response to the ontological argument.

Nonetheless, let’s accept his flying pasta, pink unicorn, and sexual universes for the sake of discussion. Let’s recap the the kalam 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.
    read more »

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.

November 14th, 2011

Top Ten Philosophy, Science, and Theology Podcasts

by Max Andrews

The following are a list of podcasts that I’ve been following and listening to that have been quite helpful in my philosophical, scientific, and theological studies.  The criteria for consideration are based on 1) quality of content, 2) accurate presentation of the material, 3) constructive and respectful criticism of opposing views, 4) frequency of podcast release, and 5) a broad range of topics/issues discussed.

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 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)

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.