Firstly, let’s address the supposed ‘best argument’ for theism. The Kalam Cosmological Argument of William Lane Craig fame, which can be stated succinctly as follows:
- All things that begin to exist have a creator.
- The Universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the universe has a creator.
This argument sends a jolt through the spines of many atheists, primarily because, well, there’s not really anything wrong about it.
The problem here is in the framing of the argument. The word ‘creator’ in these premises is what’s really causing trouble. When you hear the term creator used, you think of (I cite this example only because religious folk have been enamored with it since Paley’s Natural Theology, 1802, used it to seemingly prove that humans have a creator), a watchmaker making a watch. The watch had to have been created; it can’t just appear by pure happenstance. The issue is that this example leads to our conception of the debate revolving around a personal and deliberate creator, when really; there is nary a shred of evidence for this.
The species Homo sapiens came to exist, did they have a creator? Yes actually, they did. His name was natural selection.
The fatal conceit of the theistic framework is the conflation of any creator with a necessarily personal creator, who deliberately created all of existence.
Since modern cosmology and astrophysics has, basically, reached scientific consensus regarding the Big Bang being the starting point of the Universe, the proposition is that God caused the Big Bang. There is no evidence for this. Perhaps it was a naturalistic process that resulted in the creation of the universe. There are a million different possible theories. Perhaps similar to natural selection, there was some scientific force at play.
Or perhaps there was a personal creator.
But guess what? If there is no evidence for a proposition, we are well within are rights to call the proposition false, until such time the evidence appears.
The counter-argument offered here is that, as the concept of an infinite past has no logical basis, due to the infinite number of events that would necessarily have taken place for us to exist today, there must eventually be a starting point, and that the starting point of everything necessitates a personal god.
Note that, once again, the logic offered is not altogether flawed. It makes perfect sense that, at some as of yet unknown point, everything would have had to begin. Which leaves us with two choices: existence being brute fact i.e. something that just is, or an omnipotent and omniscient creator of immeasurable divinity residing outside of space and time, who is deeply offended at thought of two men having sex. Which seems more plausible?
And let me point out, that when the atheist suggests that perhaps the universe is simply brute fact, the theist calls it intellectually lazy and states that scientific principle, along with determinism, dictates that there must be a cause to everything.
So, to get this right, it is intellectually lazy to say that existence itself is brute fact, but, add one more step and name it ‘God’, then it’s perfectly reasonable? In essence, the theist has only added one more layer to the chain of events, and demarcated that as being a fact of brute nature.
Is this not equally as fallacious? Should not God also then have a cause?
Ah, but you see, there’s the rub. Look at the first premise of the argument.
‘All things that begin to exist have a cause.’
Oh theists, you cheeky devils.
Isn’t it brilliant? They’ve simply defined away all their troubles. There’s no need for God to have a cause because he didn’t begin to exist. He has always existed. But if you suggest that maybe the universe didn’t begin to exist, well now that’s just lazy and hypocritical.
You should be ashamed of yourself.
Since the theists have developed such a fascination for contemporary cosmology, I think we would be well served by casting a cursory glance or two its way; just enough to realize that the Universe is marked for death. Whether you subscribe to Heat Death, or Big Rip, or another alternative, contemporary cosmology dictates that the Universe will either continue to expand, and die out, or begin to contract, and die out.
Golly, that doesn’t sit too well with the whole God created the Universe for humans malarkey, now does it? Any theists, who wish to invoke cosmology, should then be prepared to have it thrown back in their face.
You cannot make the claim that God created the Universe so that man would live in accordance with his rules (which is another fatuous claim I’ll get to in a second), if that very Universe is fated to die out.
All this, without even mentioning the fact, that the Sun’s increasing luminosity will render the Earth uninhabitable far before the Universe draws its final breath.
If God wishes for humans to live, he’s certainly not doing a very good job of it.
I’m happy that this argument exists though, because it merges a great many historical arguments which while differing from slightly from this emendation; still operate on similar premises and logic. This lets me debunk a wide field of theistic positions for the price of one.
Thomas Aquinas’ Unmoved Mover, wherein, confronted with evidence of motion, Aquinas decides that all moving objects require a mover. In keeping with the logical impossibility of infinite causation, there must have been a First Mover, or a Unmoved Mover, as it were, and this everyone understands to be God.
Aquinas’ First Cause argument utilizes the principle of cause and effect, and again the impossibility of infinity, to postulate the existence of an Uncaused Cause, and this everyone understands to be God.
His Necessary Being argument seeks to argue that since all being owe their existence not to themselves, but are contingent on something else, there must be a first being that is necessary for anything to exist, who does not owe his creation to anything else, and this everyone understands to be God. Incidentally, the Atemporal Cosmological Argument, almost verbatim, matches the Necessary Being argument.
The fundamental limitation of this debate is that neither side has a shred of evidence to support a theory of how everything came into being.
I must admit, I find some of my fellow atheists to be overly assertive in their declarations of factual certainity. A great many atheists seem far too willing to state the Universe’s being brute fact as a glaringly obvious proposition; it most certainly is not.
I would also like to point out, that there are many among our number, who would actually favor a theory of creation ex-nihilo, or creation, from nothing. This is, to the highest degree, illogical. From nothing, comes nothing. If something were to come from nothing, then our entire conception of logic, natural sciences, metaphysics, mathematics, philosophy, would be dead wrong. If that is so, then the entire attempt to study and understand the universe and our surroundings is a futile and fruitless endeavor (oh and also there’s no evidence for this).
The atheist doesn’t know what was going on before the Big Bang, or if even there was something going on before the Big Bang. The theist certainly has no basis to conclude that a supreme being created all of existence; there’s simply no evidence for such a massive claim. The difference is only, that the atheist can recognize and admit this, whereas the religious either knowingly or unknowingly employs linguistic misdirection to evade it.
The Kalam Cosmological argument is simply an intellectual cop-out, nothing more.