Saturday, October 04, 2008

More on Craig's Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

(The Expanding Universe)

The Wolf said...
"Premise (2) is, in effect, the contrapositive of the typical atheist response to Leibniz that on the atheistic worldview the universe simply exists as a brute contingent thing. Athesist typically assert that, there being no God, it is false that everything has an explanation of its existence, for the universe, in this case, just exists inexplicably. In affirming that if atheism is true, then the universe has no explanation of its existence, atheists are also affirming the logically equivalent claim that if the universe has an explanation of its existence, then atheism is not true, that is to say, God exists. Hence, most atheists are implicitly commited to (2)."An atheist does not have to claim that if the Universe can be rationally explained then there is the possibility of God. There are both arguments that the Universe has no explanation and there are arguments that the Universe has a materialistic explanation. Both views can and are held by atheists who obviously have disagreements among themselves about the Universe."

Thank you for dialoguing with me! Here’s what I think. I don’t think you understand the argument. Craig says that if atheism is true then “the universe simply exists as a brute contingent thing.” Surely this is true. If we found someone who claimed to be an atheist and said something different, it would be because they don’t understand the implications of their atheism. They have a worldview; it has epistemic consequences. What Craig means is that, on atheism, there is no answer, in re. to the universe’s existence, to the question “Why.” Atheistic answer: “it just does.” “Inexplicably.” NOTE: Craig’s reasoning clearly does apply to the one-universe hypothesis. That’s where I could have been clearer. In his essay he discusses the “multiverse theory” as a possible, but greatly flawed, explanation for the existence of the universe. But again, as regards the one-universe hypothesis, there’s no scientific answer to why the universe exists. This is also the understanding of “one-universe” physicists.
But the universe does exist.

Combine that with P (1), and the contrapositive of “On atheism, the universe just exists as a brute contingent fact,” and you can see the logic of this argument.

Charles Toeppe said...
"This argument seems like it could apply to God itself. So what kind of response would you, or Craig, give to the idea that, "God exists, and therefore must have an explanation." An idea that, if accepted, I think we could both agree leads to an almost infinite absurdness, and even complexity, that is probably unnecessary.On a seperate note, I can testify as an atheist that I simply claim ignorance to the explanation for the universe's existance. I can't say God did or did not create it, but I certainly do not claim its existance to be inexplicable."

Hi Charles – thanks for the dialogue! On P(1) the answer to your first question is given. The explanation for God’s existence is in the necessity of its own nature. The universe is a contingent thing; God is understood to be a necessary being. Remember the reasoning here Craig gave in the Kalam Cosmological Argument. So the argument for the universe given here does not apply to God.

Re. your second, more personal, point: On the one-universe hypothesis the cause of our contigent universe is in principle inexplicable. On atheism it just popped into existence out of nothing, therefore denying the truth of P(1). But couldn’t it have come out of a “multiverse?” Ahhh, that’s a theory that has, acc. to Craig and others, serious problems. Craig gives his response to that in the essay I’ve cited.